Congratulations, graduates! You have completed a milestone in your life that will forever mark the results of your effort. Your family and friends are proud of you. Your diploma stands as a testimony of your achievement and your faithfulness in using the gifts and blessings that God has provided.
“What are you going to do after graduation?” I feel a little sorry for those nearing graduation, because it is not enough that you are pushing hard to finish the requirements. The question you hear, in nearly every conversation, inquires about the next frontier to conquer. Clearly we should have next steps in mind, but let’s stop here for a moment and focus on this moment in our journey.
In the New Testament, the parable of the talents highlights our duty to honor the blessings God provides. But we have another example in 1 Samuel 6-7, which describes the Ark of the Covenant’s journey in the hands of the Philistines and its return to the Israelites.
In verse 7:12, Samuel placed a stone — he referred to it as an Ebenezer, a Stone of Help — to mark the return of the Ark of the Covenant and Israel’s victory over the Philistines. The stone was a physical monument recognizing God’s sustaining help in Israel’s life, through times of trial (1 Samuel 4-5) and victory. Each time Israel passed the stone, they remembered the source of their help.
Diplomas are a type of Ebenezer stone. They mark a beautiful intersection of God’s blessings in our life and our steps to honor His blessings with our efforts. Like Samuel’s Ebenezer stone, diplomas are a physical reminder of God’s presence in our life.
“Till now the Lord has helped us,” Samuel says in verse 7:12, referring to the Lord’s presence during the process of Israel’s sin and repentance. What a comforting thought — especially as we ponder the next steps in our earthly journey.
Graduation signals a new beginning. Whether that includes a new title, a new job, a new city or a new state of mind, stay connected to the source of all help.
– Pray and maintain your daily quiet time.
– Stay connected with Biblical teaching.
– Continue tithing and look for opportunities to give additionally out of your time and resources.
Practically, move forward with a long-term view.
– In transition times, such as after graduation, short term needs can seem overwhelming if there is a change in your residence or job. Look for budget-friendly alternatives.
– Manage your emotions in the transition and resist the temptation to buy food, clothes or anything else (… I once bought a car …) to relieve emotions such as anxiety or loneliness.
– Manage your budget in the short term, with a long term view. This is your opportunity to set up a plan that meets your short and long-term needs. Include:
o Monthly expenses related to: housing, transportation, food, insurance, entertainment
o Emergency savings fund, retirement savings
– Defer major purchases until your budget has proven its ability to serve both short and long term needs.