The following is a condensed version of the speech.
Many years ago when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I sat in my Baccalaureate Service counting the minutes until it was done so I could go riding around with my friends. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, on a farm. I had been told, by many, that the best time of my life was my years in high school. They said I would hit the real world after graduation and life was all down hill from there. I didn’t want it to be that way, but I didn’t want to miss any opportunities for the best time of my life either.
I was hoping after high school it would be the best time for me to become the adult woman God had created me to be. There was one thing I forgot. I forgot to allow God to graduate with me.
Tonight I want to encourage you to reflect on what has been accomplished and anticipate what is yet to come. Your best days are not behind you, they are the ones ahead that God has planned and where He will be with you.
After high school, it is the best time of your life to define, who am I? As I left high school I struggled with who I was outside of my family home, my group of friends and my small hometown. I could become anyone I wanted to be and for me, that was a dangerous prospect. When I didn’t allow God to graduate with me moral lines became blurry and I didn’t make good choices. As time went by it wasn’t easy to rectify the bad decisions, however, I knew I had the ability to begin to make better decisions in becoming the woman God had created me to be.
As an adult I continue to find times that I am confused and struggle with, who am I? We experience changes over our lifetime that have you continue to ask the same question. I have been a mom to three boys, also playing the role of dad when my husband was away for the baseball season. I wore many hats while the boys were growing up. Now that they have graduated high school and two are out of college, my role had changed. I had to answer the question again, who am I without the boys around?
I am the wife of the Pittsburgh Pirate’s Bench Coach. I am Dave Jauss’s wife. Still I ask, who am I other than a baseball wife? In the empty nest, I have begun a new career of writing and speaking. Yet, I wonder. Who am I in the world of blogging, speaking and publishing?
Throughout all these times of struggling with the question, there is one definition I desperately cling to and pray you will also stand strong with is, I am a child of God! “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1John 3:1
When you find yourself asking, who am I? Reach deep into your soul and remember; God loves you. There was no mistake when He made you. He is with you. You are His child.
You are a child of God; know it, live it, love it!
After high school, it is the best time of your life to make mistakes. It’s ok. Mistakes are a part of life. I made quite a few in my life after high school. Without graduating with God I had no basis of right and wrong; no one to be accountable to in my spirit. This happens to many after high school. In baseball, we have very young men embarking on lives that are full of temptations and circumstances that can create an atmosphere of mistake-filled lives. The media loves to splash the wrongdoing of celebrities all over the internet and television. In baseball, we try to help these young men and the women in their lives to succeed on and off the field.
We are blessed to be part of a very special organization and have great Christian leadership. Baseball Chapel is an organization that provides Sunday services and Bible studies for the players and coaches. Having to be at the field early on Sunday mornings they are not able to attend church with their families. Baseball Chapel also provides a Bible study for the wives during home stands. Intimate relationships in public lives help us stay in God’s presence.
None of us live sheltered lives. We live in a crazy world. Remembering God is with us helps to protect us. But still mistakes happen. When they do we need to quickly admit the mistake to God, replace it with Godly actions, and learn to not repeat it.
When you graduate with God you can stay focused on God’s goodness and perfect love, not the mistakes. You are forgiven. Stay rooted in Him. God’s perfect love overcomes our imperfections.
“ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 37-39
After high school, it is the best time of your life to question your faith. Before we leave the protection and leadership of our families and home church our faith can be like a GPS. On the way to the event, I put in the address, pressed go and followed the step-by-step guidance of the voice coming from my speakers. I followed the directions without knowing much about the route. This was much like my boys’ faith before leaving for college. They went to church with us, the youth group with their friends and did what they were called to do, mostly. They didn’t completely claim their faith as their own.
When we leave home we are exposed to things we may never have been exposed to, in ways we never knew before. My boys’ faith was challenged in ways I never expected. Doubt crept into their lives. Doubt crept into my life.
In Mark 9 we see a story of a father who had brought his son to Jesus to be healed. Jesus had been performing miracles and word had spread. The father believed Jesus could heal his son.
Vs. 17-18“A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
Vs. 21-22 “Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
This father had come to Jesus and asked Him to heal his son, but he says… “if you can.” If you can? Who questions Jesus? I know I do at times. I have times of unbelief even though I confess to being a believing Christian. This father suffered from unbelief and doubt too. Don’t you love that there are people in the Bible just like us?
Vs. 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Next, we see the response that gives me hope.
Vs. 24 “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
It is not the times of unbelief and doubt that are wrong. It is if we stay parked there for a while. Keep going! Don’t stop there. God is good. He is with you. He loves you. Trust Him even when you have doubts. Don’t park in doubt. Travel in trust.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7-8
Graduating with God allows you to move through these times in His abilities not your own. Flourishing and growing.
I have a quote from a special friend. When I asked him if I could share this quote with all of you tonight he smiled really big. I told him I was going to call him my special friend. Then I said no maybe I will just tell them you are my son, that may hold more weight.
“He (God) is everything that I could ever need or ever want, Playoffs or not, MVP or not, I know what I stand for and I know what I believe in.” a quote from Andrew McCutchen.
Now as we end our time together I want to once again encourage you to reflect on what has been accomplished and anticipate what is yet to come.
- It is the best time of your life to embrace the YOU God has created as His child.
- It is the best time of your life to know that the goodness and perfect love of God overcomes our imperfections.
- It is the best time of your life to travel in trust.
- Allow God to graduate with you.
Congratulations Class of 2016