Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Class of '75

            I was going through some “old stuff” the other day and found my speech from graduation.  My son said it was still relevant today, so I thought I would share it.


            “As graduating seniors, we are faced with a new era of challenge and choice.  In a society that is less structured than ever before, that is more liberal and permissive, we have the privilege and opportunity to determine our separate roles.  The choice will be ours.
            How can we, as the graduating seniors of Belton-Honea Path High School, become individuals?  To become an individual one must possess a total character distinguished from others. 
Why do so many people conform to another’s lifestyle rather than setting their own pace?  A survey was made of 600 students in the psychology classes of a university in which they were asked to state their most difficult personal problem.  Seventy-five percent of the students listed lack of confidence. 
Everywhere you encounter people who are inwardly afraid, who suffer from a deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity, and who doubt their own personal powers.  They do not believe that they have it in them to be what they want to be, and so they make themselves content with something less than that of which they are capable.  They resort to conforming to others’ standards so as to have assurance of acceptance and success rather than being ostracized for their own thoughts or actions.
            Henry Van Dyke once said, “Individuality is the salt of common life.  You may have to live in a crowd, but you do not have to live like it nor subsist on its food.”
            As we walk away from Belton-Honea Path High School, our friends, and our past; we have a choice – one that is an important molding factor for our future.  During the past, we have conformed to our peers’ ideas in dress code, our speech, and even our habits.  But when we go our separate ways, we will have to decide whether or not we will become an individual or conform again to our new stage of life, whether that stage be college or employment.  We are not forced to conform, but we are forced to make a decision in one way or another.
            Henry David Thoreau said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
            Every person has a different calling.  Each has a different purpose or goal in his life, even within this graduating class of 1975.  In our lives we will meet people who have different ideas from those of our own.  We must learn to accept these people as individuals.
            So, you see, the choice is ours as to whether or not we will become an individual and whether or not we will accept others as individuals.  If we change our personality for every stage of life we take part in, we will never have possession of a solid character.  Let us not build something that we will have to tear down.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The End of the Road

While I was driving along, I looked at the upcoming hill.  It appeared the top of the hill was the end of the road.  I had travelled that road before, so I knew it continued.  But I still asked myself as I looked toward the illusion, “Should I keep going?”  What if it really was as it appeared?  What if it ended?  Then I would be in danger of falling off into…something.  It was foolish to entertain those thoughts because I knew where the road ended.  I knew I was safe and the road would take me to my destination, so I disregarded the thoughts and continued on.
Most of us have faced the same scenario in our life’s journey.  We come to a place in the road that looks like the end, and we question, “Should I keep going?  Is it safe?”  We may have come to this place before and know that Jesus will make a way for us…He is the way.  But when we come to that place again, doubts surface in our minds about the faithfulness of God.  If we entertain those thoughts instead of disregarding them, the enemy can stop us altogether or turn us back from receiving what God has for us.   
The thoughts go something like this.  “What if this situation really is as hopeless as it appears?”  “What if I believe and am disappointed?  I know God can do it, but will He do it for me?” “Is there any use in continuing to try? Every time I seem to be making progress, something happens to push me back.”  “Where is God?  Does He really care about me?” 
I suppose you caught me!  And, yes, the reason I know the questions is because I’ve been there…because I have asked some of them myself.  The truth is, I also know the answers…and so do you.  God is faithful and we can trust Him completely, blindly, wholeheartedly and not be ashamed or disappointed.
We cannot afford to entertain those thoughts of doubt and give them a place in our minds and emotions.  If we do, they will very subtly birth unbelief in our hearts.
Satan whispers these lies in our ears, and they come with an unhealthy dose of fear.  The fear is the power behind his deception.  It serves to push us over the edge of the precipice that he keeps hidden from us while he makes us believe God’s way is the dangerous way.  That is why we have to use caution as to what thoughts we entertain.
I have experienced times when I felt hopeless for no apparent reason.  My mind seemed dull and God seemed a million miles away.  I went back to my journal where I had recorded what God had spoken to my heart from His Word and I was renewed.  We decrease our doubts and fears by increasing our faith.
How do we accomplish that?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  (Romans 10:17)  When it looks as if the road ahead has ended, it’s time to let the Word of God wash that illusion out of our minds.  And we need to keep going!  His Word will help us see clearly and we can continue on His way. 
The end of the road?  Makes you think!  But be careful what you think.