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My Love Letter to the Graduating Class of 2015

May 11, 2015


Your eyes now gaze on open doors
They’re open now!  Oh, see!  They’re yours!

I am going to miss you.  You know that.

I want to take this moment to thank you.

Thank you, friend, for leaving me with some very fine memories.

Memories that I, as a teacher, will take with me for the rest of my life.

Some of these memories are sharp and angular.  The times you raised your hand, your face pinched in a furrowed and dark gaze, asking a pointed and troublesome question about the Bible.  You let down your guard and showed your fears and doubts.  I answered these questions as carefully and lovingly as I could.  You asked again. And again. And again, until you received the answer you needed.  Those were powerful moments both for you and me.

Some memories are soft.  The times you quietly assisted another student in need, or sat with me after class to share a personal victory in your life.  You sat with me at Theology Camp, late into the night, asking probing questions about the wonder and genius of God.  You honored me, a much older person, when you shared some of the most precious minutes of your life.  I will always value that.

Sometimes we bumped heads, though, didn’t we? A few times it seemed as if we were smashing each others’ frontal lobes, really.   I would find it necessary to discipline you for a classroom infraction, and I did so.  I must confess to you now that I am not a natural disciplinarian and will now share with you how hard it was for me to do so.  Ask my wife; many a time I would grieve over dinner over the steps of punishment I had to take with you.

Want to know a secret?  Sometimes you impressed me so greatly that I would get emotional.  Like the time you took that C minus and labored to make it an A.  Like the time the Bible passages flowed from your memory in a way that told me that it was more than a rote recitation; you understood, dear friend, you understood.  My colleagues would gently tease me of my tears, but I was never ashamed of them – I was a front-row witness to your growth.  Few people get this pleasure, and I selfishly love getting the best seat in the house.

Often when we were together in class, I have imagined you ten to twenty years into the future.  I see you with a hard-earned college degree, a loving spouse, a growing career, little children clinging to your leg, a comfortable home, and an active part in your local Bible assembly.  I see you being approached by co-workers about the truth of Christ and of Heaven.  I see you facing the growing anti-Christian sentiment of this generation.  I hope and pray that I have trained you well.

And now you’re moving on.  The tight bell-mandated schedule that controlled your every secondary school minute is now over. College days will now offer a head-swimming freedom.  Some grads will use this emancipation as a self-indulgent epicurean romp of semesters-long immaturity.  Others will invest this time so wisely that they will reap dividends to the end of their days. I am eager and hopeful that you will be wise on this new path.

I’m watching you walking cap-and-gown this coming Sunday, and the sobering thought for me, as with many teachers, is that even though we have spent many years together, you will forget me. Over the years I have grown accustomed to that, even though it is difficult.

However, I didn’t teach you so that you would remember me.  I taught you so that you would be empowered in Christ.

And that, my good friend, is the exciting part about your new steps. I am looking at you, a pioneer, stepping out and blazing a new path.  As I have told you in class, I taught you the truth of 2 Timothy 2:2 – I taught you to be a teacher.  I have trained you to be a Godly instructor of His kingdom, and your instruction goes beyond words.  It’s your walk as well.

Your potential amazes me.  Your enthusiasm enthralls me. Your opportunities fascinate me.

Now, go.  Go.

Take your first steps into this new part of your life.

I leave you with one request, and I offer George Bernard Shaw’s quote:

The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor.”

Be honorable, my friend.  Be honorable.

Now I’m going to try to fight this lump in my chest, so I’m going to sign off.  I love you very much and I will pray for you.  You have my word on that.  Highway into the sunset

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