This time of year always makes me start singing Europe’s song “Final Countdown”. I just had to tell Alexa to play something else because that song is still bouncing around in my head. Graduation time…the final countdown is on.
I have been in Student Ministry for 17 years. Most of those years have been in full time ministry, which means that I have seen over 12 graduating classes walk across the stage at church and be recognized for their accomplishments. It is always a bittersweet time for a Student Pastor because it means that students you have poured yourself into and shepherded will be heading off to school/work. You hope that you have done a good job. This is even more true for parents of those graduating seniors.
I know many times parents are wondering what to do at this time of their lives. They are getting ready to congratulate their student on 13 years of school from kindergarten through 12th grade. Some parents are about to experience being empty nesters and some parents whose oldest student is in 7th grade are looking at the seniors as they walk across the stage and thinking about what it will be like when their student is doing that in a few short years. I know that Jennifer and I have already thought about what it will be like when Henry and Caleb graduate from high school and have had people tell us, “Enjoy these days, because the will be past you in a flash.” I wanted to give some encouragement for both parents of seniors and parents of younger children today.
Lets take a look at Psalm 127
1Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
3Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
There are lots of Psalms, but this is a Psalm for parents. This Psalm has so much for parents to digest, but is especially important at graduation time. Lets take a look at 5 truths from Psalm 127
- Be a house that the Lord built- Allow God to be an important part of your house. Let your kids see you reading the Bible, praying, and living out your faith in front of others in your daily life. Some lessons in life are taught, some are caught, and some take both to stick. Be a Joshua 24:15 house where you make a statement that you and your house will follow the Lord.
- Be a house that the Lord guards- Many of you have concerns about the culture that we find our students growing up in. Social media, relationships, driving a car for the first time, academic achievement, athletic achievement…the list could go on, but the point is that we many concerns for our students. In verse 1 it tells us that unless God watches over the city, the watchmen watch in vain. Allow God to watch over your children. Actively pray for your students. Just as Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord, do that with your children and know that God will take better care of them than you have.
- Your children are a blessing- This is probably one of the hardest points to type. I have 2 awesome little boys that are completely different (if you know my kids, you know how true that statement is). Most people who have interactions with them tell Jennifer and I that they love them and the little hearts. However, I will say that they don’t always seem like blessings to us. They are like any other set of brothers. They fight, squabble, take things from each other, annoy the mess out of each other, and annoy us as parents at times. They disappoint us as parents. They sin…oh man do they sin. I know that there are many of you that are nodding in agreement with these statements. Our kids aren’t always easy to handle, but when you get down to it they are a blessing and reward from God. God has blessed us beyond anything we could ever imagine with those 2 little boys.
- It’s launch time- Children are a blessing and reward from God. However, God gave us children to raise, but not keep forever. He has entrusted us with an amazing gift, but He also asks us to share that gift with others. There is wonderful imagery here of children being like arrows. Arrows aren’t meant to be looked at and not used. They are meant to be shot with a bow for a purpose. They are instruments of war and hunting. We are to send our children out as warriors for Christ into a world that wants to war against Him and the Gospel. Children are very much like the Gospel. It is a wonderful gift that God gave us in Jesus’ death and resurrection, but it is a gift that we should not keep to ourselves. We are commanded to share it with others. Children are the same way, in that they are a blessing, just as the Gospel is to us. How much bigger can that blessing be when we share it with others?
- The Final Countdown- So you’ve raised a teenager and you see them walk across the stage at graduation. There is one thing that I know all parents hope for their child and that is that they are successful. The end of Psalm 127 shows us that we, as parents, want to see our children succeed in life. We want to see them begin to walk into adulthood and, while they may stumble, to walk on their own 2 feet. Even more importantly, we want to prepare them to, “talk to their enemies in the gate.” We want our students to understand that this world can be a tough place to have faith in Jesus, but that we can live in it and show people, even our enemies, the love of Christ.