Dear Boyce College Graduates,
It’s nearly midnight on the eve of your graduation. Your families, friends, and professors will soon awake with excitement as we prepare to watch you flow into Alumni Memorial Chapel in full regalia. You’ll enter to pomp and circumstance, with heads high and smiles broad, before rightfully receiving the sacred symbols of the education you’ve earned. We are proud of you, and grateful to God.
Then, after a couple hours, it’ll be over.
Graduation is a landing strip leading to a launchpad. You’ve finished what you started. Now it’s time to start what you finished. But what exactly are you supposed to do?
For years people have been asking you what you’re going to do with your life. When you were eight, they asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. When you were a teenager, they asked what colleges you were considering. As you’ve approached graduation, they’ve been asking, “What’s next?”
So what is next?
The what’s-next of your life is not just defined by calling and career, marriage and ministry, family and flourishing. It’s not just about your job and salary and influence. It’s not just about what you do, functionally. It’s about which cause will capture your imagination, which banner you’ll decide to raise, whose story you’ll choose to inhabit.
It’s about how you’ll define light, how you’ll define darkness, and what you’ll do to cast one over the other. And to that end, I would implore you:
Join the dawn.
At the center of your education stands the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Son of God. The day he rose, he began lifting the old cursed creation, including you, out of the grave with him. Jesus did not rise with the dawn. The dawn rose with Jesus.
And now, even today — the very day you graduate — he is scattering gospel light into the dark corners of the earth and the blinded chambers of human hearts, as far as the curse is found. He has dawned, and is dawning still. His story is a story of light, a story of the truest dawn you’ve ever seen.
You see, everyone is telling a story, and every one of these stories is trying to tell you (and sell you on) where we come from and where we’re going and what life is really about and how it works best and what you should value or buy or do to happily inhabit the story they’re selling.
But there’s only one true story of the world, and it’s the story you’ve been studying since day one at Boyce College. It’s the story of a dawn-expert, a light-scatterer, an eternal illuminator whose light shines in a darkness that cannot overcome him. He made the world, and though it’s gone dark, he has not left us in darkness. He has sent his light — even named his light — and Nazareth never saw anyone else like him. And now he wants your life and your labors to be a prism refracting his pure rays through your background and personality and gifts and vocation and education.
He wants you to join the dawn.
This is something you can do.
You can’t control what job you’ll get. You can’t make Mr. or Mrs. Right marry you. You can’t know whether you’ll have kids, or how much money you’ll make, or where you’ll live, or what kind of suffering you’ll experience. There’s a lot of what’s-next that’s just not up to you.
But you can spend your life joining the hand-scarred Christ in pressing up the dawn: sharing the gospel, loving your neighbors, serving your church, discipling young Christians, working with integrity, giving generously, and showing your new neighbors or your fellow grad school students or your professional colleagues or your growing family the full-orbed light of Christ.
Because today, at your graduation, another dawn begins cresting the horizon. It’s the dawn of your life. We’ve all seen the glow on the eastern sky, threatening to break out. Your parents and pastors and teachers and coaches and mentors have seen it coming. They’ve watched you toddle and trip and play and pretend. They’ve seen you stumble and sin and grow into your own skin. They’ve cared for, hoped for, and prayed for you. They’ve cried when you left for college, and they’ll laugh with you today. They’ve seen this day coming. They’ve seen the dawn coming. We’ve all seen it.
And now it’s time for you to decide what you’re going to do with all your grown-up light. What should you do?
Join your dawn to his, and multiply the light. Use your gifts for his purposes. Give your energy to his causes. Shape your will by his Word. Form your priorities with his values. Find your direction with his compass. Mark your life with his character. Fill your gaze with his beauty. And fill the world’s darkness with his dawn.
I don’t know what the rest of your life will hold. I don’t even know what the rest of today will hold. But I do know one thing: the sun rose and is rising, and there is an invincible burning orb pressing upward in the east and blanketing the landscape with light. It rises, imperceptibly but unmistakably, as though held in the scarred hands of an ascending Lord.
The light has come, and is coming. So take all that you have and all that you are, and join the dawn.
Until all things are new,