Graduations Are Forever

8th Grade Graduation Speech – Thompsonville SDA School 2010

We are here today to honor this brief but vitally important portion of the graduations in the lives of C.J. Lingle and Samuel Dinzey. I don’t use the word portion lightly because their graduation did not begin here and won’t end here. The reason being, Graduation’s are forever—from the rocking in the cradle to the folding in the grave, graduations are forever—from pediatrics, to geriatrics graduations are forever—from the first kick in the womb to the last kick of the bucket, graduations are forever.

I’m sure Random House and Mister Webster have a wonderful definition for the word graduation, but I didn’t bother to look it up because there is a big difference between a definition of graduation and an explanation of graduation. However, if you’ll take the time, I have found the perfect place to find the explanation for graduations—it’s in a quite place, an often-secluded place known as a cemetery. The explanation is not found in the flowers or the beautiful monuments or inspiring words written there upon. You can only imagine the explanation of graduations in between the dates on the headstones. For those of you that have lost love ones so dear to you, there have been times when you stood with tear stained cheeks before that headstone as you read the date of their birth and the date of their passing, but did you notice the little – dash in between those dates–that little dash, my friends is the explanation that stands for hundreds of real life graduations.

These two young men here today are not experiencing their first graduation and it will certainly not be their last; it will be one of countless hundreds of graduations and commencement services they will encounter throughout life that will be included in their little dashes should the Lord tarry.

Let’s take a closer look at just what their dashes have included thus far.

First, there was the mad dash to the hospital after the contractions started and the labor pains began as their mothers were without a doubt yelling at their fathers and telling them, “This is all your fault.” Next came the “Midnight cry,” (different one from biblical midnight cry) where a midnight dash was made to the fridge for the bottle of formula. “What do you mean it’s my turn to get up, I fed him last time?” And let us not forget the diaper dash and the diaper rash and the dash to the outside trash. Whew!

Please remember that “graduations are forever” and they are for parents too.

Then came the graduation dashes from pabulum to plum pudding—rubber ducks to building blocks and the grand graduation dash for Daddy’s big boy—Tonka Trucks.  Mama (Idalia and Bobbie,) do you remember this one, “Honey come outside and watch Daddy’s boy sit in this mud puddle and dig with his Tonka Truck. Why are you looking at me like that Darling, get the camera?” Okay, okay, I’ll get the garden hose. Come on son, help daddy get out of trouble.

Graduations are forever. Somewhere in there, these young men graduated to their first kiss. It was probably from the little girl that lived next door—it involved her hitting him in the head with his Tonka Truck and her kissing his “boo boo.” Nevertheless, it was a kiss.

Turn the page and the mothers (Idalia and Bobbie) are in tears as they watch their baby boys graduate from the playpen to preschool not knowing how they can get through the day without them, however by the first grade, both mothers are putting a new twist to the chorus, “Free at Last, Free at Last, Praise God Almighty, I’m free at Last!” But as nature and nurture has its way, they do let the boys back into the house. That is until they graduate to the science project phase of life. Let me rehearse the science scenario—it’s Wednesday night – prayer meeting is almost over when your son leans over and says, “Mom, I forgot to tell you about my science project, I need to make a volcano.” You reply, okay son, your dad will help you, when is it due—“tomorrow,” he says!  Mama’s turn to their husbands and a commencement service begins—you will never guess “What Your Son” just told me. Here is where we graduate from the “Midnight Cry to the Midnight Volcano!” Daddies, don’t look at me like that—how many of you have made last minute, midnight science projects?

Mothers, (Idalia, Bobbie) have you ever thought, Thompsonville Christian School is going to be surprised when they find out I’m not going to come get him tomorrow after school? SCHOOL–Ring Ring—Hello, yes Mrs. Dinzey—Mrs. Lingle aren’t you going to pick up your son today? Mothers–No, I’ve decided that you can just keep him, I’ve had him long enough, he’s yours now. Thank you, bye.

Somewhere C.J and Samuel stopped being tricycle motors and curtains climbers and graduated to tree house trees and skinned-up knees and their quest to become “Indiana Jones in search for the Temple of Doom.” This graduation may have possibly cost their mothers many a prayer and search through the house, yard and trees looking for their death defying young-uns. It also brought on the scariest words a mother hoped she would never hear from the testosterone-damaged brains of their twelve-year-old male child. What were those words—two simple but dangerous words, “Watch This.”

But marvelously, this “Indiana Jones” attitude brought on another graduation and commencement—it’s called dreams, hopes, expectations, and aspirations. These are God given building blocks to start their foundation of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

C.J and Samuel, It’s okay to dream, it’s okay to dream when you’re a child, an adolescent or an adult. It all a part of graduations and “graduations are forever.” There are many people who only dream when they are asleep, however, it is the ones that dream while they are awake that will change the world.  If you will dream big for God, He will be there with you to help you fulfill those dreams.

Recently I watched a news anchor ask a graduating college senior what she was going to do now that she had graduated, she told him that she didn’t really have a clue. I dare to say that she was not a dreamer. C.J. What are your dreams for the Future? I hope you’re a dreamer for Jesus!  Samuel what are your dreams for the future? I hope you’re a dreamer for Jesus!

To all who are in attendance here today, I wish I could—I know I can’t, but if I could, I’d pick You all up and take you back to when you were six, eight or ten years old to when you were living in the old home place and let you relive your “graduations are forever” dreams in that secret place you called your own. Several years ago, I had the chance to visit the old house where I was raised and I was carried away in a myriad of childhood dreams and memories. Here is what happened.

I parked my car, got out and started up the sidewalk toward the front porch of my childhood home. I wondered if I had made an incorrect turn and ended up at the wrong address. Nope, the address was on the mailbox, 1226 North Street. This was a not mistake. This was the old home place where I had grown up. Although I hadn’t seen the old house for years, my childhood feelings and visions overtook my adult practicality and I was captured by the phantoms of my little boy moments.

Drifting off in reflection to the long, slick concrete front porch, painted green, I recalled how we flooded it with millions of gallons of water from our make-believe firehouse hose. We would then back up to Mr. Marshall’s fence and run for the polished porch, hit it on our knees and slide at speeds in excess of one hundred miles per hour. As we slid we prayed that our slide path would line up with the child catcher at the end of the porch, so that he could stop us from falling into the bottomless pit at the end. You see, if you fell off the porch’s end, there were thousands of poisonous snakes waiting to put their juice in you. And if you did go over the edge, you would be dead until you counted backwards from one hundred to one. So we would slide as much as we wanted to until Daddy came home from work and turned off the little green garden hose.

Next, my time machine imagination landed at the base of our gigantic oak tree in the front yard. The one that held our tree house, at least a thousand discarded tire swings, and numerous hand sawn swing boards–those evil swings that had deliberately broken several fragile little bones. Wow, what a tree it was! It was higher than the power poles, the television antennas and the Empire State Building. Our entire gang was not able to hold hands and circle that monstrous oak. We’d even watched bald eagles perching in the top branches of that majestic tree.

However, my most colorful delightful dreams were of the roof of that old house from which I used to fly. That’s right, C.J – Samuel, fly. When I was a little boy, I could fly. All it took was one of mother’s big bath towels tied around my neck and instantly I became Superman. I would shimmy up the vent pipe on the side of the house and up onto the roof. Then from the side of the house, I would make my way to the launching pad at the front of the house. From there I would kick off into the clear blue sky, wind in my face, flying faster than a speeding bullet, cape blowing in the breeze and outrunning every locomotive. I would sail for hours on end before finally floating to the ground. Landing in fine form with my cape still attached, I was always met by Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen waiting to interview me, their hero.

All of a sudden, I hit the hard ground of reality. I opened my natural eyes to discover a quaint little house that surely could not be the citadel of my childhood. I felt like Gulliver staring in awe at the Lilliputians. The house had shrunk; the huge oak tree had shriveled into a less than majestic maple. As I stepped up to my Superman launching pad roof line, I realized I could reach it standing flatfooted. Well at least the super slide front porch still seemed as large as ever, but what about the drop off at the porch’s end—the bottomless pit with all the snakes? It, too, had disappeared and was now only about a foot and a half from the top of the porch to the ground.

I now had to confront the truth. None of these things had changed, only me; I was the one that had changed. I had outgrown the imaginations of my childhood Memories. Nevertheless, I dare say that all those things were as real to me in my childhood as are my dreams, goals, desires and my commitment to Christ is today. Although I had changed, I knew in my heart there would never be an occasion where I will be disillusioned by a God that never changes. Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not;”

I encourage you to be a dreamer for God and to be a visionary for the cause of Christ. Your dreams of today may be your accomplishments for the Kingdom of God tomorrow. My childhood recollections appeared to have decreased in size because I had increased in stature; however, it happens the opposite way for those committed to Christ. The smaller we become, the bigger the Lord lives in us.  John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease

I said when I began this speech that it was a brief portion of your graduations. However, Neil Armstrong said it better as he spoke the famous first words being the first man to set foot on the moon. “One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.”

Jesus said it even better in Luke 14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

C.J. and Samuel, I pray that your dashes of life be dynamic!

C.J. and Samuel, I pray that your dreams be full of life!

C.J. and Samuel, I pray that your stay humble and Jesus be exalted!

C.J. and Samuel, I pray that you remember, “Graduations are forever!”

Let us pray.

Pastor Hal Steenson