With thousands of students finishing their academic careers in one form or another, there are many decisions to make. In one sense, that final walk in the ceremonial attire of a cap and gown in front of family, friends, and fellow graduates is one of joy, exuberance, and pride. Honestly, it is very difficult to keep from smiling both from a spectator’s and graduate’s perspective. Tears of joy and happiness will no doubt flow from the eyes of mothers, fathers, and grandparents. It is always, for every graduate no matter the level of education, a bittersweet end. Bitter as you reflect on the past years of sharing life, learning, and growing alongside the same people day-in and day-out; yet sweet as you celebrate the accomplishment with your fellow graduates and friends as you look to the future. While the future of every graduate seems bright and promising on that joyous day of celebration as an influx of congratulations seem to never cease, reality sinks in the next day for some and the next month for others. The reality of the question, “What next?” Life didn’t end with the celebration of their completion of school. There are a plethora of options and on the surface, there are some simple choices. High school graduates will either continue their education at a college or university, enter into the work force, join the military, or sit at home and do nothing with a diploma hanging on the wall. Undergraduate college graduates will either continue their education at a professional school/enter into a Master’s program, enter into the work force, join the military, or sit at home and do nothing with two diplomas hanging on the wall. Graduate students graduating from either a Master’s program or professional school will either continue their job in the work force, join the military, finish a doctorate degree, or sit at home and do nothing with three (possibly four) diplomas hanging on the wall.
The Questions and Purpose of Young Christians
With these options in mind, life begins to start happening much faster than it ever did. College goes by much faster than high school and the reality of needing a job sneaks up on everyone. In light of all of this, there are many decisions that need to be made after graduation (and for most, throughout their college or working careers). Serious decisions that young people have never had to make before are now thrown in their faces. As a young Christian, the question becomes, “What does God want me to do now?” I would like to advise all of the young graduates that are about to be thrown into the world, particularly young Christians. Do not be so concerned with finding out God’s perfect will for your life at this point. I know how you feel. You want an answer, and an immediate one at that from God. You ask Him, “College or work force?” “If college, which one?” “What should my major be?” “What job do you want me to have?” Now, is it wrong to question God, or to seek His face during this confusing time? Of course not, and I would even encourage it. However, questions of this sort, along with other factors (parents, society, friends, etc.), can be a hindrance to your finding God’s will for your life. By the way, the basic will for your life and for the life of every other Christ-follower is to praise His name, be satisfied in Him above all else, and make His glory known to all peoples of all nations. Without question, this is the will of God for every one of His children. However, the way this is carried out looks different for everyone. Not everyone is called to be pastors or teachers or doctors, but in whatever you are called to do, do it all to the glory of God to make the gospel of Jesus Christ known and His name praised.
The Best Time for a Young Christian
The way in which you go about discovering what His specific will for your life is will require patience, obedience, discipline, and devotion to Him. I can promise you that by seeking God during this confusing time, you will discover His glory, grace, power, awesomeness, and love in a more astounding way than you would have ever thought possible. I am personally going through a very difficult decision-making process and through it, I have grown exponentially closer to God. Many say correctly that it is during the college years that so many young people turn from God. I agree that this is probably due to added temptations and a first time experiment with worldly freedom for most. However, for God’s true children; for you, His beloved son or daughter, I tell you that now is the best time to grow closer to God than you ever have before. You are in a vulnerable position which produces a humility which God loves. He loves a humble heart and He will reveal Himself to you. My own college experience thus far has taught me that God is sovereign and He is worthy. He is worthy of my all (literally speaking) in every aspect of my life and even including my very life. Use this confusing and apprehensive season in your life to draw nearer to God and experience Him more fully than you ever did. I promise you that you will, maybe for the first time, somewhat understand Psalm 16:11.
What Young Christians Will Receive
Now for some practicality. I am sure (actually 100% sure) that you will receive cards and letters from family, friends, and most directly from your church that will include this verse: “For I know the plans I have for you…plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). How predictable our churches can be. Do not misunderstand. This is a truthful verse and it is given with the best intentions by your family, friends, and church. So, don’t go to the 75 year-old women in your church and throw stones at them for trying to encourage you. However, I think you need much more than this. In fact, God has already given you a future and a hope by His grace in the Person Jesus Christ. By your faith in Him, you have been set free from sin, set free to obey Christ and walk in righteousness and ultimately you are saved from the punishment of eternal death and separation from God as you have been counted righteous and will one day walk in the presence of God forever. What a future you have! What a hope this is! I love this verse! Redemption was promised and redemption is given to all who believe and endure to the end, including you! This verse is not the most proper verse for this occasion though. I feel that most people do not appreciate the gravity of decisions that must be made. Honestly, you need to counsel God and petition Him and you can now do this by God’s grace through Christ’s intercession. What you need to do during this time more than anything else is, yes, to trust in the plans that He has for you and to rejoice in the future and hope you have in Christ, but even more than that, to abide in Christ.
What Young Christians Need
I much prefer this verse and passage for graduates: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8). Now, I know this will not fit on a card or short letter, but it is exactly what a graduate like you needs to read and realize. This is the passage that needs to be written on your heart as you make life-altering decisions and begin to encounter the world in a whole new way. You need Jesus. You need His word. You need His presence. You need His intercession. By abiding in Him, you will receive all of this, not to mention “whatever you wish” (which would obviously be within His will if you are abiding in Him) as you glorify the Father through the fruit that you bear. Again, this relates back to your ultimate goal in life as a Christ-follower, which is to glorify God in all that you do and make His name known and praised among all peoples of all nations. Abide in Christ. This means to seek Him, read His word, meditate on His Word, intentionally pray to Him, and by your faith in Him allow Him to produce much fruit in your life. You are the branch and you need the true vine in order to bear the fruit you are desiring to bear. What will this look like for you? I do not know. However, God does and by His will and in His way and time, He will fulfill it in you. How can you receive clarity and peace about how and where you should produce fruits and fulfill His specific purposes in your life? Abide in Him. Christ will abide in you as a result and by this you will “prove to be [His] disciples” (John 15:8). When you abide in Christ, His words will abide in you which will transform your heart and your mindset, setting your thoughts on the purposes and will of God. From this, your prayers will please God and you will receive what you are seeking, which is clarity for the decisions you must make.
Find His Will by Glorifying His Name
As you enter into this new season of your life, I pray you would do so guarding your heart. It is true that college/work force will bring you new temptations and Satan would love for you to abandon God and shame His name rather than increase the fame of His name. Do not allow confusion and uncertainties to overwhelm you. Instead, abide in Christ and allow His word to abide in you as He transforms your heart and mind to desire what He desires for your life. Only here will you discover what God wants you to do. Above all, remain faithful. Be patient and trust God’s sovereign rule and perfect timing. Temptation will come and forms of suffering are unavoidable, however, sin and death has been defeated. Rest in the work of Christ and your faith in Him. Worship Him as Lord every day and seek to bring glory and honor to His name through the fruits the True Vine will produce in you! The more you seek to glorify His name, the more joy and satisfaction you will find in Him and the closer you will come to discovering His specific will for your life. Could there be a greater purpose in life? I will leave you with one more verse to tattoo on your heart as you make decisions and head into college or the work force: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
By His Grace — For His Glory — For our Joy