Summary: For Ascension and for Graduate Recognition: when we think we are ready for life, we may be the least ready! Trusting the Lord, however, will provide a challenging life plan. The church can and will support young adults who dream great dreams for the Lor
Every year about this time we engage in a little ritual. In May or June, proud families drive off to some distant university, there to celebrate with a young adult who has finally slugged through four or more years of classes, writing papers, taking exams, and surviving all-nighters, and who is now entitled to a piece of paper naming him or her a Bachelor of Arts. For that piece of paper, not only has the graduate invested blood, toil, tears, and sweat, but mom and dad have invested thousands of dollars for tuition, books, clothes, long distance calls, homesickness trips, emergencies, and credit card rescues. I hope it was worth it, because it certainly was expensive! It was huge! I remember a wedding I performed several years ago; the bride had just graduated from an expensive college, and now there was an expensive wedding to be paid for. So her father stood in the reception line, greeting everybody, with two empty pockets pulled out from his pants! But he still managed to smile. Generally we feel glad that it is over, so everyone congratulates the graduate, we party a while, we enjoy the commencement exercises, and we start to breathe again. It’s an annual spring ritual.
But Monday morning, after graduation, someone pops the big question, “What are you going to do now? What are your plans?” Am I right that the correct answer is not, “I am going to Hawaii to surf.”? Would I be on target to suggest that parents do not want to hear, “I am going to sleep until mom calls me for brunch.”? Somebody wants to hear the word, “work”, spoken loud and clear. “Work that you get paid for” sounds even better. In fact, at this point we cannot accept, “Oh, I think I’ll flip burgers at McDonald’s” or “I’m going back to baby-sitting like I did in high school.” No, you have a college degree, and so it is time for you to do something special, something big-time, something professional. It is time for you to pay off on this investment! What are you going to do now? The correct answer is, get a j-o-b!
But guess what!? Countless young people have found out that college degrees are about as marketable as screen doors for submarines! You can take that degree in English literature, with a specialty in pre-Raphaelite poetry, and they might hire you as a file clerk, because at least you do know the alphabet! You can take that diploma, whether it be the one that says you graduated cum laude, or, as the old joke puts it, the one that says you finished, “Oh lawdy” – you can take that diploma, and make a lovely place mat out of it, because, the real world is going to say that you are not ready. Despite all the preparation, all the waiting, all the money, the real world is going to tell young adults that they are not ready for real life.
This is a very strange time in history to be a young adult. Never before have we made so many young people wait so long for their lives to begin! Never before have we done to young adults what we are doing now. We have created a world of such complexity that what you can learn in traditional education does not necessarily prepare you, and so there is more training and more education and more preparation. And sometimes not even that works. I spoke not too long ago with one young man in the computer field, and asked him if he had thought about going back to school for a Master’s degree. He told me that that would be an absolute waste of time, because the graduate schools cannot keep up with the pace of change, so that the only way he could keep up was just to plunge in and learn by doing. Sink or swim. Young adults today face a world that an older generation can only begin to understand. I believe that, spiritually, it is a very frustrating world. It is an anxiety-ridden world. It is a world in which people think they have done what they need to do to prepare, only to find out that they are not ready. Not quite. There is always more.
Was it like that when a group of young adults pulled themselves together one day in Jerusalem? They had been preparing for their big moment. A couple of them named James and John felt that they were ready to be the CEO’s of this new company, the Kingdom. So where are our jobs, Jesus? No jobs, no titles, no stock option plan, no 401-k in sight. Another young man named Peter had gotten so frustrated that he just went fishing. It’s always comforting to go back to something you do know how to do, even if it isn’t what you prepared for. But he’d caught about all the fish he could handle. Do you think Peter might have been frustrated? Some of them had worked very hard at this discipleship thing; they had crossed every T and dotted every I and had followed Jesus up and down the roads; they had carefully taken notes on his lectures and had memorized his teachings, and they were “ready freddy”! But still, as they gathered in Jerusalem for their class reunion, there was nothing. No mandate. No job. No direction. Nothing.