Summary: This sermon is a Baccaluerate or Confirmation message to challenge Graduates (and others) when they are in the Valley of Decisions.
I. Friday on the Internet I saw a pop up advertisement aimed at "Graduates" it showed a congratulations card, like you might get at Hallmark. On the cover it showed a Graduate getting their diploma, and the caption read: "Here you are Graduate, the card with cash!".
What graduate wouldn’t want to open a gift card with bundles of cash in it to send them off into the world? I remember the joy of childhood opening a birthday card from Grandma that only had $1 in it. And now graduating, maybe that $1 has some zero’s behind it. Then you look at the rest of the advertisement "The New Bank of America Visa Gift Card"...
No doubt the advertisement was aimed at getting graduates to make a decision; or parents to make the decision to give their child a "Visa Gift card". No doubt it is the new and improved, better than ever Visa Gift Card. But let me be clear in that decision making process, "Visa" is not cash, nor is it the same as cash, but it will later cost you cash.
As we come to a time of year when people are graduating High School and Colleges, we know this is a historic event in the lives of these young people. It is not something that is a "right" but is the result of personal achievement and accomplishment. When my cousin "Kevin", and really I often call Kevin my older brother because he lived with my family for several years; shared a room with me and my younger brother Daryl, and when he graduated in the mid 70’s on his wall read "Today is the first day of the rest of your life". Probably an overused cliché, but may in fact be the truth about defining the moment of graduation; or any significant moment in our life like a graduation. It is perhaps an historic day which for many marks the culmination of the first eighteen years of your life, and basically is to tell the everyone "Hey world, their ready" (Graduates you are ready), but the question may very well be, is the world ready for the Graduates?
In the moment of graduation and going out to some semblance of life on your own, you will begin making decisions that will change and form the rest of your life.
II. The prophet Joel (3:14) called it a "valley of decisions". "Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision." That is where I think we often find ourselves. Especially right now, in this moment, graduating Senior’s find themselves in the "valley of decisions". Graduating and stepping into the world. And the decisions that they will make, and that we make do and will shape the rest of our life. Decisions to go to college; decisions not to. Decisions about jobs; decisions about finances; dates; marriages; children. Decisions about relations, YES even about our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, these are all found in the "valley of decisions" and what you decide will affect who and what you become.
Sometimes, when you are graduating you feel kind-a-like "Superman", and we approach the world with a "Superman Theology". We approach the "Valley of Decisions" like we are the graduates; we have accomplished something; we have arrived. And you have, and we congratulate you on this, but we cannot send you, or ourselves out into the world thinking that this is all there is. We cannot send you out into the world with the "Super Graduate - Superman Theology!"