Late May and early June is the season for graduation. Whether it is the close of a college or high school career, family and friends gather to celebrate the end of one chapter of a student’s life and the beginning of another. If you read my blog last week, you already know that Ryan just graduated high school last weekend. Because the school he attended is a supplemental co-op for homeschoolers, the ceremony was quite different from the normal graduation exercises. Instead of listening to a stream of guest speakers and watching hundreds of kids filing quickly across the stage to be handed a diploma by the director of school, at our school the parents of each graduate are afforded time to express their thoughts and then present the diploma. It is a very moving experience to hear homeschooling parents speak emotion-filled blessings over the child they have invested so many years to educate and raise.
While I offered my thoughts at Laura’s graduation a couple of years ago, Clif took the microphone to speak to Ryan last Friday. I thought his comments were so powerful that I would make room to share them here. While they were spoken directly to our son, the application is obvious for all believers who are dedicated to learning and striving to follow Christ. We need to listen closely to our Divine Instructor, trust His words, and apply them diligently to avoid dangers. I hope you will find the personal encouragement somewhere in his words that will spur you on in your journey toward growing up in Christ. (Eph 4:15)
“I was Ryan’s Cub Scout den leader and we’ve been together in Boy Scouts for about 11 years and of course that road has had its share of ups and downs. A couple of months ago, we went on a canoe trip down the Chattahoochee River which ended up being my last trip with him as a scout.
At almost 40 miles long, with a stiff wind in our faces, and a low water level, it was a trip that turned out to be a little more challenging than I had anticipated. Because I was paired in a canoe with his younger brother, Jason, this was the first river trip of this kind where Ryan would take the back seat and have primary control of his own boat. But watching him from behind as I strained to keep up with the pace he was setting, I was proud and strangely sad at the same time as I watched him strongly and confidently control his boat while giving instruction and guidance to his much less experienced bowman. It was then that I realized that he had gotten it. He had actually paid attention after all and learned from all the years of advice and coaching, and was now a capable and confident paddler.
This been an amazing year with Ryan. There’s been a bounty of good fruit in and from his life. From seeing him really begin to apply himself academically to standing back and watching while he made some hard choices in response to the leading of God’s Spirit within him.
For his whole life Ryan has been trained in our home with not just a pile of facts and occasionally useful trivia, but with truths in how to live and walk in godliness.
Ryan, it would be naive to think that you’ll never hit any rocks as you chart your course down life’s river because some of them just can’t be avoided, and some are there to teach important lessons. But I am confident that you now have the skills and knowledge to avoid most of the ones that will easily trap your peers, and when you do get briefly snagged, you’re equipped with the knowledge and skills to quickly get back on course.
Just always keep in mind that with Christ, you’ll never be in the boat alone.”