The moments surrounding your graduation can be some of the most memorable snapshots that you will take with you the remainder of your life. How many people can look back at graduation pictures with regret due to the fact that they wasted opportunities or decided to head down a pathway that led them through many years of pain? A graduation ceremony is a great time to reflect, rejoice, and recommit yourself for the next phase of your life. As a Christian, it’s essential to remember the Lord and commit to walking faithfully before him all the days of your life—no matter what dreams and aspirations you may have.
Every year, our church hosts a graduation recognition dinner for the graduating class of high school seniors and their families. It’s a time for reflection, encouragement, and an opportunity to charge the graduates with their responsibility to walk faithfully before the Lord and to be good stewards of their time.
This tradition was started by a pastor who was on staff prior to my arrival, and I think it’s a really good way to honor and encourage at the same time. One of the traditions at this meal is the reading of letters from the parents to their graduating senior. The parents submit their letters ahead of time and another man or woman will read the letter aloud while the parents are sitting with their graduate. While I’ve spoken at this dinner in the life of our church on numerous occasions over the last 13 years, this year was our oldest child’s graduation celebration and needless to say, it was filled with joy and a flood of emotions.
What you will see below is the letter I wrote to my daughter that was read at the graduation dinner.
Dear Karis Layne Buice,
As I reflect down memory lane and consider this moment, there’s a rush of emotions that I feel as all parents do as they walk with their little girl to this point of accomplishment and celebration. I want you to know that I’m very proud of the young lady you have become. Allow me to explain why it is that I’m so excited for you.
Reflecting on the Early Memories
I still remember how we made the big announcement of your birth as we gathered together in Maui, Hawaii for a wonderful family vacation at the end of our first year of seminary. Our waitress came to the table with an appetizer that contained a note announcing to our family that you were a little girl! That was January of 2005, and you were born six months later.
From that moment on, our lives changed. Our lives changed for the good. There’s something unique about your first child because you have this idea that you’re expecting a baby, but you don’t put much thought into personality and all of the unique qualities that make up a person. Your mother and I have loved you from the day we learned of Kari’s pregnancy and to this moment—we’re proud to be your parents.
Reflecting on Your Faith in Christ
From an early age, you were taught the gospel. That message was proclaimed while you were in your mother’s womb. You were read the gospel and taught the good news of Jesus from an early age. In fact, one of my favorite moments is when you learned your first Bible verse by memory and recited it on video to our family when we lived in Tennessee. Even then, with a bit of Tennessee twang in your voice, you recited by memory John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
What a blessing it was to watch you profess faith in Christ at a tender age and then follow Christ in baptism. Even more, today your faith is real, vibrant, and growing. It’s a beautiful thing as I watch you become shaped by the gospel as you continue onward in the faith and as you become a young lady in the life of our local church family.
The fruit of the Spirit shapes the identity of a person. The impact of the Spirit in us affects how we view the world and how we engage the world. It’s a joy to see you defend the faith without fear, stand for truth without compromise, and exemplify a love for the Lord with a desire to faithfully submit to his Lordship. A strong and robust faith in the life of a woman produces beautiful characteristics that I clearly see evident in you.
Reflecting on the Big Day
Today we celebrate a big accomplishment as we’re gathered together with our church friends and family. I want you to know how proud I am of you. You’ve put in a great deal of effort and remained diligent in your studies (with the exception of math, but that’s another story for another day).
Big days are worth celebrating because they cause us to reflect upon the effort and obstacles that have been overcome in order to complete the journey. You should be happy as you think back to the time you’ve spent gathered together in class with other students of Classical Conversations over the years that has now culminated in this celebration this weekend. Remember the funny moments, the laughter, the difficult projects, faces of history, mock trial, dissections, and most importantly—math!
In all seriousness, I want you to take this opportunity to be grateful for the lasting impact of your faithful mother who has invested hours of reading the Scriptures, assisting you in writing papers, correcting, encouraging, cheering you on, and celebrating victories along the way. You are indeed blessed by such a godly example and faithful teacher. Many students complete their education, and upon graduation they have little to no access to their teachers ever again. That will not be your story. You will have ongoing access to your teacher, although in a different mothering role, in the next phase of your life.
Well done! I’m proud to be your dad!
As you prepare for these next steps, remember to keep your gaze focused on Christ. Whatever your next steps entail, know that you have parents who love and support you, a church that is at the center of your life, and whatever you do—do it all for the glory of our great God.
One of the great characteristics that I see in your life is perseverance. You were diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes as a young girl, and I remember that day very well. I remember crawling up in the bed with you and reading Romans 8 and finding hope in God as we drifted off to sleep in the hospital. Yet, from the very beginning of that journey, you have never allowed it to hold you back. You’ve played sports, worked jobs, traveled the world, and you’ve never allowed it to keep you from reaching big goals. Just as you’ve been determined to persevere in life when you’ve faced physical challenges, I want you to remain determined to persevere in the faith and to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength—no matter what the rest of the world decides to do.
One of my favorite verses is found at the end of the first letter penned by Paul to the church at Corinth. It reads: “1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” There’s a big world out there. But never fail to keep your eyes fixed upon our God who rules this world. May your life be filled with joy and peace as you seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt 6:33). As you navigate the curvy paths of this life, you will experience mountain top joys and valley disappointments. Never forget the Scriptures you’ve been taught from a child that undergird your faith. Always remember that God’s Word is sufficient for all of life and God will never fail you.
I’m excited for you. There is so much ahead that you’ve yet to experience, and in God’s good time those moments will unfold. Remember that in each phase of life there are unique moments to enjoy that will never repeat themselves. Your post-high school single days will never repeat themselves, so while you enjoy those days maintain the balance of not wasting your life. Soon enough, you will have your own family and life begins to pick up speed. Enjoy God along the way and learn to enjoy the good things that come from above. Don’t waste the opportunities to glorify God in each season of life. These are exciting days, and yet a good moment to commit yourself to a Godward life.
Psalm 113:3 – From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!
My prayer for you is that you will become a faithful wife, mother, and grandmother who invests in generations to come for the glory of our great God. So, when it comes time for a guy to come knocking at the door….well, let’s talk about that on another day!
In all seriousness, never underestimate the importance of a faithful woman who loves God with her whole heart and commits herself to passionately and faithfully serving Him. The hallways of church history are filled with stories of such faithfulness. May you be counted among them.
You have made my heart rejoice.
I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you in the days to come.
I love you!