The life lesson for the dad of a graduate

Never thought it would come to this!  Went to Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday to attend my oldest son Andy’s graduation from Eureka High School. When you have kids, people visit the hospital and tell you how fast the time will go.  You nod and listen, but you don’t believe them.  When you are changing their first diaper you soak in the minute and believe they (and you) will be young forever.

Of course, God has a sense of humor, because right as we arrived the biggest thunderstorm joined us, and after dropping off my wife and daughter close to the door so their hair would not go flat (do you think we could have had an umbrella?  Of course not!), I parked the care and walked four blocks.  Thus ended my dream that the day would be full of sun, I was drenched, life had rained on my parade, literally.  The graduation ceremony itself was very nice.  Andy’s favorite teacher gave the address, and to be honest it may have been the best commencement speech I’ve heard.  During the evening I texted Andy a couple times, which was really funny because he couldn’t get to his phone through the robe, but I think he forgot to turn off the sound, so it kept going off.  He would just look up in the crowd and glare, of course his mom and I would laugh.  Like most graduations, the ceremony was long.  Reading off a list of close to 600 students takes a while.  On the way there I was sort of dreading this long, drawn out ceremony, but then it was done, and like everything else in life, I couldn’t believe it was over.  My son turned the tassle, he had a high school diploma, and it was time to go home.  Like the previous 18 years of life, when we were looking forward to the event it seemed like it would take forever, that time would stand still, and that we had plenty of time to contemplate the good things.  But when the event was over, looking back on it you realize it happens so fast, a couple blinks and it was over.

To be honest, it doesn’t seem like that long ago when I was the guy on stage moving the tassle and singing Friends are Friends Forever, the song by Michael W. Smith,  as a duet with a girl in my class.    Of course, I never really saw those friends that were to be forever, and I didn’t realize that singing that song would classify me in the dorks for life club at the time.  At every graduation I’ve ever attended or participated in we heard some variation of the “Now it’s your time, you can do whatever you want, make the most of your life,” speech.  But at the time you never realize how important you will find it in your life to hone in on clear purpose and priorities and live with those at the center of your existence.

The book of Ecclesiastes is effectively one of these speeches.  Several times in the book he uses the phrase, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2).  The Hebrew word can mean useless or meaningless, but it can also refer to the brevity of something, a vapor.  Solomon is telling the reader that life is like the vapor that comes out of your mouth when you exhale on a cold day.  For a moment it lingers in the air, then poof, gone.  When you hear these words looking forward, it is hard to believe.  But when life happens and you look back, oh my!  This is why the writer shares the importance of remembering our Creator in the days of one’s youth in Ecclesiastes 12:1.

Well, we did some calculations during the graduation (you have a little time to think and talk while they are reading all those names).  We have three more of these to attend for four more kids, plus college, graduate school, etc.  The way we charted things, Andy will also be the next graduation (assuming he actually graduates college… we’ll see).  We will become experts and critics on THE speech, because we will hear a lot of them.  Of course, the last high school graduation will happen when I am 59 years old.  See, I still have so much time (ha!).

When Andy was born I made a few commitments to him while holding him in the hospital.  I wanted him to know that he mattered, so I decided that I would set aside time to play ball and wrestle on the bed.  I wanted him to know that I loved his mom and was committed to her.  And most of all, I wanted him to know that I love Jesus deeply.  While I haven’t been perfect in these areas, I do hope that the commitment to these priorities has been passed on.  Now it is his turn to look forward, think he has forever, and start the next stage.  I hope an pray that he too will set clear priorities and live for the glory of God.  Because puff….

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