RELIGION: Diploma | Reviews | athensreview.com
For the first time in three years, family and friends can once again fill stadiums, arenas and the auditorium to celebrate high school and college graduations. The masks are off and the smiles are back, youthful faces smiling at each other, seeking family and friends in the crowd. Mothers and fathers anxiously searching for sons and daughters.
Each graduate represents a unique story. Most are young. Some represent the first graduates in their families. Some are focused, with jobs lined up and a clear career path ahead of them. Some are still trying to find their way, not really knowing what they will do with the degree they have obtained. All of them, in one way or another, managed to complete their degree during the difficult days of Covid.
Some are like our son. In 1992, he entered university in the first year. But, like many others, he either wasn’t ready for college or college wasn’t ready for him. He lasted a few semesters, bouncing around at different universities before joining the Marine Corps. Over the years, in addition to serving our nation as a US Marine, he has developed a successful career in information technology. He married and raised our three older grandchildren in a Christian home. He turned out to be a wonderful husband and father and a Christian example in his community. Today he is 48 and this weekend, May 14, he will cross the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming where his daughter is a senior and his youngest is a freshman. He says he crammed his college degree in 30 years! Our whole family will be there to see him “walk” and celebrate, including his sister from Colorado and his brother from Minnesota.
Degrees inspire us because they not only celebrate a significant achievement, they celebrate new beginnings, new possibilities and opportunities. Education offers young people the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills that prepare them for the future. For those who are older, it offers the opportunity to retool, to start over, to pursue new dreams.
God loves to lead us to new dreams and new discoveries. In Isaiah he says, “From now on I will tell you new things, hidden things which are unknown to you” (Isaiah 48:6). Nothing is as important for a new beginning in life as a spiritual transformation that connects us to God and places in our hearts the values that give meaning to life. The proverbs say, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7). In Ezekiel, God said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).
God is always about new beginnings. It offers young people the opportunity to launch their lives on the path that leads to life and, for older people, the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start over. Whether or not you hold an official degree from an institution, whether you are nineteen or ninety years old, you can make a fresh start in life.
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a religious perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email [email protected]