One of my favorite games as a child was “May I?” You probably remember the game. You would position yourself in one place and at a distance would be another person, whose role in the game was to give you commands as to the steps you would need to take to close the gap between the two of you. The person would invite you to take either a “giant step” or a “baby step.” Obviously, everyone on the receiving end relished the giant steps. The “catch” of the game was that before you took the assigned step, you had to respond, “May I?” If you gave the right response, you were allowed to take the step assigned. If you didn’t, you had to go all the way back to the starting point. Needless to say, only the patient souls made it to the other side. The impatient ones inevitably found themselves in an embarrassingly constant cycle of retreat.
I’ve thought about that game this week as we approach our annual Senior Recognition, which is this Sunday at both services. At this recognition we celebrate with our high school graduates and acknowledge all other graduates as well. Graduation is of course a most special time, where those who have received diplomas stand ready to take the next step into the good future God has for them to know.
Interestingly, the very word “graduate” comes from a Latin root that means “to step.” Graduates, therefore, inherently anticipate moving into a future for which they have been preparing for many years. All of the classroom experiences they have known are intended to form them into lifelong learners who will keep developing as the years go by.
My hope for the graduates in our church is that as they move ahead in life, they will be careful to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice directing their every path. If they obey the Spirit’s invitation, they will be assured of knowing God’s abundant favor. If they disobey, either out of impatience, arrogance, or outright rebellion, they can be certain that they will find themselves far, far away from where such favor rests.
Our church has done a good job of providing opportunities for their faith development over these past years. Now, we have the privilege one last time to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates and assure them of our ongoing prayers and support. Some will take giant steps away from Mountain Brook in order to show faithfulness to the Spirit’s lead. Others will take steps that will keep them closer to home. Either way, doing what God asks is the surest way for them (and for us) to find life’s greatest purpose and the joy of God’s salvation, which always makes everyday existence complete.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).