My Commencement Address

During the months of May and June, celebrities and politicians grace the stages of many graduation ceremonies. They impart their version of wit, wisdom and advice for the newly matriculated. These commencement addresses are somewhat entertaining but often seem only moderately helpful.

I’ve not ever given a commencement address, but if I were to share some advice, my speech would be short and sweet. I’d probably be booed off the stage as I wouldn’t be able to keep from mentioning God, which seems to be a no-no these days.

My points would be based on two most important truths I’ve learned as I’ve made my way through a legalism-to-grace maze over the last 20-something years:

  1. God is bigger than we can imagine and cannot be put in a box.
  2. I don’t know everything. Correction, I don’t know much at all.

The first is something I discovered after believing for many years I (and my church) had God all figured out. We knew how he thought, what he thought and how he was going to work everything out. But after going through our huge doctrinal changes, we realized we didn’t know what we were talking about.

These two verses in Isaiah took on even more meaning: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV). It’s good to read these verses every day and even memorize them. I never want to think I come anywhere close to understanding the magnificent mystery of God.

The second is also something to remind ourselves of every day. When you think you know more than you do, more than others and even more than God, you’re in trouble. We see through a glass darkly or as the New Living Translation puts it, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I remember an inscription on the side of a building at college with the words, “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.” It’s from Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (NIV). The dictionary definition of fear of God is reverential awe or respect, reverence and veneration.

This verse seems like a good commencement to anything in life. To always be in awe of him and to continually remind ourselves of the dark, fuzzy reality we live in is to start every day on the right foot, ready to be led and taught by the one who really does know it all.

Leave a comment

Your comment