Memo to the Class of 1999

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your graduation from Oak Park Christian Academy. This is a momentous event worthy of much celebration. Tonight you are crossing the threshold that leads from childhood to being an adult. This being the season of graduation, and since we are living in an age where our greatest lessons come from kindergarten, here are a few brief thoughts that may help you along the way.The woman who said, “Wear sunscreen” had a good point. But it’s not a big deal if you don’t.Life is short. It probably doesn’t seem that way today, but soon enough you’ll look back and wonder where the years went.Enjoy your teenage years–they won’t last forever.Don’t be afraid to tell your parents what’s on your mind. It helps if you tell them where you are going and who is going with you and when you will be back. They are much more likely to say yes if they have all the details in advance. Don’t believe everything you hear but don’t be a total skeptic either. Ask hard questions about what you believe. Better now than later.Don’t forget where you came from. Stay in touch with old friends. They won’t be impressed with your success but they won’t be bothered by your failures either. Be careful who you pal around with. Be friendly with everyone but choosy about your best friends. Center your social life around friends from the youth group at church.Be kind to old people. You’ll be rewarded in many ways.Find your passion and then follow it. God never wastes anything, especially not the desires he puts inside your heart. Find out what you like to do, learn how to do it well, and then spend the rest of your life doing it. Figure out what you won’t do and then don’t do it. You’ll be happy you didn’t. Stand up for what you believe is right–even if you have to stand alone.It’s Ok to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know.Each day there will be something you want to do and something you don’t want to do. Do what you don’t want to do first. “Do the thing and the power will be given you.”Don’t be a couch potato. There’s plenty of time for that later. Make a list of the things you’d like to do before you retire. Put the list where you can find it every few years so you can see how you’re doing. Thirty years from now the list will give you a good laugh. When you mess up, admit it. When you do wrong, confess it. The sooner, the better. The first price you pay is always the cheapest. Read the Bible. You’ll be amazed how much good stuff is in there.Sing in the shower. This is good for the soul.Ask God for the gift of a grateful heart. Find reasons to be thankful. Practice saying “Thank you” every day.Honor your parents. God promised a special blessing when you do, and they deserve it. Even if you don’t think they do, they do, and even if they don’t, you need to do it anyway.Keep a journal. 25 years from now you’ll wish you had remembered these days. Over the years you will be able to trace God’s fingerprints in your life.Get a job when you’re old enough and make some money. This will benefit you and make your parents happy.Smile. Life is too short not to enjoy each day. Always have some duct tape handy. And a 3x5 card. Trust me on this.Memo to guys: Girls are mysterious. This will not change over the years. Memo to girls: Guys don’t have a clue. Never have, never will.Learn how to write well and how to speak in public. If you can do those two things, you will always be able to find a job. A good question–What would Jesus do? Another good question–How would my parents handle this? Another good question–How will I feel about this tomorrow? Another good question–What if my family and friends could see me now? Would they be glad or sad about the choices I am making?Remember that Success isn’t final and failure isn’t fatal. Popularity is overrated and jealousy doesn’t satisfy. Pray every day to become the person God wants you to be. It’s okay to say “I love you” to those who mean the most to you. Have we told you lately how much we love you? We do, and we love you so much we can hardly say it tonight without tears of joy. Remember the First Rule of the Spiritual Life: He’s God and we’re not.My congratulations to Rachel, Jennifer, Nick, Megan, Jordan, KC, Aaron, Megan, and Elizabeth. You are the largest graduating class in the history of OPCA and the final class of this century. We send you forth wrapped in our dreams, our hopes, our prayers, with joy, excitement, and with much anticipation. We can’t wait to see what you are to do and what God is going to do through you. On the night I graduated from high school almost 30 years ago, as I was walking off the football field a man stopped me. He was a preacher from a local church. Putting his hand on my shoulder, he said words I have never forgotten, “Ray, remember what Jesus said. ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ We’re expecting great things from you.” I say the same thing to you. To whom much is given, much is required. You have been given much. Now go out from this place and take on the world. We’ll be right behind you, always, cheering you on.Congratulations to the Class of 1999. May your dreams be greater than your memories. God bless you.

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