Notes to the Class of 2000

June 4, 2000

Hello and congratulations. You are the first graduating class of the new millennium. There won’t be another class like yours for a thousand years. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? You might as well celebrate the occasion because what we used to call “real life” is about to hit you in the face. A few weeks ago Ann Landers ran a column of advice for today’s graduates. I think it was called Ten Commandments for Graduates or something like that. It was all about responsibility, working hard, doing your best, paying your debts, not goofing off, and keeping your promises. In other words, it was exactly the kind of stuff that older folks always say to the young even though when we were young we didn’t pay that much attention either.

And why should you pay attention when you graduate? You’ve been taking advice from my generation for many years. As you will soon discover, lots of what you learned will never come in handy, but some of it will, and you can’t know in advance what you really need to know. When I think back to my own high school graduation, I am staggered at how little I really knew about anything. But like most people, I picked up what I needed as life rolled along. You will, too.

If you want some free advice, here it is: Remember that God is in control of your life. That means he knows where you’ve been, where you are right now, and where you’re going to be tomorrow. He knows where you’ll be in five years and in 45 years. And he knows everything that will happen between now and then. For some people this is a prison. For others it is a pathway to freedom. Life is very uncertain for all of us and sometimes downright scary. The line between joy and sorrow is very thin. Before your days on earth are done, you’ll have your share of laughter and tears, and I suspect that tears will teach you more than laughter. But life with God is also a great adventure because you never know what a day may bring. And since all things are possible with God, you can get up every morning expecting something good to happen.

Here’s another piece of advice: Dream big. Dreams are free and you’ll never win a gold medal for dreaming small and aiming low. Only God knows how far you can go. Don’t let anyone else put limits on what you can do.

One final word and I’m done. Enjoy each day as a gift from God. Have a blast while you last. Remember your Creator while you are young and when you are old you will look back with no regrets.

May your future be as bright as the joy in your eyes tonight. Thanks for listening. Let the party begin.

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