Dear graduates

Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve heard all the speeches now about going out and changing the world. If you’re a big dreamer, I hope you reach those dreams and persevere until they come true. And, frankly, if you want to change just your corner of the world in quiet, little ways, I hope you reach those dreams too. After all, the world needs quiet, gentle citizens just as much as it needs bold, dynamic leaders.

For all the plans that you are making, I have a secret: You have no idea if any of them will happen. Even those of us who are adults cannot tell you what the future holds. All we know (through experience) is that there will be some crazy good stuff and there will be wicked hard things—and you will never feel ready to handle any of it.

This is why I pray that you remember you have a God in heaven who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20,21).

Your vision of the future—no matter how bold and big your plans—is small compared to the amazing things God has designed for you.

He has good works planned for your whole life so that you can show you are his handmade creation. He will give you strength you didn’t know you possessed to get you through gut-wrenching grief. He will lead you to people and places that never even crossed your mind, and you get to shine his light to them. And his grace is bigger than we imagine to forgive all the sins we didn’t plan on doing.

Still, maybe you aren’t feeling confident about your path. After all, you weren’t the valedictorian or salutatorian. Maybe you weren’t even in the middle of your class. A recent survey showed that sometimes the people who change the world the most don’t have the highest GPA.

As much as this world’s biggest changers are often average students, the way God works too is that you are just the kind of person he uses to make a great big impact in this world and for the world to come.

The ragamuffin group he handpicked to be his main messengers admitted they weren’t at the top of their class: “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:2-4).

So, graduates, as you follow your dreams, resolve to know nothing else except Jesus. Follow the plans God has for you. And wherever he takes you, “don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. It’s been a while since she graduated from high school and college.