I’m sure there are mixed emotions as we sit here tonight. Some of us, and probably most of us, are very happy that graduation is finally here, for it means that our thirteen years of required education are now completely in the past. But at the same time we’re going to miss all the friends that we have made, the teachers who have taught us so willingly, and even everyday high school life. We’ve all complained more than once how tired we were of school, but as we leave the classroom we’re going to realize that these past thirteen years were some of the best years of our lives. The training that we have received and the experiences we have had at our Christian school are some things that we will never quite forget.
The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Our parents realized the importance of this verse many years ago. It is what we learn as children that makes us the kind of person we will be. As children and young people we learn about the world in general, about morals — what is right and wrong — and how each of us as individuals fit into society. In connection with this Scripture verse, what better place is there to teach children and young people all these things than in a Christian school? For a Christian school means just that — a school that focuses on Christ in every classroom.
Especially this past year one of my teachers has made me realize more than ever that God does hold a place in every aspect of our lives. He has shown the beautiful relationship between science and religion, and has clearly demonstrated that the closer we get to scientific and technological truths, the closer we get to God. All the tremendous discoveries and advancements of science were not credited to man, but were attributed to God Who placed these wonders in the hands of His creatures. This is only one example of how all our learning was put into the proper Christian perspectives.
Now as we stand before this night of graduation, we realize that our Christian education is our most valuable asset as we go on to higher education, or find a job and take our place in the community. Those of us who go on to college are going to meet many kids who this past year have wasted valuable time and money violently protesting against established systems, and against the government that God has placed over them. They have burned draft cards, rioted and killed, torn down buildings, and looted and destroyed property in protest of the war in Vietnam. In many universities across the nation the teachers and professors are no better than the students. There may very well be a place for protesting, and we should protest when things are wrong, but we should always do so in a decent and orderly manner, working peacefully within the framework of the law.
Those of us who don’t go on to college will be looking for jobs. All across the country places of employment require that no one may be refused a job because of “race, color or creed.” But as we begin our search for a job, we’re going to find that the stronger our beliefs, and the closer we cling to our creed, the more difficult it will be to get a job. Many employers do not want to hire someone who believes that the Sabbath must be kept holy. I’m sure many of us will find, too, that we will be working side by side, eight hours a day, with people who do not believe in God. We will not be able to associate or be one with them in much of their social life, their habits, and their speech.
Things will not become better, for we live in a changing world, a world that insists more loudly every day that Cod is dead. It won’t be easy in times like that to remember that we still have but one purpose in life. In times like those, fellow classmates, we must “dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose true, dare to make it known.”
And what is that purpose? Although each of us may say it in his own way, the answer is but one: to glorify God. We can do this by serving God and keeping His commandments, by sharing our joy in Christ with others, or by bringing our own children up in a home that is built on Christ. And we must all be giving consideration to the highest calling in life of someday finding ourselves back in the Christian school as teachers or in our churches as ministers of God’s Word. Somewhere each one of us will fit into God’s plan to glorify His name.
And that purpose will never change. The world may change, our friends may change; but our calling is always the same — wherever we take our place in life, whether it be at college, in a factory or office, or on the battlefield. If we are true to that purpose, we will soon find, as did Daniel of old, that although we may think we’re standing alone, God is always near us, to guide and keep us in his love.
*As the school year again draws to a close, the Beacon Lights Staff wishes to share with you the thoughts expressed by a recent high school graduate in this valedictory oration.