The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful. Proverbs 22, verse 12.
A couple of days ago (in the first of these graduation messages), I wrote that I hoped my daughter wouldn’t worry too much. This verse is the reason why. If you read the verse a few times, I think you’ll agree that it’s a good verse to capstone a student’s educational career. The first part of it reminds us that God is in control of all we learn. He gives us knowledge, then keeps in tune with what we learn and know. God is an active participant, not a disinterested tutor. He doesn’t do it just for the years we’re in school: the proverb infers that learning is an always thing, a lifelong pursuit. It also promises constant, loving justice. Notice that it doesn’t say “He thoroughly annihilates everyone who hurts Him.” It could because He could, but that wouldn’t be in His nature. Instead, He ‘frustrates the words’ of the unfaithful. And make no mistake about it: we are all unfaithful in our own ways. He uses His option as God to mess up the intentions of people who live contrary to what He wants for us. That’s done as a just follow-through to His watch over knowledge. He does it to teach us about His love and the good He wants for us. It’s yet another loving second chance when we don’t deserve it. Knowing all that (in watched-over knowledge), here are the last things I want to telegraph to my girl before she walks across the stage.
First, remember justice. God is just to us; be just to others. “Fair” really is a four-letter word, but there is truth to it and always remember that. Be fair to others, and be fair to yourself too. Always be tough on yourself; aspire to high standards and gauge your words and actions by the Word, by what’s right, and by your own internal barometer. In all that, remember to be just. Be tough on yourself, but be fair to yourself and others.
Next, keep learning. That’s a big point from this proverb. You’re past the point of learning things you HAVE TO learn. From now on, whether you acknowledge it or not, you learn what you want to. The learning starts every day when you open your eyes. Don’t close off your mind to it. Accept everything that happens at face value but be shrewd and learn to be discerning without becoming cynical.
Don’t wait. I like that Kenny Chesney song that says “don’t blink.” Now when I hear it, I’ll think of you. I can’t believe how fast 18 years have gone, and I can’t wait for your next 18 because wonderful things will happen. When those have passed, you’ll be in your late 30s and me in my mid-60s. Much will happen to mold, redefine and shape you. Seek those moments and love in them. Don’t wait for them. Live now, live well, live lovingly and enjoy them. Cherish every single moment.
Forgive. Life isn’t full of second chances: it is full of unlimited opportunities. Our God is a god of unlimited chances when we genuinely turn from our wrongs. He lived among us as a man whose purpose was to love in forgiveness. That’s THE great, practical example for you to follow. Forgive as He forgave. Live and learn (because He is watching over your knowledge). Whatever happens in life, accept it, forgive, learn, and don’t forget. Forgive with gusto and justice.
Love generously. Need I say it again? Love wisely but fully. Don’t hold back.
Finally, just like Lynyrd Skynyrd said, “don’t forget there is someone up above.” Don’t forget your Savior. He is smiling and celebrating with you here and now; He is part of your life whether you remember Him or not. It’s ok and good to ‘go Jesus.’ Indeed, the strange people are the ones who deny something so obvious and wonderful just for the right to say “my way.” Involve Him in your life, in your decisions, in your fears, in your tears, and in your joy. He won’t ever let you down and when it’s all done, we’re gonna have a big party in what lies beyond. He will be the party.
My friend, Vern, posted these words today that, I believe, segue perfectly off the proverb and are a good prayer for a new adult to remember as she goes forth to build her career: “Lord God, when it seems that the very foundations are being destroyed, and that it is beyond me to do anything about it, and all I want to do is flee like a bird to a mountain refuge, let me remember that your justice flows from your heavenly throne, and that if I look for you, I will see your face, your presence in the world.” They are paraphrased from Psalm 11. His presence has been in every moment of your education, and in every moment of your life. That only gets better now that the easy part is complete.
For awhile, we were helicopter parents, your mother and I. For awhile, we both obsessed in our own ways about your grades, your responsibilities, and your actions. In spite of that, you’ve been exposed to much that more sheltered kids never see. These days, it’s a triumph if you can raise a child to graduation in the US and not go through crime, jail, drugs, addiction, pregnancy, divorce, trauma, or suicide. It’s my regret that you lived through some of those things, but in spite of them (not because of them) you stand today as a success. At the end, it’s all good and is all done in love as parents who love you more than themselves. It’s my pleasure and my joy to share these small words as I do, but it pales against the pleasure and joy of being the dad to a great young woman who is on the verge of even greater things to come. I know they are yet to come because the eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful. Let that be a great comfort to you. Congratulations, Samantha Morgan. I’m proud of you, I love you, and I believe in you. Now go out and get em.