During my time working with high school students, I’ve had many share with me challenges they face. Oftentimes, challenges are centered around challenging people. No matter the main cause of angst, the “drama” that is normally associated with high school is rather typical, and most times is short-lived. We who have successfully passed through the hallowed grounds of a high-school hallway remember all too well that world.
My encouragement to the students often includes a thought along these lines: John Doe, allow me to let you in on a little secret. No matter how bad you think it all is right now, and I’m not discounting your struggles or challenges because I’ve been through those similar struggles and challenges, too, the day you walk across that graduation stage, remove your cap and gown and stuff it back into the shipping box, all these little issues disappear in an instant. Your classmates head off towards different locations, often never to be seen again. What you thought was so, so bad, or so, so wonderful will be replaced by (sadly) more harrowing troubles and (gladly) more wondrous joys. Cheer up. You can make it. You simply stay focused on why you are here, keep your eye on the prize, and march forward. It will all be okay.
In processing my own advice, something occurred to me. What I tell these kids about high school applies to all of life…
The implications of this reality are messing me up right now. See, I would think those kids were mistaken if they believed the high school walls was the only reality they’d ever know. I would think they are missing the boat completely if they began to see those high school halls, it’s challenges, it’s joys, etc. as all encompassing. How strange it would be if they did everything they could to stay there, despite the fact such a stay is impossible.
Yet, I don’t I do the same thing?
Only, my “world” isn’t high school. It’s this world. I live here as if I’m never leaving. I worry about things that will vanish tomorrow. I put so much effort and worry towards establishing my kingdom. Why? Graduation is coming, and I can’t stay here forever.
Why not take my advice and see this world for what it is? This world is temporary. The same way high school must come to an end, life does too. And so much of high school is mirrored in life. High school has a desired end. The goal of high school is to adequately prepare you for the next stage in life through the cultivation of wisdom. The best high schools educate more than the mind, but the educate physically, emotionally, and most important, spiritually. Sadly, this end is too often forgotten by students. They see their time in high school as purposeless and painful. Some in high school forgo their future in favor of poor relationships (much like adults in their world). Some idolize athletes and sacrifice at the altar of athletics. Many do just enough to survive high school. Then, there are a few who keep the end goal in mind and live in the freedom that a single, over-arching goal gives. Christians should be like those students who allow our single, over-arching truth to give us freedom in clarifying life for us. Our story reminds us beautifully we are made for a better world.
The beauty of a school year is that it ends. Each year you come to grips with limited terms. School’s are wonderful places to learn the brevity of time. Just like terms are limited, and time is short in a school year, my life is limited and time is short. This may be the last blog post I ever write. I may not see the sun burst forth on the horizon as it boldly shows the power of light over darkness. When my final hour comes, will I see my life as a wasted life lived only for this world, or a life well lived in which in my words and actions, I’ve sought to bring Jesus’ better world here?
My advice to my students is no longer advice for them to see beyond the temporal world of high school, but advice to me to see become the temporal reality of our current world system. God has spoken. This world is passing away. His Kingdom is coming. We are invited to put our heads down, remember why we are here, and to keep our eyes on the goal of ushering in His kingdom, an infinitely better world. Should we do that, we might look back and find that we actually enjoyed our time here (Just as Jesus has hoped for us).
*Image from public domain.