Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What I Might Share With Graduates

John 3:3

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

I’m reading on my Facebook feed about a lot of young people graduating from High School and College. It has been 45 years since I graduated from High School. I haven’t heard of any reunions – but maybe for our 50th in five years. If I had a chance to speak with graduates – I might say something like today’s devotional thought.

As I thought about those days gone by – which seem so long ago and yet so recent too – I am reminded of my days in school – in the educational process. The early to mid 70’s were amazing years in my life. I was in High School – graduating in the spring of 1973 from Annapolis High School. I was in college before my senior year was over (attending classes in the summer) – attending AACC or as we said A2C2 (for those who don’t read math – that is A squared C squared). I graduated from AACC in 1975 and began to attend the University of Maryland. It seems so long ago and yet so recent.

During this time in my life I had one girl friend of one year and one girl friend for two years – names have been left out to save their reputations (I’m still friends with one today – a FB friend even – I have no idea where the other might be in life). I mention this because many of us go through relationships that come and go – that at the time we thought would be forever. I thought both of these young women might be the one I would spend the rest of my life with for sure – yet neither turned out to be my life partner. Life is so unsettled at times – we live – we learn – we hurt – we have happiness. I had friends during this time in my life that I thought would be life-time friends. One died way too young and others – mostly – have gone on with their lives and our lives have crossed ever so infrequently. It was during these days that I began using the following phrase – happiness is circumstantially driven, while joy is spiritually derived. My days were filled with circumstances that brought happiness and sadness – sometimes in the same event. What seemed so concrete and secure during this time in my life seems to be just a vague memory today.

So here we are – 45 years later – and little is the same from my High School days. I couldn’t fit into my High School Varsity jacket if I had a shoe horn and could pick up speed before trying to squeeze into it! Hardly any of my friends are still in my day-to-day life. Nothing seems to be the same. I run into people now and then – since I still live near Annapolis and have opportunity to be there from time to time. A fellow umpire from those years is now a leader in the State Government. I met some fellow basketball players while feeding the hungry one Thanksgiving (they were there to help as well). On Facebook we catch up with some classmates (it is still not too late for a 45th reunion folks).

In the late 70’s I found the woman of my dreams and married her (we’ve been married 38 come August this year – she is a saint for sure) – we had three daughters together and all of them have grown into wonderful young women. I currently have five granddaughters – my dad died nearly six years ago – my mom more recently. I have been in Christian ministry for 42 of those 45 years – and life has had its ups and downs for sure! It is so true that the older you get the faster times flies!

One thing has remained constant during all of these years – although it has grown – it remained constant too. That one thing in my life that has remained constant is Jesus (joy is spiritually derived). When I was 12 I gave my life to Jesus. I haven’t always been a model Christian for sure – but Jesus has never left me – nor has He ever forsaken me (Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.) Like Nicodemus was told in today’s passage – in order to enter the kingdom of God – one must be born again. Not return to the past – or be born from your mother’s womb again – but made afresh – made anew – in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

As I reflect on my 45 years since High School or on my 63 years of life – it is Jesus that remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) You too can be secure in one relationship in your life – as all others change. You too can know that you know that you know that you have eternal life in Christ. Let’s read what Jesus told Nicodemus.  John 3:1-8 – 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”  Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

I was born again in 1967 and although I didn’t always measure up to my salvation (we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s ideal for us – Romans 3:23) – my salvation is not based on what I do but rather it is based on the One in whom I believe. The grace of God that allowed me to be born again will carry me through all of the ups and downs of life – even to death’s door some day. Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

These might be some thoughts I would share today with graduates. Actually – I might share them with all of us for sure.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

May 23, 2018 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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