“What’s next?” “Where you headed?” “What’s your plan?” “What sort of things do you like to do?” “Where have you applied?” High school seniors field these questions and several others during their senior year. In a world hyper-focused on defining people by what they do, here are six encouragements for parents to give to their graduate that focus on who they are:
# 1 Trust Christ, not your feelings.
Our culture seems to have made a god of one’s independent feelings. It is not Christ that rules, but feelings that rule. You maybe have heard it said that one cannot act until they feel like acting. But this causes problems for the believer: You do not want to trust Christ in prayer because you do not feel like it. You do not want to trust Christ in confession because you do not feel convicted. You do not want to pray for your enemy because you do not feel like it. You do not do what you know you ought to do, simply because you do not feel like it.
To say “God, I cannot trust You unless I feel this or that,” then you will, in effect, be saying, “I can trust my own feelings, but I cannot trust God.”
Scripture tells you who your hope is, and where your trust is to remain. Don’t wait for feelings to trust Jesus and what he tells you to do in his word. If you wait to trust Christ when you experience feelings of joy and peace, you will keep waiting. Joy and peace come from trusting in Christ, not before.
When your feelings cripple you from trusting in Christ, it means that something other than Christ has become ultimate in your life.
#2 Trust Christ, not the opinions of others.
You will receive praise and you will receive criticismin this life. You will please people and you will displease people. If your trust in Christ is predicated by the opinions of others, then you are not trusting in Christ. If you are simply doing what is expected of you by everyone around you, you are not trusting in Christ. Trusting in others’opinions about you will rob you of experiencing the transformative power of trusting Jesus in your life.
#3 Trusting Christ is walking by the Spirit.
Christ sends his Spirit to dwell in all those who trust in him, and all in whom the Spirit dwells belong to Christ. If the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through His Spirit. Trust Christ because His spirit brings you life and peace and frees you from living by works to living by grace.
In trusting Christ you don’t have to pretend to be something you are not. In Christ you do not have to be the savior of those around you. You do not have to project having it all together. You don’t have to be prideful because everyone thinks you’re amazing, or in despair because everyone thinks you are weak. You can approach God and others as you truly are: a sinner-saint, who trusts that it is Christ who redeems, it is Christ who heals, and it is Christ who brings the dead back to life.
#4 Trusting Christ sets you free.
Trusting in Christ sets you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what adhering to a list of do’s and don’ts cannot do for you. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, God through Christ took the condemnation of your sin on the cross. So in Christ, God forgave you and all your sins are gone—past, present, and future. That doesn’t mean you won’t sin, but it does mean that your sins have all been paid for,rendering you free in Christ.
#5 Trusting Christ allows you to love like Christ.
It is only Christ that frees you to love your neighbor with the same unconditional love you have received in Christ. This love is not concerned with keeping records, nor does it grow indifferent over time. This love grows in treasuring others as the reality of God’s grace grows in you.
If God is FOR those who trust in Christ, who can stand against you? You have the promise of God on your side. Notjust anygod, but the one and only God. God, who did not even spare his own Son but gave him up for you. How will He not also through Christ graciously give you all things you need in this life? If God gave you his own Son, what will he possibly hold back from you? It is God who justifies a person, not moral performance or good behavior.
#6 Confess and repent when life reveals you aren’t trusting Christ.
Most of the time, the circumstances in your life do not determine your trust, but reveal where your trust exists. When you are challenged by how frequently you do not trust in Christ, don’t despair. His grace is overwhelming. One of the first steps to trusting Jesus is confessing that you don’t. But, don’t settle for acknowledging your sin, flee from it by renewing yourself in the gospel.
What shall separate you from the love of Christ?
Shall a rough patch in college? Homesickness? Being misunderstood? Stress? Anxiety? Depression? Wealth? Poverty? Suffering? Persecution? Danger?
NO! In all of these things YOU are more than a conqueror through Christ who strengthens you. For neither death, nor life, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate those who trust in Christ from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God won’t let those who receive his Son in faith be separated from His everlasting love.
God has done an amazing work in saving you, He is going to continue His relentless work in forming you, and He promises to finish what He started. Trust Him.