Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Walking the Stage

(Submitted by Kerry Patton)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

It felt like the most important day of my life. I remember thinking to myself “I’ve made it!  I’ve arrived.”  There I was on the stage of the ‘Gymatorium’ at Roscoe High School in Roscoe Texas in May of 1983.  With 14 of my fellow students, we were about to graduate.

My whole life was ahead of me it seemed.  I was headed to college at McMurry in Abilene, Texas, I was going to major in music and I was going to sing and tell people about the Lord Jesus in my songs.  That was the plan.  That was thirty-one years ago.

The fifteen of us graduates stood together on risers there on the stage.  With my name starting with “P”, I was one of the latter names called to cross the stage and receive my diploma.  But since there were only 15 of us that day, it didn’t take long! 

“Kerry David Patton.” The high school principle called my name.  I stepped out in my purple cap and gown and made my way to the podium, shook the superintendent’s hand and received my diploma.  It was official!!  I had walked the stage!!  I was DONE with school.  (Yeah.  Right. I would still have eight years of college, seminary, and related studies ahead of me.)

Life has been unfolding for thirty-one years since that day.  Little did I know that the Lord Jesus had other plans.  I would become a pastor, marry and eventually have four children.  Across the years I preached thousands of sermons to the nine different church families I would serve.  Weddings, funerals, camps, retreats, revivals…what an adventure it has been!

For my classmates whom I crossed that stage with over thirty years ago, their lives have been varied as well. I’m sure their lives have unfolded differently than they may have imagined: Perry now owns a tire dealership; Rebecca became a CPA, but tragically passed away unexpectedly a few years ago during a routine surgery; Gayla became a dentist; Wes a high school coach, teacher, and now a farmer; Jerry became a nurse; others to equally noble careers. 

None of us could have imagined though how richly life would unfold for us.  And I don’t write that consideration as if the best years are behind us.  What great plans does the Lord God have for each of us??  And God DOES have plans for you and me.  Jeremiah 29:11 says so! “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In William Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It”, Act II Scene VII, the melancholy Jaques speaks the words: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…” While there may be meaning to his monologue that I do not impose here, I would agree with Shakespeare that the world is a stage…and further that we are all vital players upon it.  We are not so much actors in the play of life, but key components…every one of us…vital to the story we tell with our every action, word, and deed.

My thought for you today through these ponderings is that today…and every day, we are walking across the stage…moving from one part of life…one chapter to another.  We are there with so many countless others, at various stages of life and varied circumstances. 

Whether you are a recent graduate, or a seasoned journeyman in this life, you are walking the stage today.  Let your light shine.  Let your faith be your covering and testimony.  As you make your exits and entrances upon the stage, show forth the character and spirit of our Lord Jesus. 

Almighty God, for every heartbeat today I give you thanks.  For every encounter, every conversation, every handshake, every embrace, I give you thanks and praise.  Help me make the best of my relationships, and invest deeply in the lives and love of others.  Be powerfully in me and guide me as I walk the stage today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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