Spring is one of the most fruitful season of hope. There is the burst of new life from the dormancy of winter. There are Easter celebrations, proms, and of course graduations. The wheels of this go-go week has come to a temporary rest at a graduation program. I was invited by a young man graduating from Northwest High in Germantown. I was especially delighted as the commencement speaker is a favorite speaker of mines, Dr. Barry Black. In a combination of oratorical skill and compelling content he inspired longing audience in Constitution Hall to strive for excellence.
He spoke of his challenging childhood. Journeying from class dunce to class valediction. He shared his secrets for success:
- Going the extra mile
- Striving for excellence instead of watching tv
- Investing your life in something greater than yourself.
- Remain focused on the true prize and not mesmerized by material goods
Dr. Black spiced speech with the lives of civil right leaders who were giants to emulate.
He encouraged them to:
- Seize opportunities even if they come disguised as work.
- Strive fiercely and refuse to give less than their best.
- Tap into unused their potential.
He added a dash of reality by reminding them that some will prophesy failure, they needed to tackle the thing that cannot be done! The hall was filled with heartily appreciation for the delivery of this most gifted presenter, but the best was yet to come.
The person who brought the hall to their seat on several occasions was the student speaker. This young man who is autistic, shared his journey from 18 months to his present 18 years. With determination and hope he was able to accomplish great things. He and his family valued his life and with hope and courage faced a challenging future. His neighborhood also played a vital role in his journey. Neighbors baby sat, shared a casserole, words of encouragement, pats on the back, et al. The woman sitting behind me was such a neighbor. Her hooting betrayed her care.
The unspoken question I asked myself was, what would he had said that I added to his life if I had been his neighbor?
Life brings us many challenges that can make us just want to curl up in fetal dormancy. But we are called to take the hand of hope and move forward in faith, and make a difference in the lives in our neighborhoods. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 1 that we are bought not with something that fades and ruins like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, who was the pure and perfect lamb! Yes, God is indeed greater than our frailty, and he can use that frailty to reveal how great He is. The message of the cross is the message of hope for today. What an opportunity we have to share good news to a wanting neighborhood!
By: Chris Daley
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