You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech.
Greetings to each of you, students, faculty and board members of the Seaford School District. I’m sure one of the first things you’ll notice about this copy of the speech that I will be presenting to you is the date of submission. I am fully aware that this copy should have been submitted to you yesterday, April 7, 2013, and that I missed the deadline by one day, and all I can say to that is that I guess some things never change. I’m sure those of you who went to school with me, or taught me, remember that I was notorious for missing deadlines, however, I offer a different excuse to you this time.
Since I no longer own a dog, and since I am a minister, I can’t lie to you and tell you that my dog ate my homework assignment. Instead, I will just stick to the truth. Yesterday, when I received this request, I was stunned. As a student of Seaford Senior High School, I was at best, a mediocre student, and without a doubt, a member of the “unpopular” crowd. I wondered at first if this were some cruel practical joke, like the kind that many of my former classmates used to delight in, and I wasn’t sure how or if I should respond. On top of that, yesterday, I was having internet issues, which made responding impossible. Finally, after much deliberation, I decided to respond to your invitation, regardless of your motives, because the subject matter, the Path of Life, is one that is near and dear to my heart.
The first thing that came to my mind when I think about the Path of Life is a Diana Ross song that was popular when I was a freshman in high school, Do You Know Where You’re Going To?
When I was in high school, I had no idea where I was going to. All I wanted to do was just go — somewhere, anywhere far, far away. I wanted to escape from home, where I was physically, sexually and verbally abused, and I wanted to escape from school, where I was rejected by my classmates and teachers, because I wasn’t smart enough or pretty enough to meet anyone’s standards.
It took me many years to find the Path of Life that leads to joy, and along the way, I made several wrong turns, as I sought love and happiness. In school, much time is spent teaching students to search for their career and education paths, and while obtaining a good education and finding the right career path are important, I’ve learned that both are of very little import when seeking the Path of Life.
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Many of the things that I learned as a child, I’ve had to unlearn as an adult, because they simply were not true. I know that some of you were taught to believe in some lies that have not helped you on your quest for the Path of Life, but have hindered you. There is not enough time to address all of the lies we were taught, but if I may, I would like to take just a few minutes to address some of the lies that I grew up believing, and that perhaps you, too have been taught by your families, your peers, your teachers, your employers, etc…
- If you do not succeed in school, it will ruin your life…
- While I encourage everyone to work hard and to always do his/her best in all you do, the truth is that not everyone achieves academic success, and your life will not be ruined because you were not able to do well academically.
- You can be or do anything you put your mind to, and if you don’t achieve whatever goal you have set before yourself (or someone else has set before you), it is because you didn’t try hard enough…
- This is not true. God has given each person different gifts and talents, and not everyone who desires to be an all-star athlete will achieve this goal, no matter how hard they try. It is important for us to set realistic goals for ourselves, and strive hard to meet those goals.
- If you fail at something, you’re a loser…
- What a lie! Albert Einstein was considered a failure by many, including his teachers. In fact, once he got out of school, Einstein was unable to find a job because none of his teachers liked him enough to write him a letter of recommendation. This same Albert Einstein would be called a genius in his later years.
- Failure at something does not ruin your life. Instead, failure can spur us on to try harder, and can oftentimes lead to success.
Today, I’ve come to share the Path of Life with you, and though this path is often wrought with loneliness and peril, this road leads to life, whereas the other path, though seemingly much easier and more well-traveled, always ultimately leads to death. The first thing you need to know about the Path of Life, is that this is a one-way road. There are no shortcuts, no U-Turns, and no two-way traffic. So, how do you find this Path of Life? The night before He was crucified, Jesus talked to His disciples about this very subject…
1 “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in Me. 2 There are many rooms in My Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. 4 And you know where I am going and how to get there.”
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We haven’t any idea where You are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”
I traveled down many roads in my life, before I came to the Path of Life, and it was when I chose to go that way, that I discovered purpose for my life. You see, another lie that I believed until I began to walk the way of truth and life was that I was worthless, and that I would never amount to anything. When I began to walk the right way, I discovered that I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.
I also learned that I am not worthless. Contrary to that, I am so valuable in the eyes of God, that He gave His only begotten Son as a ransom for my freedom. In fact, Jesus was willing to die a shameful death on the cross for the joy that was set before Him… Do you know what that joy was? The joy that was set before Him was me, and every other man, woman and child who chooses to follow the Path of Life through Him.
My friends, there are many different paths for you to choose in this life, but there is only one path that leads to life. There is only one way to God. There is only one narrow road to heaven. Despite what many people may claim, all roads do not lead to heaven. Jesus Himself made it perfectly clear that the only way to God is through Him.
It is a fact that God gives everyone the choice of where he/she will spend eternity, and it is not His will that any should perish. He makes it very clear that the wages of sin is death, but that He offers a free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. All you have to do is choose whom and what you will serve. Will you choose to serve Christ and live? Or will you choose to serve someone or something else and die? It’s your choice. Moses made the choice crystal clear thousands of years ago, when he spoke to the Jewish people before they crossed over into the promised land, and his words are just as clear today, as you are given the same choice. Will you choose the Path of Life or will you choose the road to hell?
11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand or perform. 12 It is not up in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go to heaven and bring it down so we can hear and obey it?’ 13 It is not beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear and obey it?’ 14 The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death. 16 I have commanded you today to love the LORD your God and to keep His commands, laws, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and become a great nation, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. 17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! 20 Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey Him and commit yourself to Him, for He is your life.”
Cheryl A. Showers