As I type this, I am preparing for our fifth high school graduation and looking forward to the celebration of this milestone in our son’s life. At the same time, I am having an emotional crisis. No matter how many times we go through this, it just seems surreal as each child’s life passes so quickly in front of my mind’s eye. I can see back to his dimply cute baby face, then to his broad smile as he worked with his dad on manly projects. My head is spinning with the memories. I’d like to only remember the good times, but has it all been good? Honestly, there were many days of struggles, too. But I have learned to number the days and pray for a heart of wisdom.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

This reminded me of a graduation speech I was asked to give to a homeschool group that had a celebration for their eighth graders graduating into high school. This was a year after my own first homeschool high school graduate. I think it is still relevant today. Let’s listen in:

Greetings parents and graduates! This graduation ceremony is a milestone for the young men and women gathered here today, but also a milestone in the life of the parents of these graduates. I am sure you are all very proud of these young people and very thankful for how far you have all come. Last year, I graduated my first son from our high school, and it was a very emotional time for me. I, who never lack for words, stood before my son and couldn’t say even one word because of all the emotions and memories that were flooding through me in that moment. I am feeling it again with you today. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful support group for home educators in your area that would provide this beautiful celebration.

I’d like to start by addressing the graduates and then I will address the parents and all who have come to support and celebrate these young people.

To the Graduates

Grads, I want you to listen carefully as I read this theme verse. There will be no quiz at the end this time. You’ve earned a break from quizzes today. But, listen carefully, because it’s very important. It’s found in Romans 12 and I am going to read verses 10, 11, and 12.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; but fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer (Romans 12:10 – 12)

Graduates, this is an exciting time in your life – a time between childhood and adulthood. A time to really start seeking God for direction in your own life. What has He already placed within you that just needs to be developed now for His use? Your theme verse today says, “Not slothful in business” which another translation states, “Not lagging in diligence.” This graduation from 8th grade into high school is not the time to be slack, rather to take the next step in maturity and move forward with your parents in gaining wisdom and direction.

Your parents have sacrificed so much to get you to this place, and have been willing to give all that it takes to educate you to this point. Now, it’s your turn to take these next few years to give back to them by partnering with them and being a student that is willing to learn, one who is teachable, a person of excellence in character, and ready to give it all you have. This is a time to begin to accept responsibility for learning independently, a time to serve the Lord with the gifts He’s given you, a time to take your faith as your own, and acknowledge God as your life planner.

God has so much good in store for you. He needs young men and women of character and strength to be His ambassadors. He needs you to represent Him as the King from another land, the King you hold allegiance to, the King who has your heart and your life in His hands. This is the time to be firm in your commitment to love God and love others; to give of your time and talents whenever and wherever needed; to be an example in life, speech, love and purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

Your theme verse says “not lagging in diligence, but fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” This is the time to do just that. It’s not a time to be conformed to the world or to give in to worldly pressures or pleasures. It’s not a time to be wasted on temporal things. This is the time to lay aside the idea that you are here to seek pleasure or to be merely entertained. This is the time to choose friends wisely as the Scriptures say that a companion of fools comes to destruction (Proverbs 13:20).

Now is the time, graduate, to serve the LORD, and also to give back to your parents for helping you achieve this milestone today. Now it’s your turn to help them by being teachable, pure and humble. They are proud of you today and will be even more so as they see you growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Congratulations, students, for coming this far and thank you, Lord, for leading us all to this point.

To the Parents

I bet you can clearly remember the day these graduates were born; you remember their first words, and then when they learned to read – how exciting that was! If you take a snapshot of that baby and then look at this graduate sitting before us, you realize in an instant that time doesn’t stand still. And just as fast as this time has passed, the next season in their life will be here soon.

From babyhood to graduation, you have purposed to give them the best. As your theme verse in Romans suggests, and as I said to your graduates, this is also not the time for you as parents to lag in diligence, but to serve the Lord, fervent in spirit, as you take these children through the next milestone in their lives.

This is not the time to quit teaching your student. I am here to say if you can teach a child through eighth grade, you can continue to teach through high school. If God has convicted you to home educate your children when they were young, and you believe He was speaking truth to you when they were young, why would that change? The truth of God’s Word does not change over time. As His truth doesn’t change, so our conviction to follow that truth should remain the same, so we should continue trusting Him for the future.

You can rejoice in hope for where you are heading, therefore, you can be patient in tribulation (and believe me, there will be some trying times as you probably well know) knowing that God is behind you all the way. Not only is He behind you; He is ahead of you preparing the way for each new step.

Parents, I know the joy you feel at this milestone, and I also know the fear you could be feeling for the future. I am encouraging you to cast all your cares on the Lord for He cares for you, and, you can do all things – even teaching high school – through Christ Who strengthens you. Congratulations, parents, for coming this far and thank you, Lord, for leading us to this milestone.

To the Family and Friends

To all of you who support these children and families, I am so blessed to see you here celebrating with them. Homeschooling is a difficult venture for some and one that requires total commitment. So, I admonish you to continue supporting these families with your love and kind words and deeds. You help make this journey of homeschooling smoother by your love and support. As the Romans passage said, we can all be instant in prayer, and I know these families would be blessed to know you are praying for them as they continue the journey.

We can all lift each other up and support each other. Now is the time to rally together and help each other. Those who have homeschooled for a while, you are desperately needed by the new homeschool families to encourage and support them in the beginning of their journey. After I had been homeschooling for several years and was confident in what I was doing, I knew it was time to start giving back to the homeschool community. This is part of our call to be fervent in spirit serving the Lord – to give our help and support because we have been given so much wisdom and encouragement to share. There is a time to be served and then there is a time to serve. We will all be blessed by your service.

Graduates: this is a time to give back to your parents and to be a partner with them as you start to take responsibility for your education and be a blessing to your family and your community. This is the time to be diligent, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord with the gifts He’s given you. You will make your high school years great if you make the Lord great in your life.

Parents: this is the time to continue in diligence serving the Lord by educating His children in a Godly fashion. They are not yours to do with as you wish – they are gifts from God to raise according to His Biblical principles and commands. This is the time to encourage them and support them in the gifts and abilities God has already placed in them to be used for His glory. Continue pouring the Word of God into their lives as you coach them through their high school years and beyond.

To everyone here today: thank you for your support of these graduates. It is incredible to see these young men and women of character and excellence here before us. This is just an inkling of the reward stored up for your obedience to God’s leading in every area of your life. God has been faithful to bring you to this point, and His faithfulness to you will not stop as you continue stewarding and raising His children for His glory.

Now back to you, my readers. We have been given these children to steward for just a few short years, then they are given the responsibility to make their own decisions and live a life of their own choosing. We can give them the best head start into life by teaching them, coaching them, encouraging them, and keeping them Home Where They Belong.

Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.

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Deborah Wuehler is wife to Richard and mom to eight gifts from heaven. She loves digging for buried treasure in the Word, reading, writing, homeschooling, and dark chocolate!