Graduation Day!

“Looking at herself in the mirror, Jennifer noticed that her graduation cap was off slightly to her left. She adjusted it so that it was perfectly aligned, took a deep breath and exhaled. This was her big day. Twelve years and Kindergarten culminated with today’s ceremony. She had come to this classroom at this time because she knew she would be able to spend a few moments in solitude reflecting upon the past four years of High School.”

Throughout our lives, we become more experienced with the process of decision making. It is in our best interest for our decisions to reflect wise choices. Determining which choice is the wisest requires research, reflection, and oftentimes counsel from others. However, the effort is well worth it.

There had been good moments, like the many times she and her three dear friends had spent the night at her home, staying up until 4am discussing guys and laughing. And then there were those bad moments as well; like when Steve broke off the relationship because he had become close to Karen, the Senior Prom Queen who had moved in next door to where he lived. All of that was behind now. The last four years will never be forgotten. She was now looking forward to the next four years at the University of Southern California.

It had been a difficult choice for her. She had acceptance letters from five prestigious universities. She did not want to move too far away from her family in Virginia whom she was close to. In-state tuition discounts would be lost as well, which meant that student loans would now become a part of her life for years to come. But USC had a strong department for her major, stronger than the others. And that would be important for preparing her for graduate school. If she can do well at USC, she will have her choice of graduate schools. Graduating from the right graduate school will ensure her of a chance at starting her career at a better, higher-paying company, with a fast track to success in her field. This had been a calculated decision.

Whether we are choosing a college, a career, a spouse, a home, or a car, we will do our best to weigh all the data and make a wise decision. The consequences of making a bad decision on any of the above will cause distress, frustration, disappointment, and lost opportunity. What about religion? Most of us have never given so much as a single serious thought as to why we chose our current religious beliefs.

We shop for a computer and choose the one we do because it has more RAM and a larger monitor than the one the competitors are offering. Why is it that most seem willing to leave their minds on the doorstep when they enter their temple of religion? Aren’t the consequences of that decision potentially much greater than choosing the wrong computer?

I was recently returning home from Seattle, Washington. On the plane, I had a delightful discussion with the two gentlemen sitting next to me. They were claiming that a person should be able to believe whatever they want to believe. I asked them why they believed religion was important. They responded that it brought them peace. I shared with them that if that is all that is important to them, then by all means believe whatever they desire. However, if they are wanting their religion to provide eternal life in heaven, then truth does matter.

It seems to me that we will spend more time and intellectual effort choosing our next computer in order to save a hundred dollars than we will choosing the religion that very well may determine where and how we will spend eternity. We ought to embrace our religious beliefs, not only because they give us purpose, direction, and peace, but because they are true. Graduation day is coming. Eternal life is the prize. Life is one course that we cannot afford to fail.