A couple of weeks ago, my daughter walked across the stage in front of a church to receive her high school diploma. Over the years, I have considered how we would mark this milestone in her life. Our family has no tradition of a Bat Mitzvah or Quinceañera to welcome her into adulthood, so as I considered this moment—her high school graduation—last year, I thought about what we could do to mark the occasion.
After some consideration, I bought a Bible. It was one of those Bibles with wide margins filled with lines for notes. It was big and heavy and it was on sale. For the past twelve months, I’ve used that Bible. In it, I have made notes about sermons I was preaching, about stories that brought me particular comfort when I was struggling, and about verses that show how I saw God working in her life.
This weekend, I will give her that Bible. The Bible that I have made my own over the past year will now be hers to make her own in the days ahead. I know that this Bible may end up collecting dust on a shelf, or worse, sit in the bottom of a box in a closet, but I won’t let that discourage me from giving it to her. Because I have hope that this Bible symbolizes.
I have hope—that prayers at bedtime and in the car and as a family, that worship services Sunday after Sunday, that morning Sunday school classes and evening GEMS club meetings, that years as a little one in a Christian school and then as a Christian kid in a public school, and, that doing life together as a family rooted in faith—will all continue to bear fruit in her life.
I have hope that God is still working in my child’s life, even when she does not recognize it. I have hope that God will continue to walk alongside her parents (me and my husband) in those times when her absence at university is felt deeply.
And as I reflect with hope, I also find joy. I have joy as I recall the great cloud of witnesses who have loved this girl—teachers and leaders and family and friends—some of whom who have already gone on to glory. There have been people who took the vows made at her baptism seriously. There have been people from all walks of life who have joined us along the way. There have been more moments of pain and mercy, miracles and grace than I had ever conjured in my imagination. But there has always been hope.
It is through hope that we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19), so let us look to the future with hope, let us reflect on the past with joy, and let us live today with both.