Every Christmas, the Teat family is afforded a Christmas vacation. This past year it was to Universal Studios. Universal Studios is home to an interesting rollercoaster. The coaster is themed after the Marvel superhero Hulk, you know, the scientist who looses his head and turns green and very destructive. The coaster mimics the process of turning to Hulk. The coaster starts as any coaster does with a slow ascent to the top of the first hill. The surprise of the coaster is that midway up the slow ascent, the coaster accelerates from 0-60mph in 2 seconds. The coaster takes a seemingly anxious ride to the top of the hill and makes it happen instantly with a surprise jolt.Watch Hulk Here! I believe that life is much like this coaster. It moves slow at the beginning and then in an instant you are accelerating faster and faster until the end.
It has been eleven years since I graduated from high school. I remember that graduation ceremony and the feeling of finality after it. It seemed that the 12 years of school leading to that night had been an eternity. I remember seeing college graduation, marriage, and children as a mirage in the future that would never arrive. Boy, was I wrong! Like the rollercoaster, life accelerated; marriage, undergraduate school, full-time job, kid, kid, graduate school, kid, new job. I had barely blinked and life was in full swing and there was no going back! I know now that another ten years at high speed and I will have a house full of teenagers who think I’m lame, make fun of my clothes, and think that they will never grow up!
As I reflect on the rapidly accelerating rollercoaster that is my life, I dread it! I dread the day that my children will graduate, that my children will marry, and the day that my children will care for me. I know I should be more trusting and less selfish with my kids and their future… but I have chosen to be honest here.
Having been in student ministry for 9 years, I’ve done my share of graduate Sundays. I love the pictures that parents submit, it tells a lot. Parents in a celebratory, yet mournful way, dig out telling pictures of their children. They always submit a cute picture of their graduate from childhood, then a humiliating middle school picture, and then a current adult picture. Each picture represents a cherishing of the time past and a celebration of the time to come. The parents ask, “Where did the time go?”. The students share the sentiment, they just do it differently. The students are usually excited about the future and have little thoughts or tears about the past; they ask, “What took so long?”. The two views seem in opposition but they aren’t, they are the same coin. While students don’t carry the affections of a parent, they carry something else. They carry the most sincere form of flattery… imitation. The goals may be different, the path may look like rebellion, the word may not be texted, typed, or said, but the way is there. Our kids will imitate us. They will imitate our relationships, our integrity, our social interaction, and our motivation. They will do what we do, they will say what we say, and will be what we are.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says something interesting, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. My hope for our graduating seniors is that they would be more than a great memory, a present blessing, or a future caregiver, but that they would be imitators of Christ. I pray that they would imitate His love, His desire for justice, and His passion for the world beyond His church. I pray that my kids and the kids that are graduating this year will be the body of Christ at college, at work, and at home.