We have several young people who are soon going away to college. Some have been home for the summer and are about to return for a new semester. We love you all and we’re very proud of you. We miss you when you’re gone.
The road you’re about to travel is at once an exciting and dangerous one. The road to higher education is laced with great possibilities, while at the same time offering pitfalls you will want to avoid at all costs. I just want a few minutes of your time to suggest some things to help you as you travel this new road and are immersed in this new environment. Is that OK?
My admonitions are based on the Psalm 119:9-16.
Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way?” it asks.
Stay close to God’s word (vs. 9). “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanses his way?” That is the question. And the answer is forthcoming. “By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” No matter what you do this year, don’t stray far from the word of God. Keep it close. It’s your protection against evil inclinations and cultural temptations.
Seek the Lord whole-heartedly (vs. 10). “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” Some changes are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to change. Some things need to stay as they are. You don’t want to change what you are. You’re a Christian. You decide what you’re going to do—and that’s well and good—but plan to seek God with your whole heart, no matter your plans. Keep your faith above all keeping. No change is needed there.
Take the word with you (vs. 11). “Thy word have I hid in my heart.” You’ll be going some places that are new to you; and some of those new places are dangerous. Hide His word in your heart so that you are armed against the invasions of evil you no doubt will face. What a good way to begin this new time in your life—with His word in your heart.
Invite divine instruction (vs. 12). “Teach me thy statutes,” he says. You will be getting considerable new information about how to live life in your new educational career, but you should not forget to invite some new instruction concerning your eternal career. Being a good Christian is more important than being a good engineer, or a good nurse, or a good anything else. Learn about Him and you get the best of all educations.
Don’t be ashamed of who you are (vs. 13). It’s easy to get caught up in this new life. And it’s easy to just follow along with others, some of whom don’t share your convictions. Don’t let that happen. It’s important that you make it known early on that you are different. Don’t be ashamed. Be glad about who you are and let others know. Declare it with joy and without timidity.
Don’t be dismayed at the discipline of God’s word (vs. 14). It’s easy, when you’ve just been loosed from the rules of home and you’re in charge of your life, to be a little loose about the discipline of God’s word. Instead of treating the word of God with rejoicing, you may feel somewhat hemmed in by it. Remember, God’s word never requires anything or restricts anything that is not for your good. “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies,” says that you understand its discipline to be for your good.
Keep in mind the really important things in your life (vs. 15). No matter how good the education you get, it’s not as important, nor is it as functional, as is knowing and loving God and His word. “I will meditate on thy precepts,” the psalm says. Don’t get so busy with your new life that you don’t take time to contemplate the eternal, to muse about the spiritual, to remember what has true value and lasting consequences. Meditation takes time. Take the time.
Delight in His word and don’t forget its influence in your life (vs. 16). Of all the books you can study, none should delight your mind more than the word of the Lord. It’s the first thing you need to live a happy life, first before any other book. When it’s coupled with the good education you will no doubt achieve, it can bring you a totally satisfying life. Without it, you can never be truly happy. “I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy ways.”
We love you, gang. We’re proud of you—every one of you. You continue to be a joy to all of us. As you leave, please remember who you are, from whence you are come, and where you’re going. And come home again soon.