Letter to Graduates

Dear Students and Graduates,

Many years ago, fishermen, from the town of Brittany in England, would pray, "Keep me, 0 God; my boat is so small, and Thy ocean so wide" before they launched their boats each morning. Their prayer reflected two things that they had experienced in their lives as fishermen: (1) that each day was filled with uncertainties and (2) that they were dependent upon God to bless their labors.

I believe a parallel can be made between you and these fishermen. You, too, stand on a shore. You are ready to launch, as it were, your boat on the ocean of life. As the fishermen of Brittany, you face an uncertain future. You do not know what you will confront each day, nor the dangers and temptations that lurk in your paths. You do not know whether you will achieve success or experience failure. You do not know what disappointments you will be called upon to bear. Above all, an endless eternity lies before you and even today that important question comes to you, "How and where will you spend it?" Our future is truly a mystery, and with Job we must say, "For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing."

Also, as the fishermen, you need the Lord’s help as you pursue a career or further your education. You can not give yourself the wisdom, the health, or the strength you need each day. It is only "in Him we live, and move, and have our being." God emphasizes this in Psalm 127:1, where we read, "Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." You are dependent upon His blessing on all that you do.

At this time, you are undoubtedly filled with excitement and optimism, looking forward to the future. You are looking forward to the future with anticipation, expecting to achieve success and live a happy life. This was most likely the same case with the fishermen when they were young. But they learned from painful experience that life is filled with uncertainty and difficulties. You, too, will face disappointments and will be required to learn the same lessons.

But I can also direct you to One who is able to help you in time of need. There was a time when He stood on a shore and called to fishermen, "Children, have you any meat?" They, too, had experienced uncertainties and disappointment. They had set out that day expecting to catch fish, but instead had to admit that they had labored all night and caught nothing. He then told them to cast on the right side of the ship, the side of human impossibilities. They had to learn all over again that which He had instructed them during the course of His entire ministry, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." What happened then? They caught so many fish that their nets almost broke. He is the same God today, students and graduates. He "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."

As you launch your boat on the ocean of uncertainties, it is our prayer that you might truly experience what Christ taught His disciples when He said to them, "Without me ye can do nothing." For if you come to realize this blessed truth, you will feel your need of His help and blessing on all that lies before you. You will also be able to understand in a small measure what is meant when the apostle Paul said, "For when I am weak, then am I strong," and "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."? We hope that you will also remember this simple, yet comprehensive prayer of the fishermen, "Help me, 0 God; my boat is so small, and Thy ocean so wide."

May the Lord remember each of you in His mercy and we wish you His richest blessings as you go into the unknown future.

Adapted from a commencment address to the graduating class of 1997 by Ron Klaasen, School Board President of Plymouth Christian Schools, Grand Rapids, Michigan.