I remember the day very clearly. I had walked the aisle, crossed the stage, and excitedly received my high school diploma. Now I was headed out of the building on that bright sunny day to take on the world!
As I exited the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome I saw in front of me a brand new car complete with a bow on it! I knew it wasn’t for me. My parents couldn’t afford a new car of their own at that time much less buy me one. I looked over at my dad as we walked, he lowered his head. Tearing up he said, “Son, if anybody deserves a new car today it’s you! You’ve never given us trouble, you’ve honored us throughout high school and we’re so proud of you!”
It was about this time that I heard a high pitched squeal from the apparent new owner of the car. My dad never looked back to see who was receiving this awesome gift.
As we continued walking to our vehicle, I told both my mom and dad that what they had given to me in life was more than money could buy. And I meant it. I tried to encourage them that the new car would soon be considered old and used but that their teaching me how to put Jesus first in my life had been the most wonderful gift I could’ve ever been given, and that it was a gift that would keep giving life to me.
It seemed to relieve some of the weight from my dads shoulders but I wasn’t saying it to make him feel better. Truly, the gift they gave while raising me remains with me today. My wife and I are sharing that gift with our own three boys. I have never really felt as though I have lacked anything because my parents shared with me the gift of Jesus and taught me how to pursue a real relationship with Him. In fact, my life is more fulfilled because of Jesus!
Through my parents sharing with me the wonderful gift of Jesus, I had learned about true love and how to share that love with others. These are things that money can’t buy. Jesus is absolutely the best person I have in my life because He brings greater meaning to all other relationships around me. My marriage is healthier. My three sons honor the Lord, me and Janet, and others. Don’t get me wrong, our family most certainly has had and has issues, but our family walks in greater peace and love for one another because of Jesus. Friend, you just can’t put a price on peace! I attribute much of this to my parents offering me the gift of Jesus.
Now if you are one of those families that are able to buy a new car or another incredible gift for your graduate, by all means go for it. I have no problem with that. Just allow me to encourage you that the greatest gift is not lined with silver and can’t be bought with gold! Its not a high dollar amount written on a check or even the opportunity for the finest in higher education. No gift wrapped in shiny paper with pretty bows can compare to the greatest gift ever given to mankind. It is the gift of love given to this world through the person of Jesus Christ.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
When this great gift was given to this world, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and then the greatness of His love for us was demonstrated on an old rugged cross where He gave up His life for the forgiveness of our wrongdoing. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 NLT
Well, let me finish by saying if you are a parent of a graduate and you feel you have not done a good enough job of offering Jesus to your family, it is never to late. Begin today! If you are a part of the graduating classes of 2017 let me be one of the first to say “Congratulations!” Let me also encourage you to pursue Jesus, always loving God and loving others. This will cause you to live a life of significance no matter what path you choose to take in life. And hey, that’s better than a new car any day!
Scott Lee is a pastor with the Bethesda Worship Center.