Last night Sycamore Covenant Academy had a graduation ceremony with just one graduate. Below follows the charge called “Flying Straight & True” that I gave to Moriah Fisher based on our academy’s motto “Sicut Sagittae,” which means “Like Arrows.” This motto is taken from Psalm 127:4 which says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”
Moriah, just a few days ago I performed the marriage of your oldest sister. I told her and Brentt my message was just for the two of them. Tonight my focus is even narrower still, as this is only for you! Some might question having a graduation ceremony for just one student. But let us remember that arrows are shot only one at a time. When William Tell was forced to spare his life and that of his son’s by shooting the apple off the top of his son’s head, it just took one arrow to do the trick. Later, when the life of the Swiss people’s oppressor needed to be taken to deliver them, again it just took one arrow from Tell’s bow through the heart of his enemy. One arrow, properly placed, can change battles. Just ask King Ahab who went out to battle against Syria disguised but then a “certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel in a joint of the armor…and so the king died.” One arrow finding its target is a powerful weapon.
Tonight is far from a random arrow shot. It is significant. Al Mohler said recently, “High school graduates line up to receive their diplomas, marking one of the signal events of their lives as adolescence gives way to dawning adulthood.” Moriah Dawn, as you are taking a further step tonight from adolescence to your dawning adulthood, I want to charge you to fly straight and true. You see, calling you an arrow could give students the idea that they are controlled by outside factors. They could think, “Parents and teachers train me, shoot me out, and I just fly helplessly along.”
Yet one cannot push analogies too far. Moriah, just as an arrow has a head, so do you. Again, analogies cannot be pushed too far. I’m not implying your head is pointy like an arrow. But it is to lead you, Moriah. As your teacher and pastor for many years, I have can tell you that you have a wonderful mind that should direct that enthusiastic, bubbly personality and sweet, tender heart of yours. So fly straight and true. How? Well, just as an arrow often has three tail fins to keep it’s flight on aim, with your mind use these three means to keep your path true.
Remember from whose hands you have been sent. By this I mean your parents. They are the warriors who have shot you. Moriah, the Lord has given you model parents. Your mother was known as a “Mother Grizzly” long before it became popular, as her fierce protection and love for her children are well known. Your father is one of the most devoted, sacrificial fathers I know, who will do anything for his girls (even decorate at their weddings!). Graduation is not a time to forget them. Rather, you will find you need them more than ever. You do not need them to feed you as you did when you were eight months old. You do not need them to provide everything for you like when you were eight years old. But now that you are eighteen and going out into the world, you will need them as your counselors more than ever. In Proverbs 6, Solomon, speaking to his adolescent son dawning into adulthood, said:
My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light.
So strongly does Solomon emphasize this point that he nearly equates the place of parents’ words with Scripture for a young person! For a covenant child, there is good reason for this as the Scriptures have been used by your parents to train you all your life. You may not be in your parents’ hands as directly anymore, Moriah – indeed, the Lord may take you far away from them. But remember it is from their hands that you have been set in flight. Like a necklace, as you fly the course they have set wear their counsel wherever you go.
Then, continue on the path you are on. You have been aimed all your life, Moriah. You came here to Sycamore as a baby. I remember your family moving here then. Nearly eighteen years ago on December 12, 1993, I put my hands on your non-pointy little head and baptized you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He claimed you then as His and has been doing so ever since! Your parents, teachers, and pastors set Christ before you, His Spirit worked to internalize that claim, and you have responded back to God, “I am yours!” Stay on that heart path!
Miriam and I will give you what we gave your sisters before you, Charles’ Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. I was interested to see that the evening reading for May 26th is “Continue in the faith.” Spurgeon says:
The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts….Conquest has made you what you are, and conquest must sustain you.
Spurgeon then reminds his readers of the dangers we face as we travel the path Christ has set:
- The world won’t mind if you are a Christian for a time as long as you eventually give into temptation.
- Your own flesh will make you feel too weary at times to keep traveling.
- Interestingly, Spurgeon then says, “Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark of all his arrows.” The devil has arrows, also, Moriah. He will strive to hinder your service, make you question why you should be zealous for the Lord, and through college professors or work associates mock your doctrinal stands.
So Spurgeon urges us from the Word of God to “wear your shield, Christian” to extinguish those flaming missiles, then “cry mightily unto God, that by His Spirit you may endure to the end.” Continue on the path, Moriah.
Finally, speed to the target without fear. You are an arrow! A weapon. It’s almost humorous, isn’t it? Sweet, loveable, dare I say little Moriah is a weapon. Your target is the heart of those against Christ, as you are to “speak in the gates with your enemies.” One of my favorite places in Scripture is where when David goes out to Goliath and, after being taunted, we read that “when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” Moriah, run quickly to take every thought captive to Christ’s obedience, be it an employer who is cheating and wants you to join in, or a friend wandering from Christ, or a professor belittling God.
Listen for a minute to what one Christian student wrote to a leading atheist professor in our nation:
You said that we, as Creationists, assume that God exists. It is with this point that I will agree with you. Because of His work in my life, I look at the world with the presupposition that God does exist. But I want to point out that you are doing the same in your belief that God does not exist. In atheism and evolution God can’t exist. You look at life with that presupposition and refuse to look at it in any other way, which leads to inconsistencies such as the following. (Now here the student is going to take on the professor.)
…(For instance) You said that we believe in Intelligent Design because it gives us hope. But I think that in the same way atheists believe in evolution because it gives them hope too… (they) hope they can escape judgment… hope does affect how I see the world- in the same way that your hope affects how you see the world. Yet I would far rather have my hope in the Lord who loves me eternally than a vain hope of escaping accountability for my actions.”
The professor? Dr. William Provine of Cornell University. The student? Our own valedictorian this evening, Moriah Fisher, in a letter she wrote in an apologetics class assignment when she was just 16. Dr. Provine was so impressed by this letter and the others like it that he called the church and wrote back. Truly the psalmist says,“More than our teachers or the old Thy servant understands,” and that “from the mouths of infants young you the power of praise compose in the face of enemies to stop avenging foes!”
Let us not forget what it says about our Lord from this stanza from Psalm 45:
Thine arrows sharpened are,
Men under Thee to bring,
To pierce the heart of enemies
Who fight against the King.
Moriah, you are such an arrow. Do not fear, but run to the battle. Fly straight & true to the target!