Graduates of Fulton County, I bet you wondered if this day would ever come. We celebrate your accomplishments. We are very proud of you. You've worked hard. Well done.
In just a few words, I would like to talk about the future. Your personal future. Have you ever heard the popular expression: "God helps those who help themselves." Although we may not find it written in the Bible, we might recognize some truth in that statement. Instead of waiting for God to open a path and act on our behalf, we move forward asking God to help us as we go. But crucially, God helps those who help others. In fact, he helps them help others.
You see, God gave each of us a mission in life, a calling. Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created us in his image. This means two things: first, that we should seek a relationship with him, and second, that we should represent his interests on earth. We are his "reach" into this world.
Harvard University professor G. E. Wright once said, "God works in this world through people. He has his people, whether they know it or not, who serve as his agents, doing what is appropriate for the immediate need."
But Wright continues, "Our problem is to know and do what we are called to do. But by failure of mind and will, we seldom get our duty straight or do what we know we should."
So, how can you find your unique mission and calling?
At home and in school you have found some things to be interesting, even exciting, but not other things. Life is like that. Some things will attract you. Others will not. But those attractions can become desires. And those desires can set the course for your entire life. They can, and probably will, determine your calling.
To understand this mysterious process better, let's consider Ray Tomlinson, a Fulton County graduate whose name you might even recognize. You will certainly recognize some of his accomplishments. You see, Ray Tomlinson who grew up in Vail Mills, New York, invented email and the technology for texting. Every time we send an email or a text, we benefit from Ray's work. But what you may not know is that although Ray helped the world, he had great fun doing it. He did it because an attraction (science), became a desire (scientific discovery and inventing) that set the course of his life. And what Ray enjoyed inventing helps the entire world to communicate better.
Ray changed the world by helping us connect through technology. But note that he did so by making his dreams and desires fit the needs of others. And that, Fulton County graduates of 2014, is profoundly brilliant. You can spend all your life trying to get the world around you to accept your dreams and desires; or you can spend a little time during the early years of your life matching your desires to the needs of others. You can change the world by helping others. And you can enjoy your life's work, as well.
So, remember your past, celebrate your present and prepare for your future. Remember the family that raised you, the school that trained and shaped you and gave you dreams and desires. But also remember the God that created you in his image to do something to help others. You can be the help of God in this world. God will help you. Who will you help?
The Rev. Dave Deuel preaches at West Galway Presbyterian Church.