A Whisper in a Moment
A Whisper in a Moment
Dr. David F. Ingrassia // 06.06.2016 // Charlotte Awake
There are times when the solitary voice of a young person can pierce the cacophonous wisdom of the generations as a whisper placed at the right moment can silence a room. And so it was on Friday evening, May 27th, when graduating senior, Ashley Michalak, walked silently to the podium in front of the packed crowd at Metrolina Christian Academy. After her introduction, Ashley thanked those at Metrolina Christian Academy whose voices guided her and fellow students throughout their school years. What follows is her whisper that froze time…
Speaking of voices, it’s interesting to think about just how many of them we hear per day. We may hear over a hundred: when we turn on the radio or the TV, we hear the announcer or a song or a commercial or a show. When we go to school, we may hear teachers, friends, or chapel speakers. We hear our parents, we hear our peers, we hear the media, we hear celebrities and politicians and actors and pastors and other public figures who like to talk.
When we leave here, whether we’ll go off to college or enter the workforce or do something else, we’ll hear a slightly altered set of voices. We’ll still hear newscasters, we’ll still hear our favorite characters on our favorite TV shows, we’ll still listen to our favorite artists, but we will no longer hear our parents, at least not every day. We won’t hear our teachers, whom we’ve been hearing for the past thirteen years, and, statistically, most of us won’t hear our pastors anymore, either.
What we will be hearing are lectures by our professors, jokes (and, most likely, some sarcastic side comments) from our friends, and, over all, the voice of culture, telling us exactly what we should be doing and experiencing as a young American adult.
I say all of this because, in the next few years, we’re going to hear a lot of new, amplified voices being thrown at us, and each will have a message it will try to get us to believe.
The question is, which voices will we listen to? Words and ideas, crafted and ordered in just the right way at the right time, can hold a powerful sway over our emotions, especially when we’re not paying attention to what those words are actually saying or where they’re coming from.
What we have to realize as high school graduates is that there is a battle going on right now, in both the spiritual and physical realms, and that battle is for our minds, it is for our hearts, and it is for our allegiances. Because the enemy and the world know that a nation’s youth controls its destiny.
Guys, we have more influence right now than we can comprehend. With the way our society is today, teenagers and young adults have become the national voice, and it’s a voice that people listen to. But, to borrow that famous Spiderman quote that everyone is familiar with, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Our culture loves to focus on the cool and the new and the innovative, and unfortunately, this means that the opinions and values of the older, more experienced members of our society are being labeled as obsolete, and as a result, our country’s foundation is quickly being eroded.
Because of this, it’s up to us to be the voice of change while we’re still young and relevant enough to be listened to. It’s harsh, but it’s reality. In turn, the voices we listen to and the things we approve will set a precedent for the future, and whether or not that precedent will be positive rests on us.
THE TRUTH IS SCARY
If you’re like me, this truth is more than a little scary, and for our parents, this truth is probably terrifying. You may be thinking, “I’ve never been responsible for the destiny of anything, ever, and I don’t think I should be.” Well, the great thing about being a Christian is that we never have to do anything all by ourselves. When we go off on our own to college, we may take classes on how to be a surgeon or a designer or lawyer, but the most important thing we can ever learn iswhat God’s voice sounds like.
LEARN TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE
In fact, if you forget everything else I’ve said so far, I don’t care (well, I kind of do, but there’s not much I can do about it) just remember this: Learn to hear God’s voice. I’ll say it again: Learn to hear and recognize God’s voice. We can only discern which voices we should and shouldn’t listen to if we are in a communal relationship with God and the Holy Spirit (which is God’s voice inside us).
It makes sense, really: If we’re constantly having to test the messages we’re hearing, we should compare them to the Ultimate Standard, and if we’re really in a battle for our minds, we need to gear up, and the best weapon we could possibly have is God himself living in us, and the ability to hear Him speaking to us.
I don’t know about you, but that concept still blows my mind. The fact that we can communicate with the God of the Universe, who made everything there is and ever was, and the fact that he actually wants to speak to us and wants us to know His voice is too amazing.
David conveyed this sentiment in Psalm 8 when he said, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” And yet, He does care about us, and He wants us to listen to him as our Father in the same way we have listened to our own parents for all these years.
Our parents have helped us mature and grow as people in society, teaching us how to survive and whom we should trust, and God will give us the same kind of guidance if we are listening for it. In Colossians, Paul says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
Without the Holy Spirit’s discernment, we can quickly fall prey to all of the voices that compete for our attention and approval, especially when we are isolated from our Christian bubble, as we will all be soon.
But, if we are obedient and attentive and purposeful about seeking God’s presence and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit, not only will we have a supernatural awareness of the true nature behind all of the messages we’re going to hear, we will also be given wisdom and boldness as we go into the world, so that, through us, God can effect the change it so desperately needs.
YOUNG PEOPLE OF INTEGRITY
What our nation and our society need right now are people our age who don’t blindly regurgitate the artificial morality culture has been cramming down our throats. If we want to make a difference and set a positive precedent for the future of our world, we’re going to have to be young men and women of integrity who know the voice of God, who act on and live according to His words, who know and broadcast the truth.
The enemy will try its absolute hardest to conform us and make us numb, to get us to sit down and shut up and watch passively from the sidelines as the people around us slip further into darkness, and because we’re human, our tendency will be to do just that, because we like to take the path of least resistance. But I’m telling you: don’t do it.
If we learn to listen to God’s voice and live according to His principles, He will use us in ways that we could never imagine. Class of 2016, we have a voice. What we broadcast with it is up to us, but the message we allow to influence us will be the message that goes out. Let’s not waste the window of opportunity that we have to impact the world around us for the glory of God.
To use Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
You guys really are my brothers and sisters, and it’s bittersweet for me to look back at this long journey we’ve been on together, knowing that this is the last time we’ll all be in the same place. But it really is true (and I know this is really cliché, but, please, let me say it anyway) that all of our journeys are just beginning, and I can’t wait to see what God does with them. I love you guys, and I’ve got to say it at least once, so I’ll go ahead and say, Congrats! We made it!
[©2016 Ashley Michalak / Copy or forward with this copyright information.]
Thank you, Ashley, for the permission to reprint your graduation speech!