GUEST POST: Seven Steps for Seniors June 19, 2023

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Each year thousands of High School students graduate and begin to take the next step on their journey. I always enjoy speaking to graduating seniors about the will of God for their life. This year, my friend Mark Fizer, spoke at the Victory Baptist Academy graduation, in Beaver, WV. The address that he gave, was one of the finest commencement addresses I have heard for young people. Our own son, Grant, and his classmates were challenged and encouraged by the truth that was shared. Mr. Fizer taught at the academy for 14 years before entering law school. He now serves as general counsel for First Property Solutions LLC. With his permission, we are sharing the full text of his message. I hope it will be a great encouragement to you and others you may know. – SP

 

Steps: A Charge to the Graduating Class of 2023

Steps are simple things. You likely take thousands of them a day. The idea of a step being a symbol of great accomplishment is quite common. “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” (Neil Armstrong). President Lyndon B. Johnson used a step as an indication of a direction for life when he said, “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles, and it must be taken one step at a time.” Others have used a step to signify a great undertaking. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (Lao Tzu). For those of you that prefer the more whimsical view of steps, consider Dr. Seuss’s exhortation to “Step with care and great tact and remember that life’s a great balancing act.

In a few moments, you will receive your diploma. Though it will only take you several steps to walk across this platform, those steps represent a great accomplishment in your life. You have many more steps to take, and the steps you take as you move on from here come with greater consequences. The future choices you make will become harder and carry heavier weight.

You have probably realized this as you walked through your senior year. In years past, people would ask you what you were going to do for the summer or if you were going to camp. This past year you have been riddled with questions like, “Where are you going to college? What’s your major going to be? What career path are you going to pursue?” You all probably have that one crazy uncle that asks something like, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?”

You get asked these questions and think, “How am I supposed to know?” Maybe some of you do have an idea. Some of you already have a picture of what God is leading you to do and what you want your life to be. You may want to build a business or perhaps join Elon Musk and put a settlement on Mars. Some of you are probably thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do for a career, but I know I want a strong family and a home that is a place of peace.” It is great that you have an idea of what you want your future to look like, but how do you get there? Some of you are probably sitting here thinking you have no idea how to answer those questions, and that’s OK.

I would like to help you with those questions by telling you some things that I wish I had understood about the steps of life when I sat where you are sitting now.

1. “Right steps lead the right way.” – Dave Young

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

This verse gives us a glimpse into the nature of man. It is natural for us to think about the way we are going, but God is trying to guide our next step. When I was I teenager, I had a very hazy concept of God’s will. I always thought of it in future terms. God’s will was something I would understand in five years or obtain in ten years. It wasn’t until I was an adult, and I heard Dave Young teach the principle that the right steps lead the right way that my understanding of God’s will started to become clear. It was really brought into focus when I heard Scott Pauley speaking to a group of young people. I don’t know if any of them grasped what he was saying but it helped me tremendously. He said, “God’s will is always present.

When I put those two statements together, I realized God’s will does not have to be some obscure concept. In fact, I can tell you God’s will for your life right now. I Corinthians 14:40 states, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Clean your room. That is God’s will for you according to that verse. There is no exception for teenagers or those that say they are just messy people. Many of you are going on to college. God’s will for you is to do your assignments and be the best student you be. Some of you may have thoughts of being wealthy at some point in life, but the last 10-dollar bill you got is crumpled up somewhere under your bed with your dirty socks. God’s will for you is to
take care of your stuff. You may say, “But I’m driving a 25-year-old Toyota Corolla.” God’s will for you is to be a good steward of what you have and take care of it.

You see, it really is not that complicated. When you understand that God’s will is always present, and you strive to take the right step today and the next day, five years from now you will be where God wants you to be. The right steps lead the right way.

2. Take steps to draw nigh to God.

Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” – James 4:8

You are going to be gaining more independence as you take the next steps in your life. Some of you will be moving out of your parent’s homes soon. Some will be leaving home to go to school. Your life is only going to get busier. You are going to be pulled in a hundred different directions. Life as an adult, which you all are now, can be hectic. One day you will come to yourself and realize it has been a week since you opened your Bible or a month since you took time to really pray.

Be intentional about these steps. Plan to read your Bible. Purpose in your heart to find a good church. Take the step of seeking a community that encourages you to draw nigh to God. Spend time in private prayer. It is very easy to get miles down the road of life and realize you haven’t grown any closer to God. Take steps to draw nigh to God.

3. Take steps that scare you.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:” – Genesis 12:1

I believe that familiarity with Scripture can cause you to forget that these Bible characters were simply people that had feelings just like you and me. I am confident that when God called Abraham to leave Ur without telling him where he was going, Abraham felt some fear. That was the only home he had ever known. I imagine he got to a point where he said something like Samwise Gamgee. “If I take one more step, it will be the furthest away from home that I have ever been.” I’m sure he was afraid. Think of Peter getting ready to step out onto the water or David running out to face Goliath. These characters that accomplished great things were probably afraid to take the very step for which they have been recorded in Scripture to provide us an example of how God can work.

Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there.” You’re going to face steps in your life that scare you. Get married. Start a family. Apply for that job that you don’t feel ready for. Start a business. Volunteer for that ministry. Move to that new place. Take steps that scare you, because it is in those steps that you will see the power of God.

4. When you stumble, get back up.

For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again.” – Proverbs 24:16

Have you ever been around a toddler that is learning to walk? It is incredibly entertaining as they take a few steps, then plop down on their diapers. Their steps are awkward and wobbly. When they stumble, everyone around encourages them and helps them back up.

You are not going to have to walk very far down the road of life before you find out that you too are just a person. You will sin even though you know better. You will fail in your efforts to reach your goals. Your rocket may blow up in your attempt to get to Mars. Unfortunately, you will not find the same type of encouragement when you stumble as an adult. Our culture struggles with extending grace to those that fail in one way or another. At some point, you will find yourself down in the dirt, and instead of seeing a hand ready to help you up, you will be surrounded by Job’s friends pointing out why you deserve to be there. When you stumble, your next step is simply to get back up. Repent of that sin and stand back up. Learn from your failure and get back up.

5. Sometimes the next step is to be still.

Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

This is a step that requires great discernment. You are going to go through seasons where you feel overwhelmed. You will have way too much to do and not enough time to do it. Life will seem crazy. Purposefully take the step of being still. This is going to be very hard for you to do. It is especially difficult for those of you who are the type A personalities that feel like you have to be constantly doing something or you’re falling behind. You need to understand that being still is not the same as doing nothing. Being still is taking a season, a weekend, or maybe just ten minutes to stop what you are doing and look for what God is trying to accomplish. Look back on what He has brought you through. Recall the times He has delivered you and the victories you have won. Think about the desires God has put on your heart and the goals that you have set. Take a moment to be still.

This is a Scriptural principle that is hard for us to understand. If we could write it, we would say, “Be busy and know God.” But God tells us to be still. It is in that stillness that we come to know God is who He says He is. Sometimes your next step is to be still. Take it, then get back to the tasks you have before you.

6. Be grateful for every step.

In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – I
Thessalonians 5:18

I remember the first time I was thankful for my feet. I was visiting my grandfather in the hospital. It was the last time I would see him alive. He was diabetic, and if he had lived much longer, he would have needed his feet amputated. As I sat next to him and saw his swollen, discolored feet, for the first time in my life, I thanked God for my feet.

Just like my feet, steps are things we often take for granted. Your life will be filled with steps. Some small and trivial; some big and terrifying. Some steps will be joyful while others will bring heartache. Don’t forget to be grateful for your steps. Each one is a gift. Enjoy the good steps and be grateful for the blessings of life. When the steps are difficult, be grateful for the opportunity to grow and see God work. Be grateful for the opportunity to experience heartache because that means you have things and people in your life that you care about.

When you think about who you want to be, I doubt any of you have a goal of being miserable. You are not thinking, “I really hope I can just be bitter and spiteful when I get older.” No one has that as their goal in life, but you are likely going to meet some people that make you think that is their goal. I can promise you this: you will never find someone who is both grateful and miserable. Be grateful for every step.

7. When you feel like quitting, take one more step.

As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Deuteronomy 33:25

Today is a day of celebration. It is a great day in your life. Understand that there are going to be times when life is very hard for you. You are going to experience pain. You will finally start that business you’ve always wanted, and it will struggle. You will be faithfully serving in ministry, and someone will break your heart. You will finish your workday but won’t want to go home, because there is tension in your house. You and your spouse will fight, or your kids will wear you down and you’ll think, “I just can’t do it anymore! I can’t do this for another five years!”

In this passage, God promised to give Israel strength for the day. God is not going to give you the strength you need for the next five years today. When you are discouraged, rely on God to get you through that day. Determine not to quit that day. When you get to tomorrow, do it again. Then do it again and again. Do that enough times, and you will have made it five years down the road. Then you will be able to look back without the regret of quitting. You will be able to see how God gave you the grace you needed to make it through five years’ worth of days. When you feel like quitting, take one more step.

Remember, the right steps lead the right way. Take steps to draw nigh to God. Take steps that scare you. When you stumble, get back up. Sometimes the next step is to be still. Be grateful for every step, and when you feel like quitting, take one more step. Let the Lord direct your steps.

– Mark Fizer

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3 Comments

  1. Tamela Skaggs on June 19, 2023 at 9:15 PM

    Mark Fizer is a good man and a gifted speaker. That was a blessing.

  2. David on June 20, 2023 at 6:52 PM

    Beautiful, Mark!

  3. Delbert Hawley on June 22, 2023 at 10:37 AM

    It sounds like something Scott Pauley would write because it is an excellent message. Wonderful advice!

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