This year is the thirtieth anniversary of my graduation from high school. Crazy. I graduated in 1981 from Western Christian College. We had a great class. Next month I’ll attend the reunion of that class. Makes you think.

Truthfully, though, I couldn’t wait to graduate. I was just so ready to get on with it. I had big plans, beginning with Bible College and a mission trip. I had my life ahead of me. I truly loved the Lord, and I wanted to do great things with Him. I wanted my life to be, well, different. Different from what, I’m not sure I knew. But I know I felt a stirring within me to get out in the world and really live.

The thing is, thirty years later it’s still the same. Well, some things, ahem, have changed. But that stirring, that feeling of wanting to make a difference, of wanting to really live … it’s still there. It is maybe even stronger, or at least more urgent. At almost fifty years old, my life doesn’t stretch endlessly ahead of me like it did when I was seventeen. I’ve been to a lot of funerals since I graduated.

I’ve been looking at graduation gifts for my niece. Did you know that Jeremiah 29:11 can be found on almost anything now, from bookmarks to shirts to pendants to Bible covers? This verse is marketed to graduates, but I want to reclaim if for the class of  ’81.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Because the thing is, this promise was given to a people who were well into their journey. These were not fresh-faced babes just starting out, with all kinds of opportunities ahead of them. God promised this to a people who were in the midst of hard times. We’re talking seventy years of hard times. Captivity. Slavery.

So, while I love the sense of anticipation of Jeremiah 29:11, it’s the following verses that really speak to me. Because life has sometimes been difficult. I haven’t done all the things I wanted to do. I’ve made some mistakes, some poor choices. So these verses, to me, hold a mid-journey encouragement:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.

He’s still there. And His plan is still His plan. And, even thirty years in, I still have a hope and a future. He is my hope and my future.