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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Grads and the Three Little Pigs

                         "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,
                           but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love,
                           in faith and in purity."    - 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

A few days ago, I had the blessed opportunity to attend  my son's high school baccalaureate service. As legal challenges on school-sanctioned religious activities  (like prayers before sporting events, inclusion of the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance ) continue to mount, it was reassuring that our local school district is still keeping the baccalaureate service tradition alive.

It was a little sad to note, though, the reality of where faith is in today's young people's lives. Out of  200+ graduating seniors, only about thirty showed up. Nevertheless, it was heartwarming to see the students who actually took the time to participate in this religious service, dressed in their Sunday best, their gowns and stoles looking freshly pressed. The kids ran the show, setting up the event, emceeing and providing entertainment with gospel singings. All three guest speakers gave inspiring words but the sermon from Pastor Scott Shaw probably left the most lasting impression on the audience. Wanting to impart wisdom and encouragement to the young grads, he took out from his pocket a book that is an all-time classic: The Three Little Pigs.

As the story goes, the Mother Pig sends off the Three Little Pigs, believing that they are now old enough to be building their own houses and living on their own. It didn't take long for the First Little Pig to build his house of straws. It took a bit longer for the Second Little Pig to finish his house of sticks. But the Third Little Pig took the longest time building his house of stone, carefully laying one brick at a time, making sure that his house of stone is strong and has a solid foundation. Then came the hungry Big Bad Wolf who wanted the little pigs for lunch. He huffed and puffed and easily blew the houses of straw and sticks down but the two Little Pigs managed to escape to safety in the Third Little Pig's house of stone. The Big Bad Wolf wanted to come in and threatened to huff and puff and blow the house of stone in. The Three Little Pigs said, "No, no, not by hair of my chinny chin chin." But as hard as the Big Bad Wolf huffed and puffed, he could not blow the house in. The Third Little Pig had the foresight and figured out that the Big bad Wolf would try to get into the house through the chimney. He put on the fire in the fireplace and set a kettle with boiling water. Sure enough the Big Bad Wolf slid down the chimney-straight into the hot pot and shoot himself out of the chimney and was never heard from again.

Who would have thought of looking at life through the snouts of a Mother Pig and the Three Little Pigs and the antics of a Big Bad Wolf?

Pastor Shaw had hoped that our young grads would be willing to work hard, invest their time and effort in building a future with strong foundation that can withstand the test of time. I would like to take it a bit farther.

When the graduation ceremony is over, these young men and women will go out into the adult world and find their own niche in the sun. My hope is that they would be stepping out armed with wisdoms, values and ethics shaped by the Mother Pigs or Father Pigs in their lives. Everybody deserves to have at least one Mother/Father Pig in his/her life. A parent or a mentor, a teacher or a coach, a pastor or a big brother or a big sister. A Mother/Father Pig who would teach the young ones common sense, how to live  a righteous life, to know right from wrong, to be independent and be street-smart. A Mother/Father Pig who would teach them how to be responsible and how to balance work and fun. A Mother/Father Pig who had allowed them to make mistakes on their own and learn from them. A Mother/Father Pig who would impart as much knowledge to them then be willing to let them go, trusting that they will have the sense and courage to work hard and build themselves sturdy houses and live happy lives.

Unfortunately, they will also meet some Big Bad Wolves along the way who would try to take advantage of their youth and inexperience. They come in many forms. They could come as bad as the affable swindler Bernie Madoff  or as an innocent-looking girl or boy with a laptop at Starbucks stealing identities. Or they could be a co-worker selling bogus timeshares or a roommate stealing their stuff. My hope is that our young grads will know how to trust strangers cautiously, to decide with their heads  so they do not get taken for a ride or lose their lunch.

They will also have the presence of many Little Pigs who will orbit their social lives. My hope is that they will be wise enough to choose those who will be positive influences in their lives. My hope is that they would stay away from pig slobs who are always taking the easy route, building a house of straw then be content in playing in the mud all day. Or those who always take the  "this will do for now" attitude, giving only half-hearted efforts in their endeavors and not accomplishing much in life. With ardent hope, may many of our grads be smart enough to surround themselves with forward-thinkers and  hard workers and those who take pride in their work. Those people who wouldn't mind building their dreams, brick by brick, sweating it out, making sure that their efforts are not easily knocked off by the slightest missteps and mistakes.

Someday, our young grads might meet people who will try to discourage or dissuade them from pursuing their goals, people who will tell them, "you can't do that", or "you shouldn't do that". Or they might encounter impossible situations or stumbling blocks to their plans. These would be the time to be stronger, be more focused, be more determined and not let anybody take away your dreams. Then just let out that rallying cry, "No, no, not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.

God speed, Grads!

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