Katie Nolte, Class of '14
Well, it's a pleasure to be speaking to you tonight. I'm going to start by telling you a little bit about our class.
For those of you who do not know the class of 2014 as a whole, there are three things that really define us. The first is, we like to follow. If someone has an idea, anywhere, at any time, we all go along with it. Which is why we ended up in the shady part of Washington D.C. trying to find a yogurt place, or why when a person says, "one clap of appreciation!" everyone drops what they're doing and claps.
The second thing that defines us is our nickname: the Quaker class. Mrs. Patton and Ms. Preusser, our homeroom teachers, gave us this nickname, because if we walk into a room and there's no seating assignment, the guys will always go to one side of the room, and the girls will always go to the other side. It's not that we don't get along; that's just how it's been since freshman year.
The third thing that defines the class of 2014 is our motto: We Roam with Purpose. If you found one of us out in the hall when we were supposed to be in class, we would always have an excuse, even if it was only "I'm roaming with purpose." That gives you a taste of our group dynamics.
So on Wednesday night, my grandparents came in, and as Grandma and I were talking about graduation and college and this speech, she said to me, "Well Katie, this is the end of one era and the beginning of the next." And that is so true. College is going to be quite different from high school. New challenges, new people, new deadlines, bad food are all going to hit us in a couple months. Whether we're eighteen or not, we're adults now.
So as adults, what is our purpose? In other words, what should our goal in life be? Most people would say it's having enough money to live out retirement in peace and happiness. Others would hold that purpose lies in charity work and living your life for others. Some would say the goal of life is to be able to do whatever you want. Not all of these ideals are wrong, but they are not in themselves ultimately fulfilling.
So what is our purpose? Well, God gave us the answer through a man named Solomon. Solomon was the richest, smartest, most powerful person who has ever walked the face of the earth. And because he was the richest, smartest, most powerful person to walk the face of the earth, he was the ideal individual to try to discover the meaning of life.
First, he looked for purpose in riches; he amassed innumerable amounts of money and bought everything his heart desired: fountains, palaces, cattle, servants. But he didn't find it there. He searched for purpose in knowledge. He studied and studied and tried to learn as much as he could. 1Kings 4:30 says his knowledge surpassed all the wisdom of all the men of the East and of Egypt, the most advanced nations in the world at that time. His conclusion? It was striving after the wind.
He looked for meaning in relationships; he had 700 wives; 300 concubines, and was allied to most of the known world. That didn't satisfy him. He worked really hard; he made a name for himself; he hired a lot of servants so he could live out his really nice retirement plan. But this did not fulfill him. Ecclesiastes records that Solomon tried about eight other methods in finding purpose. All of them left him empty.
So, at the end of his life, after he had looked everywhere to find the purpose of life, this is what Solomon concluded in Ecclesiastes 12:13, "The end of the matter, all has been heard: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." This is the answer to having a meaningful, purposeful life. Fear God and keep His commandments.
So what does it mean to fear God and keep His commandments? Well, fear is another word for 'honor' or 'give reverence to,' so we are to honor God. And in order to honor God, we are to obey His commandments, which are found in the Word of God, the Bible.
But we cannot honor God and obey His Word on our own. We are fallen, sinful creatures who cannot keep God's law to His standard. His standard is 'Be perfect as I am perfect.' But we can't be; Romans 3:23 says "all have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God." That's why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth. He kept God's law perfectly. He died on the cross, took our sin on Himself and gave us His righteousness so that by turning away from our sins and turning to Christ by faith, we might be able to honor God and obey His commandments. Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can live a life of meaning.
So class of 2014, my challenge to you as we leave here tonight is: don't roam with purpose, but pursue the One who gives you purpose.