-- A very personalized Bible. Select a nicely bound copy of God's Word, such as the NLT slim line leather or HCSB Study Bible. Some bookstores imprint the graduate's name on the cover while you wait. Prepare a list of influencers -- people who've made a significant Christian impact on the graduate's life, such as relatives, school staff, Sunday School teachers, church members, coaches, pastors, youth leaders, neighbors, parents, and so on. Ask each person to select and highlight a Scripture or passage for the graduate, signing their name and a short note in the margin. On a back page, create a handwritten index of friends with the Scripture and page numbers.
This can be a loving gift from parents, youth workers or an entire church. The personalized Scriptures will challenge the graduate to lean on God's Word for answers and encouragement, remind him or her of your faithful prayers, and even open doors for a Christian witness to others.
-- A Blessing Book. Purchase a beautiful blank journal book and a jar of rubber cement. Decorate the cover with these words: "Blessing Book for Blake Matheus -- Do not open until May 1, 2015." (Change the name, of course.)
Pass the book to all of the graduate's Christian influencers (see above), asking each to write a one-page note. It might include Christian encouragements, funny predictions, touching stories, prayers, distant promises, or mushy compliments, and conclude with a Scripture. The writer seals the right edge of his page with a thin line of rubber cement. Here's the unique twist: the graduate will not read the sealed notes until four years from now. Attach a note of explanation and tie it with a lovely ribbon for a great future blessing! We did a blessing book for our daughter's high school graduation. Four years later, just before completing college, she opened the messages. What an enormous encouragement for a young Christian!
Graduation represents a huge life accomplishment. A turning point. And a great opportunity to "encourage one another and build each other up" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Graduation Day is approaching. Encourage a graduate you love.
Diana Davis is author of "Fresh Ideas" (B&H Publishing) and wife of the North American Mission Board vice president for the Midwest region. Visit her website, www.keeponshining.com.
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