Graduate 2019 / by Matthew McDill

As a graduate, you are standing on the verge of the rest of your life. Ahead are many choices to make and many battles to fight. Before you take a single step forward, I would like to encourage you to wrestle with one of the most crucial questions you will ever answer. To introduce this question to you, let’s recall a Bible story about Joshua. He had just taken command of the army of the Israelites as they finally prepared to enter the promised land. “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand.” (Joshua 5:13a)

It would have been disconcerting to encounter a man with a drawn sword in enemy territory! Naturally, Joshua wanted to know if this man was friend or foe. “And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.’” (Joshua 5:13b-14a)

Wait a minute. “No” is not really a good answer to an either-or question. This man’s answer reveals that Joshua was trapped in a false dichotomy. In his mind, there were only two sides: for or against Israel. But in fact, there was another army to take into consideration. This man with the drawn sword was the commander of the Lord’s army! If we read between the lines, there is an important counter-question for Joshua implied here: “Whose side are you on?”

I love this story because it helps us to see that we often think as Joshua did. When we try to make our life plans, we sometimes end up coming to the Lord with some options. “Lord, should I pursue A or B?” And then, to our surprise, he says, “No, I am in charge. Are you on my side? Will you follow my lead?”

So, this is the crucial question that I hope you will consider as you look ahead: “Will you follow God’s direction for your life or will you make your own plans?” In Philippians 3:13, Paul wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Just like Paul, Jesus has taken hold of your life for a reason. He has a purpose and mission for you. Will you choose your own agenda and plans or those that Christ has for you?

Just in case you are not sure, listen to the kinds of promises that God makes to those who choose to be on His side and follow His plan. The Lord said to Joshua: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you… No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life… I will be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you… You will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:3, 5, 8b)

Wow! With these kinds of promises, I don’t think I would go it alone. Even if you have already made some plans, this is a great time to take a step back and respond to the Lord as Joshua did. “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped and said to him, ‘What does my lord say to his servant?’” (Joshua 5:14b)

“But how will I know what God wants me to do?” you may be wondering. Here are a few basic principles to get you started:

  1. Read and study God’s Word.
  2. Seek God in prayer.
  3. Listen to the Holy Spirit.
  4. Observe the talents and gifts God has given to you.
  5. Observe God’s work in your circumstance.
  6. Listen to the counsel of your parents and godly, mature believers.

I pray that each of you will seek the Lord’s mission for your life and that you will press on to take hold of it. If you do, then you will enjoy the victory and success He promises!



Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, homeschool their nine children in Creston. Matthew is the new executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education and continues to serve as president of the board. Through his ministry, Truth to Freedom (, he teaches and writes about discipleship, marriage, family, parenting, home education, and church. Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in communication along with two master’s degrees and a doctorate in biblical studies.