In reality they’re mileposts in our lives.

This past Friday night my wife and I had the opportunity to go back to our hometown to attend her nephew’s high school graduation. The town itself is pretty much the same as it was when we graduated, but the school now has a beautiful, 1,000+ seat sports arena which is state-of-the-art.

I still remember ours being held in the old gymnasium, which had been there at least a zillion years (or so it seemed). I also still remember it was pretty hot in there the night of our graduation because there was no air-conditioning and the place was packed.

So, in many ways, watching the Class of 2017 walk across the stage and receive their diplomas was a trip back in time. I still remember the purple caps and gowns. I still remember reading our class prophecy and singing our class song (which they didn’t do at this graduation). And, I still remember hugging everyone and saying “Stay in touch!” as we went our separate ways.

Some of us did; the majority didn’t.

And, I’m sure, in many ways, this year’s graduating class will be the same way. Some will continue calling, texting and emailing back-and-forth, while others will be gone and never heard from again.

That’s why I hope this class (and all others) will cherish their memories and give thanks for those years they shared together. I also hope they’ll realize the importance of making new memories wherever they go—for, all too soon they’ll reach another milestone and another and another. And, like our class of ’71, later on they’ll wish they’d taken a little more time to “stop and smell the roses”…hugged a few more necks…said a few more “Thank-you’s”…instead of always being in a hurry to reach new goals, set new records, visit new places, etc.

But, such is the nature of hindsight. As someone said, “It’s always 20-20.” And, sadly, too often filled with some regrets.

Maybe it’s because I’m afflicted with “advancing maturity”—which is sometimes called “getting old”—that I’m becoming more nostalgic. I guess I’m becoming one of those folks I used to look at when I was a senior in high school and say “Man, they’re OLD!” In fact, that’s exactly what I thought when our class celebrated its 40th anniversary six years ago by sitting on a float in the homecoming parade, throwing candy to the spectators along the way.

Thankfully, I’ve found the “secret” of getting old.

Just keep breathing. You’ll get there.

But, the difference is that you don’t have to feel “old.” Instead, by keeping your mind and body active you can lessen the impact and pack more life into your years. That’s why I still buy and read a lot of books. I also work out 3-4 times each week to stay in halfway decent shape, even though I’m still afflicted with “furniture disease.”

You do know what that is, don’t you?

It’s where “your chest has fallen down into your drawers.” ‘Nuff said on that.

In reality, life’s full of milestones that remind us from whence we’ve come. They also remind us of significant events in our lives that helped make us into who we are. But, it’s up to us on whether or not we look back on them with gratitude or regret.

I choose to look back with thanksgiving: thanksgiving to Almighty God for having guided me in this Journey. And, thanksgiving for the many, many people who’ve touched my life in various ways.

Some people say “I was lucky” when referring to the past. I choose to say “I’ve been blessed,” because that’s exactly how I see it and know it to be true.

So, to all of the Classes of 2017, I say “Congratulations! Give thanks for your past. Look forward to your future. And, always, always, put the Lord first in all you think, say and do—for THAT is ‘The Secret of Success’ (Matthew 6:33). God bless you!”

NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at