Baccalaureate message; Heart Strings

Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Photos by Pam Dudding-Burch
Participants of the Craig County Graduation Seniors Baccalaureate service.

As the melodic procession music started, Craig County High School Seniors walked the aisles of the auditorium for their ‘almost’ last time. The quote on the front of the bulletin read: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of Our Lord.”

On Sunday, May 21, the Baccalaureate service was held for the 2017 senior class. The Rocket ‘blue and white’ caps and gowns reminded alumni who were present of their memory walks as well.

Gary Burch, Minister of Craig County Community Church and Crossroads Church, gave the invocation and Senior Class President Olivia Garman presided the event. Kevin Altizer, Pastor of First Baptist Church, addressed the seniors with his message on, ‘Heart Strings’.

“Some of you felt like this day would never come … and some of you weren’t even sure you would make it,” Altizer said as many laughed. He continued by sharing with the seniors that they had a vital importance in the community, wherever they would decide to reside. “We need you!” he exclaimed.

He encouraged them to strive to ‘live life right’, make wise decisions and mentor those who follow. “You touch the ‘heart strings’ of so many others around you, ” Altizer emphasized. “Do all you can do to keep a guard on your ‘heart strings’, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4).”

He shared with them to be cautious about the negative feelings that can cause their ‘heart strings’ to harbor bitterness, anger or depression which can create internal damage. “Some of you may have a little brother or a sister, or family member that really gets on your nerves. But remember that God blessed us with them,” he said with a grin.

Altizer added that even the medical field has proven that the heart has ‘strings’, such as tendons that can sometimes actually break after an emotional experience. That means someone can truly have a broken heart.

Olivia Garman, Senior Class President, presenting roses to her family.

“Always start your day off reading the Word,” he emphasized. “Keep them in the midst of your heart.” He added that each of them were on their way into the world to start making more demanding decisions on their own. “You may face trials and tragedies in the days to come but don’t let that defeat you,” he said. “Guard your heart because God has a plan for each one of you and he wants to use you, so don’t break your own ‘heart strings’.”

Intently, Altizer shared the importance of the one thing that can make or break ‘heart strings’ of others, their tongue. He even possibly hit home with some of the students when he mentioned that maybe some of their ‘heart strings’ had been damaged by words spoken over them, such as; ‘you’re stupid’ or ‘you can’t do anything right’. “You choose to say the greatest words ever spoken,” Altizer said as he looked at each of them. “I’m sorry.”

As he went through examples of how everyone can make mistakes, whether intentionally or not, the nods of heads by the students made it obvious he had their attention. Altizer even addressed the audience, speaking to the ones who may need to ‘say I’m sorry’ to their child.

“Accept it and forgive them!” he said as he smiled with a tilt in his head. Many eyes seem to meet his. “Help to repair those ‘heart strings’!” He added the scripture in Proverbs 16, that ‘Pride goes before a fall’. “Keep your eyes fixed, because spiritual discernment will spare you a lot of broken ‘heart strings’.”

Altizer also encouraged them to be wise, ponder their paths before they take them and protect themselves from getting wounded by not taking in other people’s offenses. “Remember that your parents aren’t perfect either so forgive them and your friends without even being asked which will guard your own ‘heart strings’,” he said.

“In the middle of the word ‘life’ are two little letters, ‘IF’,” Altizer shared with them, emphasizing that the near future will be bringing them a lot of decisions that no one else will be able to make for them, but will determine the livelihood of their own ‘heart strings’. “God tells us that a blessing or a curse is set before us in the way we make decisions for ourselves.” He added the Bible says that Christ is the way, the truth and the life for their ‘heart strings’ and that obedience to the Word keeps their ‘heart strings’ healed.

He added that the Bible says that we can be thankful to God, as he gives us the victory, so FIGHT addictions or wrong relationships. Altizer became more intent as he met their eyes several times, encouraging them to always fight against the wrong that tries to destroy their ‘heart strings’. “I don’t think I ever played a sport where I decided to lose,” he said. “Life and victory comes through Christ, so fight for it.”

He emphasized that it was God who put the ‘strings’ in their hearts, so to make them work fully, love Him with all their hearts.

“Your teachers don’t work their job for the money, they want to serve you. Altizer shared. He added for them to respect and have a love for others and be willing to serve and by that, they would keep their ‘heart strings’ healthy and happy.

Following Altizer’s message, the graduating seniors individually took beautiful white roses to their parents and loved ones, giving them hugs and thanks for all their years of support. Tears were shared as well as big pats on the backs and ‘granny’ bear hugs.

Burch gave the Benediction, reflecting on the words of Pastor Altizer’s words. “This reminded me of instruments and what they sound like when you pluck the strings,” he shared. “Lord, help to keep us in tune.”

All stood as the Seniors took their ‘last walk’ down the aisles of Craig County High School auditorium. Smiles, pats and a few tears met the eyes of many as they passed by, as well as a few ‘high fives’.

The long hugs and happy tears and chatter in the foyer set the atmosphere of celebration. “I can’t believe this is it!” several Seniors chimed. “I’m going to miss all of y’all!” It seemed that some weren’t going to let go of one another, as it was becoming real, that their ‘heart strings’ were coming upon the beginning of a new chapter of life in the outside world, where the ‘if’ in life was going to meet them daily.

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