23 May 2011

The glory of graduation

"Not well traveled
not well read
Not well-to-do
or well bred

just want to hear instead:

well done good and faithful one."

- Nichole Nordeman, "Legacy"

This weekend I reach a long-sought goal: I graduated from seminary! I remember first entertaining the idea of seminary when I went to a month-long seminary "summer camp" type experience in 2003. 8 years later I'm filled with nostalgia as I look back on that summer and marvel at how God has lead me on this journey. I am blessed.

With Mom and Dad before the ceremony (nervous smile!)

After the ceremony: with my brother Wes and his girlfriend Kaitlin.

Me and my handsome husband John!

Our seminary president delivered the perfect address during the commencement exercises. He spoke about glory.


A seminary graduation is a strange event, glory-wise. After years of long lectures and late-night study sessions that so often result in very unglorious grumbling, stressful moments, and sometimes a frustrated tear or two, you suddenly dress up in a fancy robe and hood and put on that telling graduation cap and participate in a very dignified ceremony. After you've walked across the big stage and received a firm handshake and "congratulations" from the president people clap and cheer and even give you a standing ovation.

You get to hear about what an amazing thing you've done: you have your master's degree! You're a big deal.

Receiving my diploma and a "Congrats and God bless you" from the seminary president.

But it didn't really feel all that impressive when you were doing it. Mostly it felt normal, like you were just plugging along, completing one assignment after the next. Sometimes it got exiting and others times it got frustrating, but it really wasn't all that glorious.

In his address, the seminary president reminded us that it was in Christ's moment of weakness that he was glorified, that his death on a cross was his ultimate moment of victory. Jesus received glory, but he did not seek it. He sought faithfulness and glory was a by-product. He also reminded us that when Moses saw the glory of God, his face shone but he did not know it. "...he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD."- Exodus 34:29.

That was his prayer for us and now our prayer for ourselves: that we would not seek glory in our ministries, but faithfulness. That we would plug along in our tasks, receiving glory only as a by-product.

And that when our faces glow with glory, we would not know it.

It's nice to wear to wear a fancy robe and receive a standing ovation, but in the end what we really want is to hear these words from our master: "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful..."

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