Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Diplomas mean many things--different things to different people. For the teenaged boy from a small town, a diploma may symbolize the freedom to explore dreams for the future. For the middle-aged housewife, a diploma may be a symbol of perseverance in spite of distractions and obstacles. For the academic acquiring his second or third degree, a diploma may mean increased prestige or even symbolize a search for something that cannot be found.
What about me? The other day, I received email notification that my diploma is on its way.
...B.A. in Communication.
..Summa cum Laude--With Highest Honor
I was thinking today, what exactly does my diploma mean to me? There is one answer, plain and simple:
My college diploma is incontrovertible proof that God is faithful.
1. God is faithful to enable me to do what I can't. During three of my years as a full-time student, I dealt with flared Crohn's Disease. More than once I did coursework from the hospital. Also more than once, I remember specifically thinking to myself that I had absolutely no idea how I had completed an assignment. The only explanation was God's power in me, doing what I was unable to do. In the past, I believed that God strengthens the weak. Now I know that strength from experience. It's not just a small boost to help me do a little bit better. It's miracle-working power when I've got nothing left.
2. God is faithful to work things out for good. I did not have a totally rose-colored college experience. I had bad professors, technology issues, and horrible courses. As with most degree programs, some things that happened were indefensible. Nevertheless, God worked each of them out by either allowing them to be resolved or to be insignificant enough that they did not affect the overall course outcome. I consider it almost a miracle that I did not do badly in any courses as a result of some of the mistakes that were out of my control.
3. God is faithful to give His children the desires of their hearts. For quite some time, it has been my dream to retain a 4.0 average and graduate college Summa cum Laude. I have wanted few things in my life as much as I wanted this. Many times, as I prayed, I would feel a feeling I now realize was from Satan-a feeling that God would deny me this simply because I wanted it so desperately; instead, I did my level best to give my dream to Him, and He gave it back to me. There's no way I could have done it alone. I gave my best shot, but it's only His lavish grace that caused that shot to hit the mark, in spite of my errors and the fallibility of others. It's not a reflection of my own perfection, but rather a reflection of His generous kindness to me.
4. God is faithful when my faith is weak. I have saved this one for last because it is what my diploma means to me more than anything else. Throughout my college experience, I have grown in my ability to let go and trust God. From day alpha to day omega, I became a very different person. And yet, at the end I still stressed out about assignments; I still had trouble relaxing until it was all over; I still wondered if I could possibly finish well after all. If I was like that at the end, then you can imagine what a basket case I was at the beginning! Here is the crux of it all: He was still faithful. God did not cease enabling me even when I thought that enabling was not enough. He did not stop strengthening me even when I worried that I could not do things. He did not leave me when I had meltdowns because a grade was lower than expected. I used to have a feeling in the back of my mind that God's love and kindness to me depended somehow on my faithfulness to trust Him and keep His commands. I know now that He is faithful to His children even when, and especially when, we falter. He proved to me again and again that the very things I accused Him of not doing were the things He was working out on my behalf. When I think back on my college career, His faithfulness in spite of me is absolutely staggering.
My diploma will forever serve as a reminder to me of the faithfulness of God that does not waver.
What does your diploma--whether you have it yet or not--mean to you? Where is the line between God's work and our own? Does God always show his love through accomplishments?