It has been ages since I’ve updated my blog. I’ve had the best of intentions, but graduation responsibilities and computer problems have conspired to keep me away from the internet for the past few weeks. In order to ease back into the habit of posting, I’m starting with my speech that I shared at graduation on June 26.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…it was the epoch of incredulity…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”
When Charles Dickens penned these famous words, he was referring to a Revolution. I have found them to be just as true of my seminary life, which was also a revolution of sorts. I walked into seminary six years ago with a smirk and a swagger and bright red punk rock hair (that I still think is pretty cool), sure that I knew everything I needed to know for ministry. I just needed my degree.
That was then.
I stand before you now, without the swagger and smirk and the only highlights in my hair are the tinsel strands that come with age and (hopefully) wisdom.
Throughout seminary, a great deal of life has unfolded for me personally and for all of us who are graduating, no doubt all of us in this room. We celebrated as some of us got married, some had children—some had many children—some saw the blessings and joy of fruitful ministry. We shared “ah-ha” moments, lots of laughter, and learned the theology of “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas. I’m serious about that.
Other days were much harder. Classes were more like support groups as we prayed for students who lost their homes, lost loved ones, lost their jobs, and I’m sure all of us lost our confidence some late night as we tried to hammer out one more paper that just wouldn’t come. We wondered whether we could make it through seminary and whether God had really gifted and called us to a life of ministry.
Two thoughts swim to the surface as I reflect on seminary: 1. Jesus is King and 2. Who you are is your ministry.
Throughout seminary, we would frequently pander to Dr. Tuck by answering, “Jesus is King,” no matter what the question.
“What was sender’s intended meaning?” “Jesus is King.”
“Who wrote the Gospel of John?” “Jesus is King.”
“Do you want to take a break now or later?” “Now,” but we would throw in “Jesus is King” to get an extra five minutes.
As life unfolded these past years, “Jesus is king” became less a rote answer and more of the solid foundation on which to build my life and ministry. I had to cling to that truth. Jesus is king in the best of times. Jesus is king in the worst of times. Jesus is king in my victory and in my failure. In the spring of hope and in the winter of despair, Jesus is king.
Another phrase I heard and committed to memory was “Who you are is your ministry.” I thought I knew who I was coming into seminary. I thought I was the sum of my skills and accomplishments, personality, and experience. I was wrong. I’m not a master of divinity. A wife. A daughter. Funny, smart, or cool (well, no one thought that except me). When all of that is stripped away, and it will be for everyone one of us,
Who I am is His.
Who you are is His.
Beloved children of the King and nothing can pluck you from his hand.
Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in King Jesus our Lord.
Jesus is king and we are his.
Can you imagine how your life would be different if you really got that? I mean really got that? We’d no longer be cowering fearful slaves: slaves to numbers, slaves to society’s version of success, slaves to maintaining a certain image of ourselves.
Instead we would have freedom. Freedom to follow our King. Freedom to sit at His feet. Freedom to live a life that beckons others to do the same.
May you live and move and minister with purpose and confidence that can only come from the foundation: Jesus is King and you are His.
Frances! I loved reading this . . . loved your thoughts, your images, your humor! We need to catch up soon.
girl, you ought to be a preacher. can you relate a story like no one i have ever listened/read…wow! i/we are so glad you are a part of our ilves… ty jesus.