I have clung to this verse for years now. And by cling, I mean you might as well write the thing on my forehead, because that's where it needed to be. The death of my Dad, loss of all material possessions, strongholds, addictions, loss of temporal sources of security, withdrawal from Georgia Tech, despair, and more, marked some of my college years. I was reading last night in the beginning of Judges, and I wanted to weep at what Jesus had done for me. You see, there was a new generation that took possession of the promised land that had never witnessed the miracles the Lord had done to bring the Israelites to that point. They'd never eaten the manna, never fought a battle against a giant, never cried out to the Lord, never beheld His glory atop a mountain, never walked across a divided sea, never lived the miracle of their shoes not wearing out for a 40 year desert journey, never had the privilege to 'be strong and courageous, to trust that the Lord 'would not fail them.' Their fathers had, but they had not. And it was then that I realized the gift my Lord had given me. I realized that I'd rather partake in the battle and experience defeat, so that I could actually know my Victorious Warrior, my God who is Mighty to save. I'd rather know Him as a Shepherd, leading me with the pillar of his cloud by day and fire at night to my promised land, than already be there solely because of my heritage. I'd rather have the privilege to have His Word be absolute life to me, and experience death without it, than my life experiences allow me to breathe apart from His very breathe coming off of those pages. This is exactly what some of my college years have been for me. On the inside, my walk across that stage felt like the scene of David breaking out in dance after the ark of the LORD was carried only six steps (2 Samuel 6:12-14). Six steps...and praise. For He had given me Himself to carry in this temple of mine. As the ark carried the tablets of stone of God's Word, God had graciously written His Word on the tablet of my heart.
1) I picked my sister up from the airport on Thursday. While standing at the baggage claim, I got a phone call from Wheaton letting me know that I'd been accepted into the masters in biblical exegesis program. (Jesus miracle for sure). Yep - I got some strange looks from others when I started jumping up and down. My sister thought I'd won the lottery (chuckling....as if I actually play.)
2) My Mom and brother came on Friday, and we jetted off to enjoy a nice dinner.
3) My inability to fall asleep from the night before started to kick in on Friday. I'm not sure why it took me until 4 am to fall asleep - maybe I had the pre-graduation heebie jeebies? So, when I called the hotel to make sure they would hold our room since we would be getting in rather late, I instead said "Yes. I was just calling to confirm my late arrival." My sister starts cackling in the background, and I end up hardly able to speak while laughing at myself. Like, she's going to know whether I'll be late or not! Like, she would even care. Like, I need her permission to arrive late.
4) Sleep was not an option the 2nd night either. Apparently, my family decided that I needed to be graced with the presence of their snoring chorus all night!
5) I woke early to curl my hair before I left for the ceremony. Since I considered the cap to be about the dorkiest looking thing in the world, my bloodshot eyes to have the ability to scare anyone, and the bags under my eyes to hold any tears that might fall, I was depending on some good hair and my beloved black high heels to get me through the day :)
6) Yep. It decided to drizzle that morning. In other words, my curls looked more like I was trying to bring back the fashion of the 'tease.' Bah humbug...
7) The graduation ceremony was at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta near the CNN Center and the Olympic Park. I walked by myself, high heels in hand, to the dome because I had to be there earlier than my family. I stopped mid-track when I got right outside of it. I was standing on holy ground: only months earlier, I had joined 17,000 other college students, worship leaders, and teachers at Passion 07 in reckless worship to the One True God. We had joined hearts and mouths to confess praises to my Adonai and Savior. I stood there, paralyzed by His Spirit falling afresh on me, overwhelmed by His faithfulness and glory. I hadn't realized in January that months later I would be walking those same grounds again to enter the building of my graduation.
8) I took a nap twice during the ceremony because of its horrid length. But I had no adrenaline problems when I got to take the stage. I shook hands with good 'ole President W. Clough, strolled across, and apparently acted as if I'd just entered the Miss America pageant with my continuous waving and smiling to my family. I was too excited to quit even when I passed them, so I decided to just keep going with the act as if I knew any of the other fans! lol....
9) Lunch went by fast, but it may have been because we were in a fancy shmancy place that served me a portion the size of my wrist (okay - slightly exaggerating). But I wanted some Krispy Kreme afterwards I was still so hungry!
10) The day ended with some quality 3rd row seats at the Braves game with my brother and sister. I do love me some baseball.
The celebration is still going on in my heart. I'm still trying to process the finality of what just happened, and I suspect it will take a while. Because of my dear Jesus, the One who has brought me 'thus far.' He is my Stronghold, and my Life. He is my Deliverer and my Portion. He is my 'yes.' I love Him so...And though He may have dialed my spirit in the early college years to 'confirm my late arrival' for graduation (it took 6 years), I know that nothing is untimely in His kingdom calendar. I wouldn't trade it Jesus...I wouldn't trade it. Six steps...