When Graduation Hurts :: Part 2

Earlier this week I wrote about the heartache of ministry and knowing that there are those graduation who never encounter Christ and the abundant life that He brings.

The graduation tent is now fully packed up and I’m continuing to think about the beautiful, painful reality of our work. We raise up students that will be world changers in their respective fields while they are with us…. And then we send them out.

How bittersweet it is when the time comes to send them! My heart is so full and content as I consider the way that the Lord has formed the graduates of our ministry this year. I’m in awe that I get to do this work and see the transformative power of God at work. I’m fully confident that each of them will truly be catalysts of change.

And yet in this crazy work of ministry our lives have become knit together. I’ve experienced the reality of Jesus’ words—give and it will be given to you. They’ve been a tangible expression of God’s kindness to me. I’ve watched the relentless love of God in their lives and become more convinced of it for myself.

Last week, I experienced the joy of watching one of my students give the speech for Baccalaureate at our small liberal arts school. She challenged her peers to be not only people of knowledge, but of wisdom. She closed her speech, “As we step into what’s next, let us be people who refuse to be satisfied with a life of comfort. Let us be people who pursue more—pursue justice, pursue peace, pursue empowerment of the weak…pursue wisdom. And out of this wisdom let us step into the destiny that awaits us.” I’m so thankful for the honor of walking with students who are wise, who lead me as much as I lead them deeper into a life of faith, and who give their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

I love Shauna Niequist’s work and I can’t help but ugly cry when I read her essay “Puppies” in Cold Tangerines. She expresses that unique ache of loving students so well.

“When people talk about true community or true intimacy, I think of them, this lovely, bizarre group of teenage girls … They loved me with a force that I think only comes with youth, a wide and fierce and expressive force, and I loved them with that same love, because being with them let me live like I was young… They taught me more than I ever taught them, and they gave me more than I ever gave them, and the best things they gave to me were ten gorgeous examples and all the permission in the world to love with that wide-open love, unmeasured and uncalculated, like a puppy in a box with all of her puppy-friends, right up close to them, feeling warm and safe.”

Truly, this is the abundant life--to know and be known with such uncalculated and fierce love!