I recently got an email that I've been anxiously waiting for – My Bachelor in Science degree in Religion from Liberty University was officially conferred January 10, 2012.
I received my Associates degree 14 and 1/2 years ago from George Corley Wallace Community College Selma. Although I took a year off to work, I was still basically fresh out of high school. I had all the time in the world to study, and a flexible schedule. I was only taking core classes. No pressure at all. I graduated with a 3.87 GPA.
This time around, almost 15 years later, everything was different. I had to learn how to actually use a computer. I had to master MS Word. I never once picked up paper or pencil.
Not only that, I had a family – or rather grew a family. When I started at Liberty, Jackman was a baby in the NICU at Children’s Hospital. Lisa and I were both working then, and both driving up to see him at least once a day. Then Brolin came along, and things got even crazier. Many Saturdays, Lisa would take the boys to play at her parents while I spent all day working on a paper. The whole time I was in school my mother came over to babysit these wild young’ns so that I could get my work done. The pressure was almost unbearable at the end.
I should have just scraped by.
I graduated summa cum laude; a 4.0 GPA.
But I left out something. The difference was that this time I devoted it to the Lord. Before I did any work, I would pray, and ask God that instead of this just being purely academic, that he would allow me to get to know him better. It’s true that when I want something I go for it persistently (my wife and my mother will both attest to that). I wanted nothing short of excellence, but I made the conscious decision to seek the Lord first and put my desired perfection on the altar, so to speak. That was hard on my pride. Now, I’m not prideful (maybe I should say as prideful) as I would have been – I’m humbled.
See, in light of the obstacles, this wasn’t an accomplishment of my own sheer determination. There’s no way I could have done this own my own. It was too hard. I would have fallen short somewhere along the line. Heck, I came close to quitting. This wasn’t an achievement at all. It was another one of God’s many ways of showing off what he can accomplish with weak, tired, worn out, regular folks that love him. And it brings to mind one of my favorite passages in the Bible:
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31)