On Friday, May 4, rows of students walked down the 50-yard line of the College of the Canyons football field, as thousands of Master’s University graduates had done before them. Acknowledging family and friends in the stands, students waved either vigorously or gracefully, stuck their thumbs up in the air and smiled, but the smile on LaMaya (Swain) Nilsen’s face beamed the brightest that night.
For her, lining up on that field meant she would be the first person in her family to graduate.
“It’s a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness,” the Organizational Management major said. “He’s sustained me over these years and it’s so sweet to finally be here.”
Explaining her college journey, Nilsen said, “My dad is such a hard worker and has been really good about instilling in me just a hard work ethic. And, my mom just oozes enthusiasm and joy at every point. It’s been good to have a cheerleader and a drill sergeant type saying, ‘do the work’ and ‘you can do it!’”
David Ramos, an international student from Davao City, Philippines, likewise credited much of his success to the support of his family.
“All of them are here tonight,” he said, grinning. “I’m thankful to the Lord for His goodness and His grace and for providing for me the means to coming here from the Philippines (for my education).”
After four years of school in California, Ramos will brave more than 29 hours in a plane to travel home and help his church’s school. “By God’s grace, I want to pass along all the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had, to help out our community, church and school,” he said.
Nilsen and Ramos are only two of the 200+ undergrad graduates, and the graduation stage represents something unique to each one. For LaMaya, it is a first. For David, it is a future of educating students through the education he was given. For others, it may be a step launching them into post-graduate studies, a career or an internship—the adult world of the unknown.
Dr. H.B. Charles, Jr., a pastor in Jacksonville, Fla. and a distinguished speaker, urged the Class of 2018 to trust. “I want to take these moments to challenge and charge you with these many words,” he began and quoted Proverbs 3:5-6.
“You cannot trust God with all your heart and lean on your understanding at the same time. You must trust God exclusively; you must depend on God wholeheartedly,” Charles said.
“The Word of God is big enough to accept all of the questions you have, but you must be careful not make idols out of answers. If you make idols out of answers, the enemy will always make sure that you have another question, and your unanswered questions will lead to eternal punishment.”
For many graduates, this post-college freedom brings the craving for a life GPS, with a green line tracing the miles to a destination and a voice from heaven saying “turn left here.” For the first time there is no next step, no other educational institution to get through before “life begins.”
Knowing that, Charles left the Class of 2018 with this:
“The challenge this afternoon is for those of you who… are clinging to clarity rather than trusting in God. The challenge is to live contingently, putting all of your confidence in the wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, sovereignty of God, rather than clinging to clarity.”
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