Last month, 683 men and women graduated from Cornerstone University, Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies division, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and Asia Biblical Theological Seminary.
Maggie Dryer (B.A. ’18), in a baccalaureate service for traditional undergraduate seniors and their families, reminded this year’s graduates of God’s persistent faithfulness. Continue reading for a transcript of the speech she gave on Friday, May 4, 2018.
Baccalaureate Service Reflection by Maggie Dryer
I need you to take a trip with me. Walk into your freshman dorm. Say hi to freshman year you. Look into your eyes, have you changed? Are your eyes a little wiser now? Walk the halls of your section. Walk into the community bathroom. On second thought, maybe skip the community bathroom. Keep walking, keep looking, say hi to the people you pass.
Walk into your first year of classes, as you figured out what you wanted to study. Walk into the first exam that didn’t go quite the way you wanted. Put a hand on your shoulder, tell yourself that it’s okay.
The years keep going, and you’re not sure when they started to go so quickly. Did you switch dorms? Maybe even switch majors? Was there a sophomore slump for you? Is your junior year class load insane? How did you get that internship?
Walk into the class with your favorite professor of the last four years. Why did they leave such an impact on you? Did you thank them? Look at your professor, and take the time to see them instead of just looking at them. I know you don’t want to, but leave the classroom now. There’s someone else for you to meet.
Walk into the room where you had your first conversation with your best friend. How did you meet? Would you have guessed then that you would be as close as you are now, or did you initially annoy each other? Look at your best friend. Isn’t it crazy how much we can love someone? How can someone be such a huge part of our stories? Tell them you love them. Tell them you’re so glad God allowed you to meet.
Now I need you to close your eyes. Actually, close them.
There’s one last place we need to walk, although I know you don’t want to walk there. I don’t really want to walk there either, but if we hadn’t walked through it before, we would never be here now. So we have to visit it too, or our story won’t be complete. Please, walk with me to your greatest heartache of the last four years. Look at the deep sorrow in your eyes. Feel for a moment the sting of that pain, that disappointment, that betrayal. Maybe even that bitterness. God feels a million miles away, and you find yourself needing something so much bigger and kinder and stronger than a cliché Christian phrase. Suddenly a photoshopped faith isn’t good enough, and the visceral pain of it all make you brutally honest with yourself and with everyone else. You cut the crap. You need hope. You need hope that only Jesus can provide. You need something so much bigger than rules or appearances, or you won’t make it through. You ask God who He is. You ask Him if He’s really is good, or if you’re fooling yourself. You wait for Him to show you.
Open your eyes.
Whatever we went through, God brought us through it. People might have let us down, we might have let ourselves down, and we might have even thought that God let us down. But in the end, He’s the only one who is always completely honest about who He is and how He feels about us. I guarantee you that when the bottom fell out, your G.P.A. wasn’t your comfort. Your Instagram followers weren’t your concern. And your own strength wasn’t your support. God held you, and He is the one who brought you through the best of times, and the worst of times.
I know I can’t speak for your experience, but maybe I’m not the only one who feels a mix of emotions as this season at Cornerstone comes to an end. Should I be purely happy, as I look back on everything God has done? On the friends I will have for a lifetime? Or maybe I should be relieved. Or should I be sad? My best friends won’t live right next to me, and my home for the past four years isn’t going to be my home anymore.
How should I feel? How should you feel?
Maybe at this point you’re thinking to yourself “this isn’t what I was expecting,” and thinking that you could’ve done a much better job at giving an upbeat charge, and maybe you’re right. But what’s the point in being upbeat at the expense of being honest. I know what it feels like to walk onto one place on campus and have fifty different memories there, some good ones, some painful ones, some a strange mix of both. I don’t know what these four years have been like for you, but I know what it’s like to feel torn about leaving.
All I want to tell you is that the same God who walked through your deepest heartache with you and brought you to the other side of it is walking with you now. The same God who helped you to hope again is worth hoping in still. We will let each other down, and we will let ourselves down. We are broken human beings, and broken humans hurt each other. But Christ will never let us down. He is still good, He is still with you, and He is still worth putting your hope in.
Go into your future with confidence, and be okay with all the mix of emotions it brings, knowing that you have never been and never will be walking alone.