[adapted from personal remarks at Closing Assembly May 2014]
I began this year with an admonition about climbing the mountain of truth, goodness, and beauty towards a further revelation of the Godhead. The encouragement was to engage in the process of seeing, identifying, and enjoying the glory of God in the streams that flow from the Fountainhead. Even the murkiest stream contains waters traceable to that glorious Source.
At the end of another year of this process, we rejoice. But we DO NOT BOAST. Now is not the time to point to the tower we have built, acknowledging the glories of what we have accomplished. It is a time for lowliness. It is a time for the acknowledgement of undeserved grace.
What have we achieved that He has not granted us? What have we sown that He has not given us the passion and patience to sow? What have we learned that has not been revealed to us by Him? What good can be perceived in this community that should not be directly attributed to a God who gives what is not deserved?
What will be our ruin but to fail to give credit where credit is due? To run away healed, forgetting to offer thanks to the healer. To be freed from slavery, only to grumble in the wilderness.
Psalm 103 (ESV) states:
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all our iniquity,
who heals all our diseases,
who redeems our lives from the pit,
who crowns us with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies us with good
so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
We shall not forget our great Benefactor.
There are many ways we attempt to evaluate our success at TCS as an educational community. I can’t think of one more vital than this: that we are a people of gratitude, aware of undeserved graces, aware of the privileged place in which we stand, singing the refrain “all glory and honor and praise to you forevermore.”
If this higher education we seek does not make us low, it is an unworthy pursuit. As we ascend this mountain I spoke of, tracing the streams, the great irony should be that the higher we climb—the more clearly we see truth, goodness, and beauty—there is an opposite and internal mountain being descended. He must increase, we must decrease.
Five years is a laughable landmark for academic institutions, even for some of those right around us. But it is significant for us. Some of you have five-year-old children… significant right? At the end of the 2013-2014 school year and at the end of our first significant landmark of five years, let us build a monument in our hearts, marking all progress made as the Lord’s. If He is so gracious as to pave the way towards the 50-year monument, the inscription will read the same: “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”