Sunday, June 7, 2015

Senior Night Remarks

How can you sum up in four minutes a friendship that has lasted four years?

When I was a senior in high school, I determined I was going to find the right college for me no matter how long it took. I turned to page one of U.S. News and World Reports and started making my list based off things like religious affiliation, geographic placement, and (let’s be honest, guys) male-to-female ratio. My dad took a look at the list and said, “These are all great, but there’s one I think you should add. It’s called Taylor University.” I had never heard of Taylor, but I wrote it down because I thought it would be the nice thing to do for my parents. Flash forward to now, and I guess I want to start off by saying, “Thanks, Dad.”

My Taylor University experience is branded by friendship. Class of 2015, we laughed together at every presidential reading of, “Twas the Night Before Finals.” We cried together when we only had ten minutes left of that movie and our P.A. announced, “Open house is over.” We supported each other when we woke up one morning to find no Bob Craton emails in our inboxes. We watched as new buildings were constructed around campus and our landscape changed. Since freshman move-in day until now, we have done life together. 

As I am faced with the fact that my time at Taylor will wrap up in a matter of hours, I bet I’m not the only one in this room who feels like I’m suddenly losing someone very close to me. It’s like when that childhood friend you’ve shared all your secrets and stories with moves away. The thought of going forward without that friend by your side is painful.

I tried to think of a mature, sophisticated analogy to help me articulate these emotions we’re all feeling, but I decided that the best choice is Toy Story 3. I don’t need to give you any background on the characters; we all grew up with Woody and Buzz. At the end of Toy Story 3, Andy has to leave and he can’t take his collection of friends with him. He makes the decision to give his box of toys to a new little girl, Bonnie. What makes the ending to this movie so perfect is that – even though we are filled with sadness for Andy – we’re happy because we can only imagine the adventures Woody and Buzz will have with this new child.

My time at Taylor University has changed the way I view serving others. Service still means the obvious things, like mowing a lawn, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or washing someone’s feet. But tomorrow, an act of service will mean opening my hands and sharing my collection of friends with the world. There are so many hurting people out there who need a friend. Although goodbyes are difficult, it brings me happiness to know that saying goodbye after graduation will mean that someone else in the world gets to say “hello” to a Taylor Trojan who will show him or her the love of Christ.

Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Sometimes, God’s work within us is heartbreaking. It means relocating and adjusting and making new friends. But the end of this verse is a reminder that one day this idea of friendship will be completed as we worship Jesus together forever.

Thank you, Class of 2015, for a great four years. I’m glad we’re friends.