As many of you know, Mrs. Cybersalt and I are back from our two week vacation.
The highlight of our time away was Alyssa's graduation from Tyndale University College. Here is a video of the "Graduating Student Reflection" she was asked to deliver. Susan and I were both blown away by the incredible job she did and I couldn't be prouder that Alyssa clearly *gets* the Gospel and can communicate it so clearly. The full text of her speech appears below the video.
[Salutations] It is such an honour to be asked to speak on behalf of my class, and also a huge responsibility. Tyndale is such a rich and diverse place, and I know that it impacts everyone who spends time here in different ways. We have all been impacted though; Tyndale has changed each of our lives, whether it was plans for our future, the type of relationship we have with God, or the kind of person we want to be. As I have reflected on my experience of Tyndale and sifted through what would be worth sharing, a theme emerged, based on Hebrews 3:4 “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.”
My time at Tyndale has been five of the most formative years of my life. I have been transformed from the girl I was at frosh week, fresh out of high school and overwhelmed to be surrounded by people my age who loved Jesus and were passionate to know him more. I have grown in faith as I saw God provide for five years’ worth of tuition; I have had my heart broken and comforted by God’s words in scripture; I have learned to pray with my whole body, to lay on the floor or to stretch out my arms; and I have caught a glimpse of Christian community as God’s workshop, where none of us is a finished work, but none of us is too rough or broken for God to use today. I have been to foreign cities, to Camden NJ in the States and to Aguas Lindas in Brazil where I was humbled to be among people very different from myself who love and worship the same God. I have been nurtured academically and spiritually by professors who do not distinguish between their fields of expertise and their love for Jesus and his people.
A huge lesson I have learned at Tyndale is that if the builder of all things is God, then the builder of all things cannot also be me. Tyndale has helped me understand my role as a servant. As students, many of us have been mentored directly or indirectly by faculty and staff who minister selflessly and show by example the importance of grounding our efforts in Christ. We have been challenged to let go of feeling entitled or proud and have begun to learn how to serve others for their sake on behalf of Jesus, not for our own validation.
The students in this community at Tyndale have also taught me important lessons that I hope I never forget. The first is that God will use absolutely anybody. Year after year I have experienced God using people in my life and seen God change people’s lives who I never would have expected anything from. God has also turned this lesson back on me by showing me how amazing it is that he would use ME for anything. I have learned over and over again how few resources I have on my own, and how I need to rely on God always.
Another lesson I have learned in our community is how much God loves his Church. I see this by all the different kinds of people he has brought together in one place to be built up and sent out equipped for the church today and for the future. Our grad class is evidence that God is at work with a plan to redeem a world that a lot of people think is too far gone to save. We are evidence that God is mighty and his love changes lives, and that the people he pursues are not only the good kids that grew up in Sunday School, but the bad kids that grew up in Sunday School, and that kids that never darkened the door of a church, and the people who spent every day giving God the finger until he did a miracle that changed their heart.
As a body, we at Tyndale have been through everything, and yet we have been called by God to learn and grow in Him and then take everything and continue it in the world. The experiences God has brought together through the lives he called to Tyndale include divorce, drug abuse, rape, depression, abortion, homelessness, promiscuity, death of loved ones and self-harm. Together, we are a living declaration that none of these things can void God’s faithfulness, and we are called now to take this message beyond the walls of our campus to our churches and communities throughout the world where there are people who feel ashamed and are hopeless that God can bring them through their situation. This is the power of the Gospel: that God has made himself available to us - his grace and love are there for the taking. Jesus died so that no matter what our circumstances are, we can have His life.
It is easy to get sidetracked sometimes when we don’t see this power at work in our churches, and this brings me to another lesson I have been blessed to learn at Tyndale: there will always be Christians who drive us nuts. For those of you who never lived in res, this lesson may have not been driven home quite as intensely, but I would be shocked if there is anyone completing their degree today who is always able to see all their peers with the eyes of Christ.
On the bright side, every time I meet someone who I realize will probably drive me completely nuts, I try to remember that I am that Christian to somebody else, and that like me they are a work in progress. Reminiscing about how Tyndale had changed him, a friend of mine once said, “If by the time you graduate you don’t look back on yourself as a frosh and either laugh at or want to strangle that old you, you probably haven’t had the full Tyndale experience!”
Maybe this is why the cliche of coming to Tyndale for a spouse and getting a degree while we’re at it keeps being fulfilled. This is a place where many people realize that they are not as smart or holy as they thought, and that makes them not only SO much more attractive, but also much better husbands and wives. It is the foundation of the gospel that we do not deserve the relationship God offers us through Jesus, but he has made it possible. Our authenticity is more valuable to God than lip-service, and if he has already changed us so much for the better when we were arrogant and stubborn and ignorant, imagine what he can do now that we know we still haven’t made it!
The builder of all things is God, and what God builds does not come undone. No matter what the future brings, we can live boldly for Christ and know that we are never alone and never beyond hope. May our lives continue to be testimonies of God’s mercy, faithfulness and love as He continues to build his church. And may we celebrate the miracle that we can now put letters after our names! Congratulations, class of 2011!