Recently, my sister graduated from college. It was a long arduous journey for her and I am unbelievably proud. She overcame many obstacles to get to where she is, all while working full time and being a full time mother of two children. In spite of the physical distance she is from me, we were able to celebrate together. As I watched her walk to her seat during the processional, tears came to my eyes. I wasn’t expecting the tears. It brought to mind so many wonderful memories for her and for me and I was just overwhelmed with the moment. (My current pregnancy hormones may have helped spur my tears along.)
They, of course, announced prior to handing out the diplomas on stage, for people just to applause and not to cheer and no fog horns! All this was disregarded, as expected. It made me think though, why shouldn’t they be that excited? You wait so long to hear your loved one’s name and then the anticipation of the moment explodes! After all, they don’t walk down to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” for nothing. Near the end of the calling of names (all 700 plus of them!), everybody was, understandably, getting restless. I had to remind myself that everybody’s name belonged to somebody that loved them. Loved them enough to wait for their name. Loved them so much, they could not hold in their excitement and pride. Somebody had been waiting for this very day, from the first name to the last.
Isn’t that what our heavenly Father tells us? He can’t wait to call our name! He can’t hold back his tears or joy or excitement! He has angels celebrating for us! He has prepared for us a room. (“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”, John 14:2) There are streets of gold (Revelations 21:21)! How wondrous will be that day! I have a feeling he will call us all one by one with everlasting patience, waiting for all his sheep to come home, no matter the first or the last.
I could talk about how prideful our culture is, how inconsiderate people can be, how long the ceremony was, how as a culture we focus far too much on outward success and degrees and honors. In the end it does not matter! It does not matter if you were first in class, received your doctorate, or if you barely made passing grades. What matters most is what happens after “The Pomp and Circumstance”, when you are marching to the recessional and the whole coliseum is cheering. They are cheering for you! Yes, You! Your loved ones are anxiously waiting for you, waiting with their arms wide open, flowers in their hands, hugs at the ready, parties prepared. All for you.
Consider the following story from Luke 15: 11-18, 20, 22-24
“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father’…”So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”… “But his father said to the servants, Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. So the party began.”
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for that party to begin, and I want to be on the invitation list. I want to walk, no RUN, towards my heavenly Father!