Monday, June 6, 2011

Crossing the Frothing Wave Vat

My husband just finished up the school year teaching sophomore and senior English. He really is an amazing teacher - I'm not the only who thinks so ;) It is a blessing to see him excel in something that he loves.

This year, he was asked to give an exhortation for the seniors at Baccelaureate. Because of our two wee ones (particulary the younger, who protests quites loudly when she isn't in her bed right at bedtime) I wasn't able to come, but I have been told that it was quite a hit. Here it is:

“Crossing the Frothing Wave Vat”

My dear young thanes and ladies of the King,

This being the last time I might exhort you, I thought it fitting that I adorn my exhortation with the English accent with which I’ve plagued you all semester. And I additionally thought it fitting since we Americans subconsciously tend to lend credence to folk with an “across the Atlantic” sound.

No doubt ye young Beowulf scholars recognize the kenning I’ve lawfully stolen for my title: “Crossing the Frothing Wave Vat.” This Anglo-Saxon figure of speech describes the foamy ragings of a sea intent on brewing up some trouble for a nautical crew. “What does this kenning have to do with me?” you might be wondering. Well, for several years now you’ve been sporting about the relatively placid Monte Vista Bay, where your teachers, administrators, and parents have been doing their best to prepare you for your embarkation on the “frothing wave vat” of your college years. These next four years will be some of your most memorable to date for a variety of reasons. So enjoy them as you glorify and enjoy God. But you will also encounter some monstrous waves, waves of lies and temptations that the great-grandfather of Grendel, Satan, will send to try to throw you from the ship of Christ’s Church. I would like to tackle one of these heresies by looking at it in two popular forms.

1st – “Imagine . . .
A world where everything is possible,
No boundaries,
No preconceptions,
Just endless possibility . . .”

Now . . . forget this world . . . because it doesn’t exist. It never has. It never will. It only exists in advertising, in the worst of romantic poetry, and in the minds of those who insist on leaving a wake of relational destruction behind them . . . a la Percy Shelley. You might be tempted to think that your impending future will have no boundaries because your parents are out of the picture. Wrong. Boundaries are inevitable. Although their boundaries will begin to recede, God has been using theirs to train you to be wise enough to see His. Some of you will remember my little analogy from class about the freeing effects of godly boundaries.

For years the lawn in front of our house was relatively scorned by our children for fear of the eight foot child-eating abyss on the side nearest the road. On the very day that Mr. O’Donnell and I deftly erected a dazzling white picket fence, I marveled at the excitement and freedom with which our children frolicked, leaping about like little lambs over the pasturage: they could feel the security of the boundaries we had established for their good, for their joy (and for our peace of mind). Boundaries are inevitable.

If, over these next several years, you try to live without God’s boundaries, you will find that sin will hem you in with its increasingly cramped boundaries, placing upon your heart’s limbs its cold, clinking shackles. Sin often looks like boundless freedom, but it produces unsure slaves; God’s boundaries might look like slavery to the unregenerate eye, but they inspire confidence within His children of freedom. Boundaries are inevitable.

2nd – “Carpe Diem! Seize the day!”

What does this even mean? Adam seized the day . . . and death seized him, bringing death to us all. Carpe Diem. Seizing what is forbidden darkens your eyes, obscures your vision, and eventually makes you dull . . . and dead. God, however, is a God of gifts, of privileges. He loves to give good and perfect gifts to His children. But there’s the rub. Gifts are not meant to be seized. They are bestowed and are to be received with thanksgiving, not seized with a Byronic lust for what many call “life.” So rather than “seize the day,” I challenge you to “receive the day,” as our Lord bestows upon you the gift of His life in Christ. “Receive the day.” “Receive your diploma.” Yes. Even this diploma, including all the hard work you did to gain it, is a gift from God.

My dear seniors, you have been an absolute joy this year. I thank God for the gift you have been to me. In closing, I want to remind you that the reason we spent the entire first semester reciting the Apostle’s Creed and praying the Lord’s Prayer was not only to set the context and tone for our studies, but also because I wanted these true, good, and beautiful things to go deep down into your soul. And should there come a time when you get tossed from Christ’s warship of the Church into the frothing wave vat of the world, I pray that of all things to come to mind, the Holy Spirit would help you say, “I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth . . . ."