Saturday, May 10, 2014

Turning the Tassel

The end of a thing is better than its beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8a).” I think every senior preparing to graduate understands what Solomon meant when he penned those words.

Then again, every teacher has a healthy sense of appreciation as well.


Looking back over my first year teaching is something of a blur for me. At times, I felt as though I were crawling along in survival-only mode, but now, the year is almost behind me. At other times, it raced by with activities and accomplishments. For better or worse, I jumped in and gave teaching everything I could.

Whether we scrape our hands and knees across the finish line or effortlessly breeze past it, we finish. We have to finish.

But how we finish is up to us.

This Sunday, my church choir will be singing a song called “Finish Well,” and the words of the chorus summarize what I mean better than I could.

“Finish well, every day that we are given,
Finish well, for the glory of His Name.
Finish strong until the Savior finally calls us home.
Give it everything we have.
Finish well.”
Finish well

But what does that mean? Some people think finishing well means straight A’s. Others might think it means first place. Although both are worthy achievements, I think finishing strong means something more.

I wish I could tell you my first year teaching was storybook perfect, but it has quite frankly been anything but – complete with mistakes I’ve learned from (hopefully) and mixed together with drama I could definitely have done without.

Regardless, finishing strong means we did our best. Beyond that, it means we did our best with an attitude that pleased God.

And whether or not that's the case is a question each one of us has to answer for ourselves.

Tassel-turning moments

Although we only move the tassel for one, two, or maybe three literal graduations, life is full of tassel-turning moments. Whether we’re students or teachers, surgeons or stay-at-home moms, chemists or cashiers, we all face choices and challenges – where we must decide to press on even when we don’t feel like getting out of bed.

We don’t march to "Pomp and Circumstance" when we rise to the occasion. We don’t receive a gold-trimmed diploma. (In fact, no one may ever recognize our efforts or appreciate them.)

But those defining moments are God’s way of strengthening our character, graduating us to a new level of spiritual maturity, and teaching us that when we do our best to glorify Him, our work is never in vain.

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