“What Will Your Story Be?”
A Charge to the Cambridge Class of 2022 upon their 8th Grade Graduation
By Dr. Barb Isbell
I am privileged today to give a brief charge to this group of thirteen amazing young men and women. This is a day for you to celebrate, to look back at what you’ve accomplished, and to dream of where you will be in the future. And so I want to ask you today, “what will your story be?”
This year in chapel the theme has been Redemptive Stories. You have heard several of your professors and coaches share about how God has redeemed their lives and given them a story of hope. From Prof. VanOpstal you heard how God has taken him from arrogant, reactionary rejection, through uncertainty and skepticism, to humble acceptance of Christ’s Lordship over all. You heard from both Prof. Nine and Mrs. Eber about how God transformed their depression and hopelessness into a life filled with hope in Him and His miraculous providence. You heard Coach Ashley Kelly explain how God changed her from being self-centered and self-indulgent to knowing, embracing, and loving the role of a servant leader.
One of the constant themes from this year’s chapel series has been a misplaced sense of worth in the things of this world, in careers, in perfectionism, and in living for the approval of man. But Prof. Garrett shared how God showed him that our calling as Christ followers supersedes anything this world has to offer. Grace Newman explained how God taught her to live joyfully for Christ. Dr. Schrum and Prof. Caldwell’s stories both led to them finding their worth, strength, joy, and comfort in Christ. I didn’t get to share most of my story with you, but I can say that God has taken me from an extreme lack of self-confidence to confidence in Christ and who I am in Him.
Your stories are just beginning. You stand here today with one chapter coming to a close, on the brink of starting a new chapter of your lives. So I ask you again, what will your story be? You probably have plans, dreams, goals for your lives. And you may be planning for an easy, happy, joy-filled life full of family, friends, a dream job with plenty of money, and all the blessings this world can give. And maybe that will be a part of your story. But will you allow God to write your story? Will you allow Him to transform your hurts, insecurities, and challenges into comfort, confidence, and blessing? Will you allow Him to conform your dreams and desires to His will? Will you trust that, just as God told the Israelites before they were sent into exile, God has a plan for your lives, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope? Will you pray as Jesus did in the Garden, “not my will, but yours, be done”?
No matter where you go to college, no matter if you marry and have several children or stay single, no matter if you live here in Dallas or halfway around the world, no matter if you have a high-paying business job or work as a social servant to improve the lives of others, remember that your worth and identity is not found in these things. Your story is not in what you DO but in who you ARE, or more accurately, WHOSE you are. Your identity is not in your status in the world but in your status in Christ.
I asked your professors what they hope your stories will turn out to be, what they pray will be defining characteristics of your lives. Their responses were quite similar. Your faculty, as a whole, pray that you learn to grow in unity and humility, understanding what it means to bear each other’s burden; that you will cultivate virtue, perseverance, and self-control; that you will abide in Christ and thereby allow the fruit of the Spirit to blossom and flourish within you; that you will celebrate each other’s successes and cherish the community you’ve been given at Cambridge. I add to this the words of the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian believers: “I pray that you may be strengthened with power through [the] Spirit in [your] inner being, so that Christ may dwell in [your] hearts through faith—that [you], being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [you] may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Perhaps one day you will stand in a room like this, sharing your story of how God has transformed your life from one of hopelessness to one of hope, from one of misplaced worth to one of worth in Him, from one of self-centeredness to one of sacrificial service. May your story be one of faith, hope, and love; may your story be one of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May your story be one that glorifies God at every turn, that draws others to Him through word and deed, and that is met at the end of your days with God proclaiming of you, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Eighth graders, I look forward to watching in the coming years as God continues to write the pages of your stories. I am honored to be a small character in them.