Student Address from Graduation 2021
Written by Monique Lee and Sela Havili (Presented at Graduation 2021)
We came to Carey fresh-faced, bright-eyed and much much younger… We came with hopes and dreams about what we would learn and about what God would do in our lives.
Today we are graduating – Woohoo!!! Some of us did this in 2 or the usual 3 years, others of us took longer… a lot longer.
William Carey said, “Expect Great things From God, Attempt Great Things for God.” It’s a quote we remember well for part of it is the Wifi password…and oftentimes, many would think, great things from God and attempting great things for God means, to be well-off financially, or to hold high-up positions, or to have a huge church that has thousands of members, and the list goes on and on.
“But my time of studies at Carey has changed and enriched my perspective” says Sela. “And I wanted to share a significant part of that experience with you all, and what great things means to me. A couple of weeks ago, I had major surgery, and I couldn’t walk for a week. Being present here today, is a witness of great things from God, attempt great things for God. To complete my study and graduate today with a Bachelor degree is another example.”
To wake up each morning and breathe free air and see the light of a new day are great things from God. To say hello or put a smile or make someone laugh each day are great things to God. To stop by and spend time with someone who needs somebody to talk to. To carry and journey alongside someone during their hard times. To show love, care, kindness, and generosity for someone are great things from God, attempting great things for God. To give to someone without asking or expecting anything back. To see someone who needs help and just do it without waiting to be asked or told. To offer my all freely in the service of others, without holding anything back, or to find an excuse why I should not. To see a beggar on the streets and share a coin or food, without judgement or second thought. To welcome someone into our homes and offer them our hospitality. To do good consistently whether someone is watching or not. Great things are the things that we have, not the things that we don’t have. Great things from God and for God, are the accumulation of the little goods we do in every moment of each day. They are the simple small things of life.
Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). To expect great things from God, attempt great things for God starts by being great within our own self. It’s not about how great we are on the outside, but how great we are on the inside. Great things come from great hearts, great hearts do great things. That’s what the church and our world need more today… People with great hearts!
All of us want to attempt great things for God. We plan for it and we studied hard to upskill ourselves to be able to do that.
But unless we also expect great things from him… we may find ourselves trying too hard in our own strength.
In the Old Testament, when God called out… Samuel didn’t know whose voice it was. Eli teaches him and so begins the story of his ministry. Strangely, there was no promise of a sense of purpose or fulfillment, there was no comment on Samuel’s own faithfulness or eligibility for the job. As soon as he answered, “Lord, your servant is listening, speak.” God jumps right in and told Samuel about the judgement that was coming. But what did Samuel bring to this equation? He went to bed that night, having no idea that it would be different from any other night. Samuel didn’t have much to do with God determining his “call” or the path of his life. He simply was READY, OBEDIENT, and SERVANT-HEARTED.
Our stories of why we go to Carey are all so different. But there is a common theme among us. We were ready, even if it meant embracing uncertainty and vulnerability. Some of us planned to go. Others of us have a story of a life interrupted by God and are drawn to learn a whole lot more about him.
We were obedient to what we believed God was asking of us. For me this was and still is a scary thing. Obedience isn’t easy. Yet, amazingly, even in this God is so faithful and helps to get our hearts ready. When life threw it’s curveballs of grief, stress, and loved ones getting sick, it was God who enabled us to remain obedient.
And now, that we are capped with our final assignments behind us, there is a question before us…. Can we be servant-hearted? Samuel’s first task was a painful one – he had to tell his mentor about the disaster that was coming to his family. Even in that very difficult situation, Samuel served.
Some us know what path is ahead of us. Some of us are waiting for God to reveal it. And some of us are making our beginning steps on that path. It can be surprising to find that God’s call on our life is not necessarily a promise of personal fulfillment. Maybe, like me, you at times doubt your ‘enoughness’.
It would be nice to get surety that we are capable of doing these great things for God… However, I am learning that in order to attempt these great things, we absolutely must expect great things from God.
We must see that he is the one who calls us, and he is the one who will tell us the next step.
He is the one who has set out the work before us. And as Sela said, our idea of great work is likely very different from his idea of great work.
It is for us to show up with our hearts ready to serve, no matter what he might ask of us. Our part in his calling on our lives is to be ready to hear his voice, to live in obedient and intimate relationship with Him, and to daily learn and experience that it is God who does the great things, through us, if we have willing hearts ready to serve. Congratulations Class!!! We have finished the first step! Now lets go be fools for Christ and expect God’s greatness through our lives.
God is great! I just want you to know that you have no idea how God will use your words for His glory. He used your words to deeply touch me, a missionary and fellow graduate of 2021, on the opposite side of the world in Europe. The great things for God start with those little things for God. Those moments of care, of love, of service, of humility. The mundane just as much as the beautiful. All out of, as you said, the beauty of God’s provision and strength for us. We can abide in Eph. 3:20-21 in that we can expect He will do far more than we could ever ask or imagine.