My warm thanks for the honor of allowing me to speak this evening on how I have seen God working in my life.
Although I hope ‘I have eyes to see’ I cannot admit to having seen God’s work manifest itself in instances awe, grandeur, the miraculous or the transcendent. My four years here have had few mountaintops and little enrapture. Not a desert, but certainly dryness.
I have not witnessed the strong wind, the earthquake or the fire; but it is no worry, for as the Bible tells, “the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire.” The low whisper of God is invisible. As is often his best work.
Too regularly have I forgotten this: the whisper, the invisible. I haven’t had the courage to wait upon the Lord. I found it easier to work with God, in the world than in myself.
It led me to measure my spiritual advancement by my material accomplishment - every success a blessing, every blessing a gift from God, and every gift a sign of God’s working in my life. But to quote the Imitation of Christ, “It is a wise lover who considers not so much the lover’s gift as the giver’s love.” Truly, I wait regularly for the gifts, but not for the giver.
God’s enabling me to do more – is not the same as God’s ennobling me. Similar to how Henry David Thoreau points out “while civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them.”
Two events from my four years exhibit this.
In the span of one year, I spent a semester studying political theory at Oxford University, and then encountered political reality, as an intern in the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. I was introduced to pathways of power and prestige, but without Jesus, they were without purpose.
It is to my great discredit that I have more gladly walked the halls of power and climbed the stairs of an ivory tower than walk humbly with God along the Road to Calvary.
I’ve fallen into the trap of speaking more to others about what God has allowed me to do in this world, than what God is himself doing and has done for the world, and the world to come. I witness to myself more than God.
Regularly I am reminded of the words “Jesus today has many lovers of His Heavenly Kingdom, but few of them carry his cross. Many follow Jesus up to the breaking of the bread, but few go on to the drinking of the chalice of his passion.”
T.S. Eliot writes in a poem “We shall not cease from exploration / and the end of all our exploring / will be to arrive where we started / and know the place for the first time.” Too late, however, is it to walk life’s many miles, and look back, only at the end, and see that what you bore was your own ambition, not your cross – both heavy loads – only one an easy burden.
The daily commute of the Christian is the way of the cross. I travel it infrequently and always imperfectly, but never without the Lord’s help. I have my Simon of Cyrene just as Jesus did - I have seen God working in my life in the ways in he has helped me carry my cross.
Being at a university, it isn’t a surprise that my Simon of Cyrene has taken the form of wisdom – of learning and theology – both in what I’ve learnt and from whom I’ve learned it. Faith without knowledge is like sight without perception. Love without knowledge is like a river without irrigation. Hope without knowledge is like walking without directions.
Though knowledge enhances faith, hope and love, Knowledge is not faith, hope or love. Though theology helps me know my cross, bare my cross and walk with it – theology is not my cross – theology is not my Christ. A saint once said, “I would rather experience repentance in my soul than know how to define it.” Too often I have been able to define faith while lacking the will to live it.
God speaks often in whispers, works with the invisible and promises what is not yet come. In a way, I’ve allowed him to work in me in so far as I’ve taken to heart what C.S. Lewis once wrote – that “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”
After all, “Blessed are they who believe without seeing.” And truly, by believing, they see all the more.
TWS Hunt is a recent graduate of Trinity Western University and has spent time as a visiting student at the University of Oxford and has interned in the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. This graduation speech was delivered at Trinity Western University's Baccalaureate Service on April 29, 2011.