Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

—Joshua 1:9

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that without fail, I cry or tear up at weddings and graduations. I know, I know—HUGE surprise!! So, since this is the season for both, I’ve been doing a lot of weeping lately, but that’s okay because it’s all been good.

Like last night. My precious daughter Amy graduated from law school, and yes, her dad and I have gone through thick and thin with her over the trials (no pun intended) and tribulations of becoming an attorney. Mind you, she knew what she was getting in to because she bought the book, Law School for Dummies, when she was a senior in college, right about the time she was bemoaning the fact she didn’t have a boyfriend. Imagine her joy when one of the chapters in the Dummies book began with: (note: can’t find the book now to verify the quote, but it was something like this) If you have boyfriend or girlfriend, dump ‘em, if you have a spouse, sit ’em down and give ‘em the cold, hard facts—your life now belongs to law school!

Amy graduated summa cum laude from Truman State (called the Ivy League of the Midwest) in three years, a rare achievement, I am told, so I really didn’t expect law school to be that difficult for her. But sadly, the Dummies book was right on—law school all but owned her, an experience akin to three years of physics/chemisty/math … in another language!! The legal world is literally another mindset one has to learn and a logic that by most of our stands, is not logical, where everyone competes against the other for top ranking. Not a fun experience, trust me, at least not for Amy and her parents. You think I’m weepy?? Try studying the suggested 500 hours for a bar exam. The day Amy’s books came, the box was a literal foot and a half high of the biggest, densest 2” manuals you have ever seen—eight of them—with about as much white space as a moonless night.

Mind you, we’ve lived with this for three years now, fully aware our daughter was about to receive her juris doctorate (Dr. Amy as she requested I call her), but you know what? All of us have been so slammed with work, deadlines, life, that it wasn’t until I sank down in that padded theater chair of the St. Louis University auditorium that everything came in to focus—the hard work, the tears, the roller-coaster of angst, hopes and fears. I watched my daughter walk to the stage with 299 other law graduates to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, and the moment struck hard, welling tears in my eyes. This was one of life’s high points—the top of the roller-coaster when you’re entitled to scream as loud as you can with your hands in the air (and yes, of course I did) before you plunge back down into reality with book deadlines and studying for the bar.

But I have to say, the moment that wrung the most tears from my eyes was when the chaplain opened the ceremony with an invocation that included our Scripture quote today. Oh my … the dam burst on that one, I can tell you that because when push comes to shove and everyday trials of living give way to pinnacle moments like this, it truly is all about God. Acknowledging Him for His hand in our lives, His guidance and His daily blessings. To slough off that discouragement and fear and KNOW that He is God, and not just God, but a God who loves each of us with a fierce and everlasting love.

Yes, my daughter has achieved much by completing three years of law school, but the trials and tribulations so inherent in life are not over with the hooding of a juris doctorate or passing the bar, no. She now enters a legal community glutted with freshly minted lawyers like herself, scrambling for positions that aren’t there in a weak economy. And yet she has something far greater and far more powerful than a legal degree. She has a God Who not only has a plan and purpose for her life—and ours—but a God Who, as our Scripture today points out, “is with us wherever we go,” whispering in our ears, “Fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee …” —Genesis 26:24.

You know, I don’t care if one has a PHD, medical degree or law degree, as far as I am concerned, the only degree that is really necessary in today’s world is the “degree” of confidence and faith we have in a God who is bigger than any achievement and higher than any pinnacle of success. If we have nothing else and have Him, it is more than enough.

Happy weekend and may you celebrate the greatest achievement of all—a God Who gave His life so He could turn around and give it right back—to us. Abundantly, exceedingly more than we think, hope or pray!



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