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ILC Graduation, May 1997 —

A View From The Back Row

I had gotten used to being in the front row at graduations at our Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire. Privilege. Responsibility. That has changed, and I think I’ll like the view from the back row just as well.

Across the field of waving heads I noted on stage the decorative potted saplings just coming out of dormancy with leaves and buds barely noticeable. They didn’t look like they belonged there. They will need to be taken outdoors right after the ceremonies, I thought, and planted where they can flourish. Anyone appreciative of the organic needs of such flora could move them out into God’s sunshine, where they belong.

Psalm 1:3 swam into focus and I saw its symbolism before my eyes, as across the stage came our annual Spring young stock, ready for its new growth, about to be transplanted somewhere in God’s greening kingdom where they may flourish and bring forth their fruit in due season. After a hands-on final touch from their admiring professors, a new leaf (diploma) was added to their sparse foliage, and off they went with the prayers and tears of all who love them — to Colorado and Michigan and wherever.

Immanuel Lutheran College presented one seminary graduate, James J. Naumann, ready for the field at Lamar, Colo. The next branches of the Vine were four men of sturdy stock, completing their four years in the B.A. program, then two flowerettes ready for the teaching ministry, followed by four AA grads completing their first two years of college growth in the ILC nursery. Finally, row after row of tender stock that were nourished during their high school years by His streams, now moving out to others parts of God’s garden. We are trying here to soften the transplant-stock, I thought, for these twenty-five seedlings.

Each attentively received a final dressing in the nourishing address by President John Lau: “The purpose of life is to glorify God,” noting that Jesus Christ glorified His Father and finished the work He had been sent to do–for sinners all. Our aim in life is to glorify Him who so loved us, to bear fruit for Him in places He Himself wishes to go among people He desires to save.

In-coming College President John Pfeiffer was firmly planted into his field of new responsibilities by Chairman Fossum. Then President Lau was officially relieved of his thirty-two year tenure at ILC with hearty thanks for his teaching work and administrative labors. So . . . another perennial is gently relocated into God’s arbor vitae shelter-belt, I thought.

My view from the back row was fine. It’s a discovery shared by the rest of you who have learned that moving form your old pew to a different spot (whether in church or in life) can refresh your perspective and enliven your service to Him, our Lord.

–Paul R. Koch