Due to space constraints, printed here are excerpts only, allowing the reader to “catch the flavor” of the President’s address at the ILC Commencement service on May 20, 2000.
The text used by Prof. John Pfeiffer was Ecclesiastes 9:10-12:
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.”
. . . How many of us have seen this happen, either in our own lives or in the lives of others? A man may have the best skills, the highest knowledge, the greatest opportunities, and yet for any number of reasons his plans do not come to fruition. The swiftest runner trips or gets a cramp and loses the race; the strongest army is tricked by a weaker force and defeated in battle; the wisest man suffers a stroke, which disables his ability to communicate his wisdom; just when a man becomes the best typewriter repairman, someone invents the personal computer.
We hear about people getting doctor’s degrees, but the only job they can find is pushing a broom somewhere. It can happen to anyone. From an earthly point of view, it seems like time and change overtake them all. — It’s no wonder that some people turn to drugs and alcohol, become criminals or street people.
What does all this mean for you? Should you despair of setting specific goals for your future? . . . Graduates, it was an unbelievably complex series of events that resulted in your personal salvation and brought you to this commencement. Likewise, you are personally involved in an intricate plan that will result in the salvation of someone else . . . perhaps many other souls.
If you believe this, then you will also understand why the Spirit says: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” The “whatever” is that activity which the Lord places in your pathway. Apply yourself completely to it. Apply all the gifts which God gave you: the body, the mind, the talents, everything.
Summer job – more education – permanent employment – preaching or teaching ministry – whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, knowing that you are doing what God wants you to do at that moment.
If you are in a race, run hard. If you don’t win, so what? This may be just the training ground for a much more difficult race, one which you will win because you have learned to always run hard.
It all comes back to faith–faith in the God who made you, redeemed you, and sanctifies you. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) He does not abandon you to accidents and blind luck. By your sins you made your lives empty and useless. By His atonement, Christ made your lives full and useful for His purpose.
Your education at ILC has prepared you for such a life.
o In the physical sciences you saw God's patterns of orderliness in nature, so you know what to expect when you apply your abilities. o In the social sciences you saw God's patterns of rule in this world, so that you know that all things are controlled for the welfare of God's people. o In the languages you saw the patterns of speech which God has ordained, so that you are able to communicate the good news of salvation. o In the fine and applied arts you saw God's patterns of beauty, intended to bring joy to the lives of His people, even when things seem to be going badly. o In religion you saw God's pattern of salvation and how God brought everything together in Christ Jesus, including you.
We have done what we can. Now go forth and as long as you are yet alive, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” And when there is nothing more for you to do with your abilities, you will hear the voice of God saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mt. 25:21).