Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Graduation Is the Fruit of Teamwork at Fideles Christian School

On Saturday Fideles Christian School in Cumming, Georgia, graduated its first crop of seniors. Similar graduation ceremonies may have been taking place all across America that day, but for those parents, relatives and teachers who filled the Fideles auditorium Saturday morning, our ten graduates were the only ones in the world. Few young people are fortunate enough to have so many who have invested so much in their lives as those ten.

Indeed, these graduating seniors show what can be accomplished when like-minded people come together as a team in a common goal. First in this group are the parents who parented and home-schooled their children consciously and deliberately with the development of their character as well as their intellect in mind. Many of these parents also volunteered their blood, sweat and tears at the school for the sake of all the students. Partnering with them was a small, but dedicated group of teachers at Fideles who view their calling to students as one of discipleship, not just impartation of facts. They understand that learning to reason and to gain and apply wisdom from the facts is more important than simply memorizing the facts themselves. The work of Fideles parents and teachers was also ably under girded by a very dedicated administrative staff of similar vision who patiently and efficiently managed and balanced the unending demands of teachers, students and parents. And let us not forget the students themselves, who worked hard--often balancing academics with jobs, sports, church and other activities—to make it to graduation day.

This partnership would not have been possible, however, without the indefatigable leadership of Jonny and Ellen Whisenant, the founders and directors of the school. Giving up a more lucrative career a few short years ago, the Whisenants started Fideles with a clear vision and burning passion to build and send out young disciples into the world to carry righteousness, excellence and a better way into every area of our darkening culture. These unsung heroes have made enormous sacrifices for this goal with courage, faith, enthusiasm, patience, love and a healthy dose of good humor. It is their leadership that has pulled everyone’s efforts together to a common end. Fideles students, parents, administrators, and teachers all owe Jonny and Ellen a huge debt of gratitude.

For everyone who was involved, and for Jonny and Ellen in particular, Saturday was a sweet day. To hand out the diplomas to each graduate in his or her cap and gown at this first graduation ceremony must have brought them untold satisfaction and joy along with the knowledge that it has been worth it all. Who knows what world changers are among those ten graduates. Thank God for teams like the directors, parents, teachers, and administrators of Fideles Christian School who are willing to work together to help launch the next generation into their places in the world.

Congratulations, Fideles graduates! Go forth and conquer!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

SPIDER SOLITAIRE: GOD CAN SPEAK THROUGH ANYTHING!

About a year ago, I discovered Spider Solitaire on my computer and have played no other games since. I’ve made quite a habit (OK, it’s probably a psychological addiction) of playing a few games while listening to some good, worshipful music almost every night before I go to bed. In what has been a time of great uncertainty and even more financial stress, Spider Solitaire has been free therapy. Very effective, too. My hands are busy at the keyboard, but my mind is free to replay the day’s events or ponder the difficulties du jour—those which I can control and those I cannot. It helps me to sort things out in a relaxing context.

After playing a couple of losing games, however, my conscientious side exclaims, “What a waste of time! Shouldn’t you be grading papers, working on your book, scrubbing grout with a toothbrush, sleeping, (fill in the blank)?”

Next my philosophical and religious sides chime in, “There you go again, worshipping before the flat screen god. How shallow you are! Idolatrous, too. You should be reading your Bible.”

I generally agree with these pesky voices and would heed them, except that God so frequently speaks to me through this silly game. No, really.

Here’s how it happens. Maybe I’ve lost a few games and feel it’s high time I win one. I start a new one that I very much want to win. It starts well. I move cards hither and thither with all the strategy and skill I can muster and am several times rewarded with the gratifying click-click-click of a full suit folding. Progress! Hope! I can already taste victory. I make a few more good moves—click-click-click.

Then I get stuck. In the dark room, no doubt ghoulish looking in the screen’s bluish glare, I stare and study and steam until every possibility is exhausted. Then, annoyed and disappointed, just as I am about click this game off the screen and into some cyber-netherworld and go to bed, I suddenly spy one last move and grab it. This one turns out to be the move that opens the whole game. There it is—sweet victory!

This win gives me way more joy than a simple game should. Then I understand that is because the game is a metaphor for my life and its challenges. I think things are working out; then they don’t. I try everything I know to do to overcome a scary problem, but it remains. I don’t know what else to do, and want to shout, “God, where are you? What do you want from me?” But in my discovery of the move that opened the solitaire game for me is the voice of God exhorting me in his strong, but gentle way, “If you will just trust me, I will remove what holds back your own victory as well. You can’t see your next move, and you don’t know what to do, but I see the whole game strategy from beginning to end, and I will open the way for you if you will depend on my sight.” And then he gently chides, “Did you really think that I wouldn’t come through for you? Have I ever not come through for you?”

As his words pierce my heart, I despise my lack of faith. Then, in the background I hear the band Selah soulfully singing the old song “Faithful One”:

I find no hope within to call my own
For I am frail of heart, my strength is gone
But deep within my soul is rising up a song
Here in the comfort of the faithful one

I walk a narrow road through valleys deep
In search of higher ground, on mountains steep
And though with feet unsure, I still keep pressing on.
For I am guided by the faithful one.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious friend,
You have been faithful,
Faithful, so faithful to me

I see your wounded hands, I touch your side
With thorns upon your brow you bled and died
But there’s an empty tomb, a love for all who come
And give their hearts to you, the faithful one.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious friend,
You have been faithful,
Faithful, so faithful to me

And when the day is dawned and when the race is run
I will bow down before God’s only Son
And I will lift my hands in praise for all you’ve done
And I will worship you, my faithful one.

I draw strength and comfort from these simple, elegant words of truth and repent of my faithlessness toward my Faithful One. Then I shut down the computer, go to bed, and recount all the miracles He has done to get me through in my life so far as I drift off into a peaceful sleep.

Maybe you should play a little Spider Solitaire tonight.

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