I am trying to attend as many events as my schedule permits. On Friday I was rather stretched to the max. The pastoral staff went to the hospital to be with the John Wilbur family and I stayed until the last possible moment before I had to leave to drive to Scottsdale, Arizona. This was a 2 1/2 hour drive.
Dennis Dwyer, one of our newer church members, was graduating with a Master of Divinity in Biblical Communication degree from Phoenix Seminary. Dennis traveled for eight years between Tucson and Scottsdale and put an astounding 110,000 miles on his car in the process.
Dennis wrote the following:
For the past eight years and one hundred thousand miles plus, which is four times around the planet, half of which were driven at night in line with a string of lights, Phoenix Seminary became (and still is!) a very big part of my life. I will treasure and remember it for the rest of my days.
I really never thought that this incredible opportunity to be with like-minded people, having the same passion to know more about Christ, would come to a completion. I shared with Dr. Paul Wegner that towards the end of my studies in communication skills and languages that I wanted to transfer into the counseling program and start over so that I could stay on longer, because what I received in this journey through the studies of the Bible is this thirst to know more about who God is, where I am going and what His plan is. What I have seen in my sixty plus years on this tiny planet is that time is very short and it travels very fast the older we get. I have also witnessed that getting older is not easy, the mind is not as sharp, the wrinkles and loss of hair and when I look in the mirror I see that time is not very fair to our body; the reality hits that we are here for a short period of time and we need to make the best of it, but also I believe there is something better, and that there is an eternity that awaits us.
Friday evening’s graduation commencement ceremony was surreal! It is difficult to describe the emotions that Gina and I were going through as we stepped onto the platform to receive my degree, it seemed as though time stood still: was this really real? My first emotion was thinking that I am not worthy of this honor, that God would use someone like me to bring to this point in my life. The second emotion was, what will I do next?
I was honored by the many people who attended the service, by sharing their time in this special celebration, and not just for me, but for all who ‘ran the race.’ I am grateful for all the people who have prayed and supported us, who continued to encourage me when I felt that the end was not near enough or even attainable. I especially want to thank Quent and Ana Quiner who were always praying for us from the beginning, and I am so grateful to Col. Don Nixon and his wife Jo who continually supported us in encouragement to stay in the battle and our friends Kim Dupuis, Manny Torres, and Charles and Joanne Isgett for loving us as dear friends. I am indebted to my library friends as well; Doug, Janet, Jim and Mitch who were always cheering me on and my alumni brothers and sisters, who are many, who knew the cost and also supported me along the way. I appreciate the care of Pastor Armstrong and Deacon Fred Vanley from my church, Tucson Baptist Temple, for believing in me. I am also truly grateful for the ones who did not believe in what I was doing in this quest to know the word of God, because they gave me the wherewithal to press on for the cause. But most of all I am blessed to have a wife who was able to endure this quest with me in the midst of her personal physical suffering and I could have never finished this dream without her love and commitment to see me through.
I was moved by Dr. Daryl Delhousaye’s message about having courage in the midst of the hardships to stand firm against the nay-Sayers; to not be afraid of fear of what people thought or said, but to face it, embrace it and to look for the justice in the truth in order to press on for the cause. I believe many hearts were touched and encouraged that night by his commission and charge to the graduates and the audience as well. I will always treasure the servant hearts of ALL of the professors who have shared so much wisdom, care and love. Each of us is set upon a journey with one cause, purpose and end: to seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
So the question is what is next? Gina and I want to ‘go to Disneyland!’ Just kidding, but I have to get back to work. Time is short and I have much to share. My desire would be to continue on in academics, but there is a battlefield to stand on and I have asked God to send me. I would like to write and teach, but the real comfort comes from knowing that all that is given to me is this one day. Jeremiah 29:11 for I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Imagine that, just for a moment; God knows what will be, for each of us. What I do know is that I am going to continue to live for Jesus, a wretched sinner as I, who is saved by grace, God’s grace that sees beyond all of our faults, it’s not about a degree, but about the degree of love I give to others.
I am blessed to have you as part of my life, as well as many others who have made an impact in my journey through this life, by challenging me, testing me, pushing me, encouraging and praying for me. I ask that you will forgive me for the times that I have hurt or disappointed you. It is my prayer that God will bless you as well and thank you for taking time to read this and again thanks for being my friend.
So many in life never complete the journey and are filled with excuses. I would like to congratulate Dennis for completing an arduous eight year journey. I can think of a dozen reasons to quit; yet, he finished the job. Well done!