No words could express the simultaneous relief and joy I experienced once the invigilator said, ‘Pens down please, the exam has now ended.’
There was an air of excitement in the examination hall as it dawned on us that our final exams were actually over.
Unfortunately, there was that ridiculous 15 minute wait where we were itching to get out of our seats but couldn’t leave until the hundreds of exam scripts were all securely collected, packaged and sealed.
I tapped my pen lightly against the small desk impatiently while an excited hum of conversations filled the room.
Finally, the head invigilator raised the microphone to her mouth and released us. A smile broke out on my face at the sound of chairs scraping against the hard wooden floor of the hall. I ran towards the girls and we embraced each other and marvelled at the fact that we had really made it.
Apart from the discussions on how we felt about the exam and the way most of us had run out of time, the next important topic of conversation was merely a question – ‘Are you going out tonight?’
I proudly told them that I was on my way to Tuesday Bible Study, which of course didn’t seem to be the favourite response.
It was only then that I realised that although these people and I would be walking out with the exact same degree, we were all leaving this university with something entirely different.
I’m not just talking about us having unique career paths, getting married or staying single or even living in various parts of the world. I’m talking about the fact that I came out of 4 years of college with the salvation of my soul restored, intact and ongoing while others were graduating with additional diplomas of drug addictions, severe alcoholism issues, depression, anxiety, multiple abortions and a life-long identity crisis.
This realisation was sobering and I spent the entire bus ride to church thanking God over and over again that He didn’t leave me to make a mess of myself.
Although most of my peers had jobs, internships and major opportunities lined up as soon as their ink dried from their exam papers, through connections with friends or family, not all of them could boast of the most valuable, most precious connection in the world – the one I have with Jesus.
Now, I am not diminishing the importance of work after college and career progression – that’s a given! What I am saying is that any progression in life without Jesus is not really progression at all. If someone appears to be a high flyer in the corporate world but has serious substance abuse issues which results in them drinking themselves into a stupor every night, how successful are they really? And if I become the best lawyer in the country having left my faith in the dust during my college years, what have I really won?
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Matthew 16:26 KJV
Just like that, the trajectory of our lives were already worlds apart. I was once in their boat even after being warned of the dangers of college and how it is a spiritual war zone where destinies were exchanged and life-long covenants made.
I had entangled myself in a web of fornication, lies, reviling and disobedience and till this day cannot explain why God chose to yank me out of my reproach and put His people in my path to straighten me even when I didn’t look for it. It is nothing short of the mercies of God towards me through the wonderful people He has placed in my life that I didn’t end these 4 years a complete failure.
I thought about the ones who had tried to pursue Him but fell by the wayside and my heart went out for those who had attempted to put their hands on the plough but woefully looked back moments later.
So while I celebrate being a graduate, I celebrate much more being a graduate who still has Jesus.