Whispers passed from one person to another through a causeway of cupped hands as I walked by…
Wow. I wonder what she did for all those cords?
What does that medal even mean?
Is she the valedictorian?
They’re whispering about me, I thought. And I loved it. I’d earned it after all. A dual degree graduate, I was resplendent in my black cap and gown and dripping with the trappings of academic success—one medal representing my status as a magna cum laude recipient, another that denoted me as the top graduate from the college of education, and braided cords of every color that signified the five honor societies I joined.
I didn’t walk so much as float across the stage to accept the empty diploma covers, and I was loath to take my adornments off even after we arrived at my parents’ house to celebrate the day. What I didn’t understand until much later in life—after college years were well behind me—was that those baubles were nothing more than fig leaves. They were pitiful and paltry attempts to gain the approval I craved.
In his article “God’s Resounding ‘Yes,’” J. R. Vassar discusses humankind’s need for glory and how it can be a blessing or a curse depending on where we focus our energies. If our “glory hunger” leads us to the only Person who can satisfy it—Jesus—then it is a blessing. But if we spend our every waking moment pursuing the approval of man, our hunger will drive us to distraction. We will never find the acceptance we were born craving—no matter how many degrees, awards, promotions, or rounds of applause we garner.
Today, all those once-priceless gewgaws are in an airtight storage bin in the garage. They’re still just as beautiful and bright as the day I wore them … and still just as useless. Hardly worth casting at the feet of the One who died for me. They are a paltry offering to the One who cast infinite glory aside to ransom me from death—the One who has already lavished me with all the praise, love, and glory I will ever need.
Read “Heaven's Resounding ‘Yes,’” by J. R. Vassar in the current issue of In Touch Magazine.