Nose up in the air with pinky held high… due to our elevated status in society! After all, we’re from Princeton! I still cringe at the thought. Memories of 2 reunions…of college and then graduate school. A few years apart, yet light-years separated them, one from another. I didn’t realize it at the time. Nothing seemed out-of-the-ordinary. Not in the least. It was at Princeton Theological Seminary that my wife and I attended my 25th class reunion. Not the easiest theological, graduate school to gain admittance to. I was the first degree graduate from the Moody Bible Institute to be accepted at Princeton. Nose up in the air with pinky held high! Princeton is a very prestigious seminary in the United States, having been founded in 1812 as the first theological training school for the Presbyterian Church. Just a lovely campus, located in an historic, suburban town in central New Jersey, my home state. Enjoyed being there as a student. Very challenging educational environment for the entire 3 years. Coming back for class reunions…special moments, indeed. But something was in the air this time. Was it my nose and little pinky? Didn’t think so at the time. For the pervasive feeling at this august gathering was one of prestige and status, preeminence and prominence, with the phrase ‘we’re from Princeton’ being repeated over and over again. My wife and I both noticed it. A sort of mantra. Parrots everywhere squawking: ‘we’re from Princeton’, ‘we’re from Princeton’ ‘Polly want a…’! I kept thinking to myself: ‘well, we know that. We’re here, in Princeton, and why must we keep reminding ourselves of the obvious?’ Why, already? Puffing ourselves up with haughty achievement and one-upmanship of a ‘religious’ nature? Possibly few others noticed. Whether anyone else noticed or not, there was a certain scent wafting through the air. Nose and pinky indeed! In spite of breathing that rarefied air(!), I’m grateful for the education I received at Princeton. For the experience of ‘stretching’ myself in many ways. Well, that was the seminary class reunion, and I imagine you get the picture! Three years later we attended my Moody Bible Institute 30th class reunion. It was great being back in the heart of downtown Chicago, where I loved living and working, studying and growing in the Lord, whom I so wanted to serve. 3 years of higher education at Moody were preceded by 2 years at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Florham Park, New Jersey, majoring in business administration, for a total of 5 years earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Pastoral Studies, Greek Emphasis. Back in Chicago, at the college reunion, there were no ‘parrots’, no talk of ‘we’re from Moody’! Those of us from the class of 1970 gathered in a distant classroom arranging our chairs in a large circle. Starting far from where I was seated, the sharing began. The theme was what the Lord was doing in our lives–not where we were from, but whose we are…and what it’s like to serve Him. Seated at a far corner of that circle, I had time to think about what I would share that day. A moment of relief was quickly followed by panic circling around. No idea what I would say, what was even worth mentioning. I felt like I was experiencing midlife hot flashes! It was so warm in that classroom… in early February, in Chicago? As the sharing went around the room, it was amazing what the Lord had been, and was still doing, in the lives of these Moody grad’s, my fellow classmates and old friends. But now the circle was closing in on me. I just knew that I had to tell some joke or funny story about our time at Moody for I had little else to share of what Jesus had been doing in my life since. Sadly, not much to brag about that day. But wait a cotton-pickin’ moment– I was from Princeton! Didn’t seem to matter in that place, with those people. Not at all. My nose felt like it was no longer high in the air but had been rubbed in the dirt. I was so embarrassed. No one noticed or said anything about it. My wife didn’t know what I was going through inside, in my soul. A pained, inner wrestling. Ever felt that way? Could it have been ‘the conviction of the Holy Spirit’? It was for me. No doubt about it. I may have been from Princeton but this was from the Holy Spirit of God Himself! Felt terrible. If I could only have disappeared. Lying didn’t seem like a good option, either. What do you do when God puts a mirror in front of your face and says, ‘take a good gander, why don’t you?’ What can you do? What should you do? That was the beginning of a turning point in my spiritual life. Time to take a good honest look at myself. Not just a look, however. A time to turn my life over to the One whom I loved and, somewhere way-down-deep-within, still wanted to serve. To begin with– stop playing games, wasting time and opportunity, making excuses flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants with nose high and pinky in the air. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. About being mature in Christ. Moving from fleshly folly to God’s power. From the foolish wisdom of this world… to Christ, the wisdom of God. From status to service. From academic prestige to the power of God, even in weak vessels like you and me. Weak? Oh yes, for none of this happens overnight or with a snap-of-the-fingers. Maturity takes time. Time to boast? Not really. Time to appreciate all that the Lord has done in our lives. Yes, with more determination than ever to live for Him. Time to boast? Nose and pinky high in the air? No, as the Apostle Paul says, who quotes the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, ‘…as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’! Sounds good to me. Sounds real good to Him!
Prayer: Lord, you are so precious to us. We lift high your name. The name above all names. We bow before you in worship and praise…today and forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.