Graduation Day

December 12, 2014

The last two days, I have been at my 97-year-old, preacher-Dad’s bedside as he has made his last journey home. Yesterday morning, just the two of us were together and God gave us some incredible, rare hours of lucidity as we talked and smiled and even laughed together. The last thing we said to each other was “I love you, Dad!” and he said, “I love you too, Son!”

My heart full, I made my way late last night from Oklahoma City to Ft. Worth, Texas to attend my son’s graduation from seminary. It is the same seminary my dad attended over 75 years ago.

My son, Joshua, was born two months after my mother’s death on her birthday 29 years ago. It is why we gave Joshua my Mom’s maiden name as his middle name, Joshua Carter Elliff—a continual reminder that her legacy lives on. He carries my mother’s name as well as my father’s.


Early this morning, on Josh’s graduation day, I received word that my Dad had graduated too! Passed the final exam and moved into the work he had been prepared for since before the foundation of the world.  He will now do his real life calling. C.S. Lewis spoke of heaven as that place where “the creative functions of man, now freed from the clogs of matter, begin to try their wings.” Dad will now discover that his brief earth-days were simply preparatory for that which he was designed to do.

And what a joy to see those he loves! To be released from the bondage of his body that was filled with pains. To completely shed the heavy weight of guilt and regrets that we all carry. To be gloriously reunited with previous graduates. And to gaze directly on the Blessed Face of the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb at His right hand!


In just a few hours, I will have the privilege of reading the Scripture at my son’s seminary graduation. I did not know what to read until my dad’s departure this morning. Now, I will read the glorious charge from an earlier graduate, written in his final days on earth—a challenge to these young pastors and to us all to serve faithfully in our brief remaining days on this earth.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (1 Timothy 4:1-8)

Happy graduation day, Joshua Carter Elliff! And glorious graduation day, Dad! The legacy lives on...

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