One of Cairn’s newest alumni, Sara Fiscus, shares her thoughts on graduation and Cairn—days before commencement and her big speech. Take a listen and then read her speech below.
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God’s Gift of Grace in Change
by Sara Fiscus
Good morning to my fellow peers, professors and faculty. I am greatly honored to be sharing some reflections regarding my time here at Cairn University. In deciding whether or not to give a speech, I talked to Lloyd Gestoso and asked him, “What does this brunch speech entail?” and he responded, “Just talk about how by God’s grace you are awesome, and how by God’s grace everyone is awesome!” (Haha!) That didn’t necessarily make me feel more comfortable to do it, but I thought doing something uncomfortable is okay, and especially for me, it’s good. So I’m going to take half of his advice and focus on God’s loving grace. Whether I or anyone else is awesome, is up to your discretion!
In reflecting upon God’s grace in my life, I can’t help but go back to the most profound and life changing event that God so perfectly orchestrated: my adoption. In that moment I was taken in the arms of a grateful pastor and loving Christian school teacher who would raise me in Lancaster County until I stepped out from under their care and headed to Cairn University.
Adoption has always been a part of my story, but it became a part of my testimony during Tom Allen’s Intro to Theology class. It was in this class where we talked about the theological concept of adoption and what it means for us to be brought into not only a relationship with God but a Sonship. This screamed “Grace!” in my mind and connected all of the pieces that I had grown up learning as a “PK” (pastor’s kid).
Now, I’d like to back up and talk about something that may be a bit more relatable for you all and that is; change. We all know the excited/nervous feeling we had moving into Cairn. I’m going to be completely honest, and say that I actually did NOT like it here for the whole first semester. I did not feel like the friendly, outgoing person that I knew I was, so I blamed the school! What I did not realize then is that it would have been hard anywhere I went, because change is hard.
I played a silly game with God where I said in the fall, “Okay, Lord I will try out for the spring musical. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll leave Cairn.” Well… it worked out, and I stayed for the spring. When I finally ventured out into the great room, some people thought I was a transfer! During that spring semester I still wasn’t convinced, so I said “Okay, Lord I will apply to be an RA.” And what do you know I came back the next fall. Most people apply to be an RA because they love Cairn, but I did it a little backwards and I applied to see if I would come to love Cairn and I can genuinely say that being a part of the Resident Life Team cultivated a love for Cairn. Looking back, I see what I thought was a game with God, was actually Him bringing to life what He had already planned.
I believe it is God’s gift to us in bringing changes. He loves us enough to shift our attitudes and shape our circumstances in order to change us to be more like Him. Change is hard, but it is so much more because I see it as God’s grace in disguise.
That time during class registration when everything went smoothly at 7am; that was God’s grace.
Those moments you struggled in your friendships or relationships; that was God’s grace.
That time you did well on that test you surely didn’t study for as much as you should have; that was definitely God’s grace.
The period where you struggled to balance your home life and school life; God’s grace as well.
Denny’s 20% discount! That is God’s grace.
The season you felt so alone and like no one understood; that was God’s grace.
Penndel being sold. That is God’s grace too.
Even in this very moment, God’s grace is alive.
So as we venture into this next BIG change of life starting tomorrow, I encourage you all to look at it through the lense of grace and see the bigger picture. I understand that these type of speeches are hard to remember, but let me ask you for a favor. If and when you see me again years from now. Most likely, I will be going through some sort of change, good or bad that I cannot predict today. But remind me of this speech, and say, “Sara, take your own advice. God’s grace is alive and it is enough.”
Thank you graduates and staff. I pray God’s blessings on all of us as we continue to seek His face through this next change in our lives.