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From My Window on the World

    by Mike Jacks

Pomp and Circumstance
Date Posted: June 11, 2007

There is an old saying that clothes make the man. Whether that is true, or not, it is true that clothes can reveal a lot about a person. A military uniform or fireman’s hat can immediately confirm an occupation. Possible the most distinctive is the cap, gown, and tassel that denotes academic accomplishment. Who was it in the dim past that decided that putting a beanie with a square piece of cardboard on your head, then dangling a tassel from it, would somehow represent intelligence? Yet every year, thousands of graduates proudly put these contraptions on their heads while happy family and friends applaud their success.

Once again, our daughter had placed that silly looking hat upon her head to march to the traditional tune “Pomp and Circumstance.” So many thoughts and emotions flood a parent’s mind when they see that hat and hear that music. How I wish her grandfathers could witness this proud moment. She had worked so hard. So many tests. So many projects. So many research papers. You remember the struggles and the times of discouragement. The first year was difficult. So many new situations needed to be overcome. She often commented that the first year was designed to bring down your grade point average. That was true, yet she persevered. Three moment of crisis during her academic career could have led to failure…

She had decided to take three history classes at the same time from the same professor. He was a teacher who expected a lot from his students. The kids named him “Chainsaw” so that might give you a some idea of how they viewed him. She had been advised to pursue only one class at a time. That advice was sound. As the classes progressed, the information compounded. Thoughts of despair entered my mind as we studied together for her tests. How would she ever survive? At the low point in this odyssey, I secretly visited her academic advisor. Voicing my concern, I was informed, “If she can do this, she can do anything!” A lot of study and stress resulted in two Bs and a C+. Hallelujah! She had done it!

More sweat and tears were to follow. As she approached me, her body language evidenced the fatigue and strain that college life was extracting from her. When she entered our van, her head hit the door frame with a sickening thud. In tears of exasperation, she cried out, “I just want to quit?” This frightened me, and I asked, “Then what would you do?” Her mother’s side of her personality kicked in. and her response was “I didn’t say I was gonna quit, I just said I want to!” She had true grit.

Now it was time for student teaching. I had mistakenly thought that the hardest part was behind her. The tests and papers were in the past, perhaps now it would be easier. Nothing could have been further from the truth. There were lesson plans to prepare, papers to grade, and little children to deal with. The students left school at 2:30; she continued working until 6, then came home exhausted, with more preparation to do. The lowest point of her 5 years of college was yet to come. From time to time her professor would come to observe and critique our daughter’s performance. After one of these sessions, she was told she wasn’t measuring up to standards. She walked through our door shedding bitter tears of discouragement and desperation. Once again, Dad called a professor. What can we do to help; our girl is hurting. The response, “She can do it. She just has to find it within herself.” She found it! She did it. With tons of prayer support, a tentative beginning turned into glowing kudos by the end.

And now had come the moment that she had worked so hard to achieve. The tears, the stress, the work, the pain had all been put behind in this glorious triumphant accomplishment. Five years of pain for this minute of gain. No matter what the future would bring, the joy of success was hers. Yes, that cap and tassel might be funny looking, but they represented a whole lot that can’t be described in words. If ever we glimpse a spark of the divine joy, it’s when God allows us to see someone we love succeed against great odds, and to say with loving satisfaction, “She did it!”

So what does this have to do with anything in the light of holy scripture and intergalactic history? Probably not much, but there are some interesting parallels. Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. Whether we want it or not, life is going to give us a real education. At times we may bite off more that we can comfortably chew, but we’ve still got to chew it. There are a lot of chainsaws out there. We may feel like we want to quit, but we’re not going to. We may not always meet the standard, but with the help of God, we’ll try. When we graduate into the next world, there will be a proud parent there to see us.

Who knows? Maybe in the background God will be playing “Pomp and Circumstance.”

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Biography Information:
Mike Jacks was one of the realest people you would have ever met. He was very tenderhearted and not afraid to show it. His life was not an easy one. Yet, he was a man who sought the heart of God and daily strove to align his life with the precepts put forth in the Bible. He loved his family and was interested in history, WWII, and science fiction. These were frequently the subjects of his articles, yet they always went back to his first love, Jesus Christ.

Mike lived in Jamestown, Ohio with his wife, Zane, and their children, Lindsay (23) and Kirk (20). Mike and his family were founding members of Transformation Christian Church, a newly formed simple church.

Mike went home to be with the Lord on February 1, 2017
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