A toast to Dear Old Pennsylvania


…the adjective bestowed to the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2022 on the day of our convocation by President Amy Gutmann herself. Our official class name, “Timeless 22,” won by vote of applause, beating out “Class Kiki” and “22 together.” Yet it seems that despite our beliefs in that moment, time is running out. 

I’m writing this a bit over halfway through my last of eight semesters as an undergraduate at Penn. Roughly 94 percent of the way. Reflecting back on these last few years, I’m awestruck by just how much has happened. 

There have been 1,318 days since I moved into Stouffer College House (nearly two million minutes for those who are counting). These have been the most formative days of my life.

I was taught how to use chopsticks and ate more rice in four years than in the 18 preceding. 

I watched a little Netflix, managed a book or two, and played spikeball once or twice.

I took 36 credit units and, for a few, passed only by the skin of my teeth. I learned a lot, forgot some, but remembered the important stuff. 

I made friends with some of the most important people in my life and spent more than a few nights hearing or saying (a little less ironically than intended), “this is so college.” 

I found a new home. As earnestly as the Ohio pride fought to keep me loyal, Philadelphia, for all its flaws, will forever be the place I came into myself. 

I found my identity in the Scriptures. I read my Bible a few times over and learned to trust and love what the God of creation has to say about Himself, me, and this world in which we live.

And I suffered. 

There were nights where the laughter of friends was replaced by the sound of my lonely tears. Days where rejection left me in despair and afternoons where I sat quietly in dark rooms. 

There were emails, what felt like a dozen, informing me of the deaths of my peers. Car accidents, suicide, whatever else takes people too young. I mourned death, which one day will have no power over creation (Revelation 21:4).

I mourned my sin. As I grew in knowledge of the law, my trespass increased (Romans 5:20-21). 

For four years, I’ve been exposed to the elements, left out to dry in the winds of a world for which I was not made. As I watched the philosophy of men capture the minds and hearts of many around me, the Holy Spirit protected and nurtured those who are being made perfect. 

And so through all this, I rested in Christ.

Both my testimony and those of others within the vibrant community of Christians on Penn’s campus proclaim the handiwork of God. He is a God who sustains, draws to Himself His people, and provides for all the needs of the Church. 

For me, this life as I know it is coming to an end.

I won’t any longer register for classes or take exams. My friends and I would make fools of ourselves to call nights “so college” after we’ve left. There will be no more retreats with my campus ministry or Bible courses led by the faithful faculty of Christian Union.

I might never again set foot in DRL (hopefully) or College Hall. My PennCard will stop working. The excessive resources afforded to us students will be lost, and I might be too. 

I don’t know what my life is going to look like—not ten years from now, not five years from now, not even in June. But I know Who is going to guide my steps. 

I’ve had about four years to do my best here before I go. Was my time here marked by how much rice I ate? Did I leave behind more than change in the pockets of Penn administrators and food truck owners? Will my friends tell stories about me for a bit before they, too, graduate?

Who cares?

Shortly after I walk across the stage at commencement, the institution of Penn will forget about me. A few years later the communities in which I’ve invested will too. I will not be “timeless,” despite the best efforts of Amy Gutmann to make it seem as though I would. 

But that’s not the point, is it? God did not place me in this space to be remembered. I will not get to heaven and, facing the God of the universe, be asked what kind of legacy I left at The University of Pennsylvania.


He will look upon me: a sinful man made to be the righteousness of God through the holy sacrifice of Jesus Christ, my Savior. And He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

What good have I done if my name is remembered and the name of Christ is forsaken? What power has my legacy to save?


So, in acknowledgment of this, I hope to encourage a few people.

To the Senior, with mere weeks remaining:

Don’t evaluate the time spent here by thinking critically of your accomplishments, for the God who accomplishes all things accomplished His purpose for your time at Penn. Instead, look to Him for guidance, seek His face, and finish strong. Endure to the end that you might not tarry to proclaim His name in the time you still have.

To the Junior, with one more year:

A similar encouragement: do not let up. For the sake of the gospel, continue to work for the good of the Kingdom of God. God did not place you in this space for three years, but for four. In His sovereign wisdom He has ordained you to remain at Penn, so steward the last year well. Invest in community, in relationships, and in the gospel that He might be made known to all those with whom you speak. Trust fully in His provision, for your security lies not in internships or return offers, but in the scars upon the body of Christ where He bled for you.

To the Sophomore, almost halfway:

You are hopefully, by now, firmly established. You have rhythms, routines, in-groups, and confidence. Please do not settle. The Enemy makes a living by comforting Christians into complacency. Acknowledge that the battle rages always and fight against the lies. You, who have thus far been the beneficiary of nurturing upperclassmen, will soon take upon yourself the responsibility of nurturing others. Do not get haughty, but in humility live such that those who look to you are turned to Christ and the work He has done in you.

To the Freshman, just beginning:

It doesn’t go by as quickly as they say, but it does end pretty abruptly. You’ll spend a lifetime here before you realize you only have five weeks left. So live the lifetime! Enjoy the newfound realities of the life with which you’ve been blessed. Find God in everything, for “The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Pray all the time and set your priorities now before rhythm becomes an obstacle to overcome. Trust God in all things for He is the Good Father.

Now, like the third quarter of every home football game, it’s time for some toasts.

First, to the University of Pennsylvania. My home for the last four years, and the place God has chosen to use me, alongside an army of fellow believers, to proclaim His gospel to a lost people. 

Second, to my friends. Every one of you has revealed to me a more comprehensive understanding of the character of God.

Finally, to the Rock of Ages. The God of Abraham, Him through whom all things were made. He who was and is and is to come. To Him who will one day make all things new and who died to save me. For His love, mercy, and grace to us, I raise a toast to the only One who is truly,


Leave a Reply