Armstrong, Lilyanna.JPG

Tonight, I say thank you. To each and every one of my teachers, to the administration sitting behind me, to my class of peers sitting amongst me, and to my home that was the band, thank you. To my parents, for your immeasurable and invaluable support, and to my siblings, for your eternal companionship, thank you. But above all else, I say thank you to our God, for the only reasons I stand before you tonight are because I have a God, we have a God, that loves me without condition every evening when I rest my head, every morning when I wake. The only reason I stand here having overcome doubts and worries that are heavier than anything else I have ever carried or perfectionism that has gnawed relentlessly at the back of my mind, or having overcome obsessions and compulsions that have wreaked havoc amongst my thoughts, yes, the only reason I have overcome any of this is because I have a God who has already overcome such weights for me. You see, we have a God that sent His own flesh to this earth to die the death you and I deserve, to take to the grave any sin we may ever commit and any pain we may ever feel on a daily basis. We have a God who lived a faultless life, but because His love for us is ever-enduring, He died our tragic death. And every single day He dies our tragic death. Every day when I wake, our God is ready and willing and happy to fight my battles, to take to the grave my sin, my filth, and my pain. 

And so I cannot help but thank the sole power that cleans my kitchen, per se. You see, in the past four years, or 18 really, I have been searching for where God works. Because of this, I have found where the devil works. And I have found that the devil resides in the Braum’s kitchen. Now, you and I both know that the Braum’s kitchen is wretched. Its floors are fractured into shards of archaic tile and its counters stained with the blood of old cherries and melted ice cream. Yet somehow, without hesitation, Braum’s is my go-to ice cream shop. I have allowed myself to return to the wretched kitchen countless times to get my favorite double-scoop chocolate. And this is where I say, the devil resides in the Braum’s kitchen because the devil is the puppeteer of deception. In the same way that Braum’s produces an esteemed product from a place entirely characterized by disgust, the devil dangles in front of us temptingly tasteful products that come not from love, but from falsehood and deception.

The alarming thing is that the Braum’s kitchen exists in abundance, in our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, and relationships. In these kitchens, the devil builds up piles of dirty dishes full of precarious and outright dangerous lies that steal from us our beauty, our value, and our purpose. And so, there we are, stuck in the kitchens where dirty, encrusted dishes are piled so high that at any moment, they all might just collapse. At any point, our entire world might erupt, and the lack of love and of truth that built up the pile becomes the ruling factor in our life. And crazily enough, our dishes collapse every day. Our worlds erupt every day. 

So then I ask, why don’t we clean our kitchen? Why do we let the devil steal our purpose and value from us? It is because we cannot clean our kitchen. Our human weakness is just not enough. Again I say thank you to our God, for His love is so strong that His greatest desire is to clean our kitchens. All it takes is to call Him in, to accept His love, and He will clean every bit of filth, of pain, of sin, and of falsehood out of our life. He will bring the soap, the sponge, and the blood necessary to clean us pure. All it takes is for us to say “Come in.” 

And so, as we embark on a new period in our lives, we must ask ourselves, are we ready to let God come in and clean our kitchen? Are we willing to surrender our dreams and plans to His will? Are we ready to carefully examine the tantalizing treats dangling in front of us so that we may steer clear of the devil’s deception? For we are now, more than ever before, in charge of these decisions. I implore you to rid yourself of the devil, to let God in, to clean your kitchen, and just see what happens. Thank you. 

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