A blessing for graduates

As parting words for graduating seniors, I can’t go wrong paraphrasing Kuyper. As he so eloquently puts it in his address to college faculty and students, “Now get the hell outta here . . . and get the hell outta there . . . and get the hell outta every other square inch you can find, because hell doesn’t belong here.” I’m sure you’ve heard the quote before, probably from a different translation. It may have been something along the lines of this: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!”

I’ll admit that this translation may work a bit better for banners and brochures. It doesn’t, however, capture the context of Kuyper’s original quote. His statement was never intended to be a no-boundaries blank check. It was intended to describe a world that has no vacancy. Every square inch is currently occupied, but often not by the rightful owner . . . not yet.

Remember, “every square inch” isn’t just Reformed-speak. I have a hunch that quoting Kuyper is popular in both heaven and hell. In fact, it’s precisely this quote that causes the great divide. The battle rages over how to interpret that troublesome word Mine. Do you see what we are up against? The war doesn’t look to let up soon and we are all tired.

Final exams loom on the horizon and I’m getting older.

Our motivations wane.

But God remains excessively ambitious. All indications are that God is still very serious about completely renovating “the works.” This includes you and me and absolutely everything else he created. Do you see what an immense project this is? As if we need one more thing on our plate!

The timing couldn’t be worse.

‘Resurrection anxiety’

I know I am supposed to tell you to go out and change the world this summer. I’m not going to stop you from doing so. But I do want to warn you that there is a risk of contracting a serious case of cosmic redemption anxiety disorder (also known as acute resurrection anxiety) along the way. I’ve had it. That’s not very encouraging, I suppose.

So let me suggest an antidote to resurrection anxiety. It comes from the book of Ecclesiastes.  Ecclesiastes begs to be read alongside Kuyper. Here are a few verses to illustrate:

Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise – why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool – why die before your time? (Eccl. 7:16-17).


However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many (11:8).


For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die (2:16).

OR . . . particularly fitting for this last week . . .

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body (12:12b).

In other words, Ecclesiastes can be summarized in three and a half words.

You’re not God.

Have you reminded yourself of that lately? That’s the best antidote for cosmic redemption anxiety disorder. Remember, all of the honest reality and earthy wisdom of Ecclesiastes is sandwiched between a single repeated theme (as rendered by Calvin Seerveld in Voicing God’s Psalms). The theme is this:

God picks up the pieces.

That phrase echoes at the beginning (Eccl. 3:15) and the end (Eccl. 12:14). When all is said and done . . .

God picks up the pieces.

So by all means, do your best to get the hell outta here, and there, and wherever God calls you. There is nothing more worthwhile than bringing light to dark places. But don’t worry if after all your efforts the world is still a mess. Continue to study, work and laugh. But don’t forget.

You’re not God.

He’s gonna pick up the pieces. It’s all his.


  • Ethan Brue

    Ethan Brue is an engineer who has previously served in the electric power and biotech industries. He is currently serving as a Professor of Engineering at Dordt College, where he teaches courses in mechanical engineering and the history of technology. He and his wife and three children live in Sioux Center, Iowa.

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