What do golden orb spiders have to do with you 600 Andrews graduates this weekend?
What do golden orb spiders have to do with you 600 Andrews graduates this weekend? This past fall a shining piece of yellow-gold textile (11 ft x 4 ft) went on display in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Woven from the silk of more than a million wild female golden orb spiders, this rare cloth is a four year collaboration of seventy people searching telephone poles in Madagascar to collect the spiders (which bite), with another twelve workers gingerly extracting the silk filament from each of the arachnids (about 80 feet per spider). Weaving the 96-filament threads together resulted in “the only large piece of cloth made from natural spider silk existing in the world today.” (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/spider-silk/)
Why the fascination with spider silk? Because it’s “stronger than steel or Kevlar but far more flexible, stretching up to 40 percent of its normal length without breaking.” If science could mass produce spider silk, we could have fabric for biomedical scaffolds or perhaps an alternative to Kevlar armor. But so far we haven’t been able to replicate the spider’s stunning production that begins as liquid protein in a small gland in her abdomen. When she subsequently applies physical force to that liquid, she actually rearranges the protein’s molecular structure and turns it into solid silk, “stronger than steel!”
What’s all this have to do with you graduates today? Let me get a bit more personal now, since one of you is named Dwight Kirkpatrick Nelson (which means his mother and I are as excited as your parents over the incredible achievement that we’re celebrating together). For four years you’ve been the recipient of the “liquid protein” of a Seventh-day Adventist education. Semester after semester of information, knowledge, wisdom, experiment and experience have been poured into your bright minds. And tomorrow you receive the well-deserved accolades and recognition of your academic feat.
But as the golden orb spider reminds us, having reserves filled with liquid protein is one thing—producing shiny golden silk quite another. Which is why, like the spider, it will take the collusion of forces within you and around you—forces spiritual, social, intellectual and even physical—to weave a unique new silken tapestry out of your life—one you were destined for from the beginning. Choose the companionship of the God who has loved you from the day of your birth and guided you to this day of such accomplishment, and you can be certain your life tapestry and story will be woven with silk “stronger than steel.”
And so on behalf of your parents, who love you dearly and are very proud of you—and your professors and your campus pastors—let me send you into the uncharted adventure ahead with this unfailing promise: “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6 Message).