“The Christian life is fundamentally a life of endurance and therefore we must live in hope.” Ligon Duncan
There are a number of things Harvard graduates tell their children. One of them will probably never be, “the school I went to has closed down now.”
But I didn’t attend Harvard. And the school I did attend is closing down at the end of June. Someday I will have to tell my children that my college no longer exists.
We are often called the Post Christian Era. Some parts of raising children do not seem all that different from my own childhood. But at times, the culture of churches, schools, and societies can seem like we’ve transported to a different universe from the one in which I was raised. A friend and I chatted recently about how we went to four church services a week as children and now ours go to one or two. We discipline differently. We disciple them differently. We try to use terminology that corrects but gives grace. We have new issues to explain when it comes to loving our neighbor, issues that didn’t exist when I was a child. Elementary, middle, and high school education are encountering new challenges in the public and private sectors, due to regulations, costs, and consumer needs. How and where Christians direct their children for higher education in the future will likely be quite a different process from the past. None of these issues are negative things, in light of God’s sovereignty. They are simply new issues. Sometimes I feel I am navigating through uncharted waters everyday with my children. I am holding onto a life preserver, hoping for a good outcome. I sometimes feel unsure of the future results, and cling to Christ to guide my stewardship.
Many Christians want to despair that our schools are closing and churches are shrinking and we are losing ground between good and evil. But, we cannot forget Who is our hope. There is no reason to retreat and hide. The sky is not falling. The sky simply has a different weather pattern floating through today and it has not taken God by surprise. It is good, in some respects, to be thrown and tossed culturally. It is good to experience shifts and have to re-establish our paradigms and philosophies. Generational changes make us own what we believe. They makes us test what we are told and search the Scriptures for truth. We are forced out of softly padded pews and compelled to look at the Cross and not man, not at institutions.
I thought carefully and intentionally before going to school there. I thought long and hard after I graduated about why I attended there.
It was always a small school. When my husband and I were dating, after I had graduated, I drove him through the campus. He asked where the rest of the school was. And I laughed. And he said, “I was being serious.” I stopped laughing. I had planned to attend a Christian college most of my life. At the last minute I panicked, auditioned and was accepted to a large music school in the Northeast. Then I opted to go to Florida. The friendships I made and the growth that began there stay with me today. I have a short list of professors whose kindness, friendship, inspiration, and wisdom have traveled with me. I would venture to say much of their influence still shadows my path, everyday perhaps. After graduating, I had little connection to the institution as a whole, but the individuals who once made up a collective organization have remained a part of my life, both directly and indirectly.
People who spent good years of their lives there may feel like they wasted time. But there is a quiet current pushing and traveling far beyond the walls of a school. Our world goes forward minus a few Christian colleges this fall. But the graduates of these schools are there, most raising their children, serving Christ, worshipping in other places, influencing the world in various ways. In my own home, my children benefit from my education. It was in college that my faith deepened, I learned to appreciate people different from me, I started to understand why I loved the arts and beauty and how those things connected to God. God raises up and determines times. He calls us. He used willing people to teach us and now He strengthens us to continue in the things we have learned. We should be hopeful because we can cling to Christ, not manmade ideas. Perhaps in one era ending, a new one is quietly growing, surging nearby, and we are able to be part of it. Perhaps in losing a culture we once knew well, what we anchored ourselves to, we are being given the chance to walk on water with our eyes on Christ, rather than on the waves. He has never been shaken through time.
I am grateful for those who touched my life. I am glad to know God raised them up in his appointed time and intersected their lives with my own. I know my children will be better for the lives that touched mine. Our rescuer is Christ, and there is nothing that surprises Him. He has already done battle against the snake. He has already won. And one day in the future, the goodness that triumphed as He walked away from the Tomb will be made clear. I grasp hope, knowing that on every path we blindly encounter, an unchanging God has walked ahead, lighting the way.