Four years at a place called Hope and the Lord has mercifully peeled back some of my scales.
For in these years, the invisible hand has proved to be the only hand that never fails. His strong and tender hands were the only ones strong enough and wide enough to lift my head. His arms carried me more than times than I can count. His staff lead when I rejected Him as my shepherd. He was good when I was breaking. He was busy mending when I was tearing.
His pruning (John 15:2) was often unseen and I was often ignorant to His shearing. The Father’s hand worked though professors who cared for me deeply and friends who will always be loved more than words can say. He was faithful and never changing. When my spirit felt dry and my mouth was parched, He always drew me close.
I look back and I can scarcely take in His mercies.
He gave me a job and with this another family.
He gave me brothers and sisters who sharpened and blessed me.
He gave me a place.
He gave me chaplains who knew me by name and preached the word of Christ without shame and without fear.
He also gave me trials.
Yes, for what can come but that which He has decreed? He let them come and guided me through the sleepless nights. He strengthened my faith and showed me the importance of brothers and sisters. For at times, my dear friends, I could not lift my head. And yet, my brothers and sisters, you came and comforted me. His staff reached through each of you and brought me joy. Know this: My heart thanks God for you daily.
He gave me people to love. Some of them were easy to love and a joy to embrace. Others were hard to love and I often grew impatient, bitter, and resentful. Yet, He gave both to me that I would see my hopeless condition. For, I learned that I could not love without His love. I cannot embrace another with a pure heart without trusting His pierced hands.
He gave me green pastures. More than this he “made me lie down in them”(Ps. 23). He showed me and is indeed, still patiently showing me how to rest. For my heart is fickle and my hands grow tired quickly. My mind is only known to Him and I need rest more than my prideful spirit acknowledges. Yet, this rest is unique and true. His rest is not cyclical but it is a peaceful and steadfast way of life. His Spirit does not invite rest only when the moon finds its place in the sky, but rather we are invited to rest in Him all the day long.
He gave. Oh, He is the giver of all good things and for this season I will lift my hands in praise. My heart is sad that I will not see the people of Hope come August. I have sincere anguish in my heart. It is right that I should feel such grief when the soil of Hope College that sits in Holland, Michigan will never feel the same underneath my feet.
Yet, the soil of hope that is Christ will never change. The place of Hope and the people of Hope have encouraged me to plant and grow deep roots in this soil. I will miss your kind words, your soft smiles and your warm hearts. Yet, we will all unite again. We are now scattered to be a witness to the true Hope. We are sent to sow seeds of living and breathing Hope.
Let us not grow faint, people of Hope.
Let us send roots down deep and rest in Christ who is our true Hope.