As a campus minister, I have been asked many times, “What do you do in the summer?”
There are those who think I take the summer off since students are gone for the most part, but of course that is not the case.
Life is a little slower and time is more flexible, but I assure you there is plenty to do. The month of May especially is a time to regroup, refresh and refocus.
In early May, I and many other campus ministers attended the Collegiate Summit in Hendersonville, TN, and one of the speakers, Trevin Wax, shared some thoughts from his book Rethink Yourself.
I read the book after returning home and enjoyed hearing some fresh thoughts. His emphasis is on “the power of looking up before looking in” – focus on God first.
While the focus of this book was on my mind this week, I attended two funerals. The first was Jim O’Neal, a 96-year-old man who lived a godly life to his last breath.
I thought of Jim when I read the following line in Wax’s book: “The good way of displaying yourself is when your acts of love and mercy and justice reflect the character of God, so that when people see your goodness, they praise Him [God].”
The pastor and deacons of FBC Troy went to visit Jim and share communion with him a few days before his death, and the pastor asked him, “Is there anything you would like to share?”
With shortness of breath, his response was “He is faithful, He is faithful, He is faithful.” Jim spent his life looking up then looking around to serve others and, through it all, found a faithful God.
The second loss this week was the unexpected, tragic death of the mother of a Troy University student. While looking at the many young faces in the crowd, I was reminded of the importance of our ministry to the college campus.
Our culture is leading our children to look within themselves, to create their own truth.
From this perspective, as Wax states, “you’ll make God in your image rather than accept that you’re made in His. You’ll define God as you want Him to be rather than discover God as He actually is.”
I was thankful to have the opportunity to share at the funeral our need to look up to begin each day and to trust God for his guidance and peace.
As the summer moves on through June and July, we will have the opportunity to meet many of the students who will be coming to campus in the fall.
We will form connections, and when August hits we will begin to share in the excitement and fast pace of a new school year.
Our goal is to be spiritually prepared, physically refreshed and mentally alert to share the Good News of Christ.
Our message is to look up and see anew and to deeply know the loving God who sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins. To focus our eyes on the One who gives hope in a troubled world.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV).
Another death earlier in the month which impacted our family was the suicide of a young man who lost hope. There are many others like him who do not know where to find hope and are looking only within or have shut their eyes to the possibility of a holy God.
Thankfully, on many of our Alabama campuses through Baptist Campus Ministries working with local churches, hope in Christ is being shared with the desire to “Reach Every Student.”
God, we pray you will raise up many more persons like Jim O’Neal, who will look up to know you, and then be ready to look around and respond to the needs before them. God, give us eyes that see the hurting and hopeless, and may we be faithful to share so others can glorify you.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV).