As part of residence life training last week, all of us student staff members embarked on a three-day camping trip: sleeping in tents, cooking over a fire, hiking in the woods, kickball in a field, signs/psychiatrist/similar games around the fire -- the entire stereotypical, splendid shebang! The greatest joy of the trip, though, proved what was not stereotypical.
On Saturday morning, we all set out into the woods by ourselves for seven hours of solo time. Yep. Seven hours. Alone. In the wilderness. (Well, as wild as South Dakota can be.) I brought only my Bible, my journal, Clarence (my panda bear Pillow Pet), a list of all the girls who will be living on my wing, and a readiness to spend time in prayer over each girl by name.
I speak for all staff members when I say that the time was rich. Rich, rich, rich, rich, rich. How often do we eliminate all distractions and spend extended, intentional time asking for God’s blessings over something? I know I’ve never done that before, at least not for such a focused period of time. Having now experienced the power of such focused intentionality, though, I plan to allot for more extended time with God in my semester’s routine. Something special happens when you talk to God for so long that you run out of things to say and are forced to simply listen.
In my seven-hour conversation with God, six words kept finding their way to my lips, and God keeps affirming those six words.
I prayed that my girls would have courage and confidence, knowing that they are lovely, that they are capable, and that they will find the most lively sort of life if they take initiative in seeking it out.
I prayed that my girls would have peace and perseverance, knowing that God has placed them here at Dordt, on their unique wing, with their unique roommate, in their unique courses, etc. with a specific, unique purpose in mind. The fun part is watching this purpose, which seems like a disembodied concept right now, taking on a body and beginning to breath in day-to-day life.
I prayed that my girls would have desire and discipline in loving one another well, knowing that everyone has a story, that everyone has bits of beauty to share if you simply pursue that beauty.
So, to each and every freshman, know that you have been prayed over by name. We are so excited that you are here, and we are so ready for all of our stories to intersect as we continue to realize the larger story God has written for all of creation.
And, to each student despite grade level, be zealous this year. Love your roommates. Love your classmates. Love your professors. Love your coursework. Love your major. Love your God. Love this year.
Let’s love wholeheartedly this school year, and let’s see what God does with it. Okay?