When I went into work on Thursday two weeks ago, hoots and hollers and happiness associated with the coming fall break permeated my small campus. Only one more day of classes. Only one more shift. But campus was different after that shift. A few short hours after leaving the atmosphere of total excitement, I returned to one of silence and darkness. Anyone who spoke did it with hushed, somber voices. Everyone stepped carefully, nobody quickly. I didn’t know him, but my heart yearned for my friends who lost their friend that day.
None of us wanted to think about what the death of a fellow student meant, but we all walked a little closer and hugged a little longer. As is the normal response in such a situation, we all started thinking a little too much. I’m very prone to worry on a normal day, but in a time such as this, I don’t want to leave the sides of those I love. That’s hard, since I love people in many different parts of the world! So, the next day, we prayed and parted ways and headed home for fall break.
I thought about what happened all weekend. I prayed for the family. I loved on my family and checked in with my friends often. I’m glad to report that we made it back from break safely, and the campus we returned to was all the better. It continues to heal, but joy is catching. Classes resumed the following Wednesday, and my day started off with Chapel. A couple of faculty members and our awesome president spoke a few words and then encouraged us to keep on truckin’. I felt for the speaker that day knowing it had to be hard to follow such an event with any sort of sermon to 3000 hurting (or at the very least, affected) strangers. But Tony Nolan pretty much beasted it.
By the end of his explication of John 3:16, I was seriously sad. Nolan talked about death, hell. He didn’t make any bones about their reality. I’ve always known those are real. I don’t want to die yet, but I wouldn’t say that I fear it. Honestly, I was just straight tired of being reminded how mortal everyone I love is. I wanted hugs and lots of them. Even with Heaven as the destination, I’m not ready to lose my people! I just wanted to stop being scared.
But Nolan definitely brought the morning to a close with a bang. He presented the gospel beautifully and, most importantly, truthfully. He accurately described what it means to give your life to God and fully live for him. And then he gave the invitation. But he didn’t let people stand at their seats with their hands up and eyes closed. They proclaimed their decision before men. Nolan explained that just cuz you didn’t walk forward doesn’t mean you can’t be saved. He explained that walking forward doesn’t save you. I can’t really explain the whole scene, but it was beautiful. It was beautiful as everyone opened their eyes and cheered and clapped and hollered for these people that just joined the family. And that feeling of dread was replaced by one of excitement.
We left Chapel 35 minutes late. But I’m not sure that anyone minded too awful much. Ok, I’m sure some did. But, some got to skip their next class because of it. Others of us just lost out on some homework time. Either way, God moved. And when God moves, as far as I’m concerned, everything else can stop.
So, that week I learned to find balance. Treasure the time we have, but don’t stress about when it will end. I’ll never be in control of that.