In the midst of Advent, my mind keeps returning to the theme of light birthed in the darkness. Hope arrives not on fairy dust and wings, but through weeping, loss and pain—through childbirth, of all things—excruciating and beautiful at the same time.
When we moved into our house, my mother-in-law gave us a little potted plant. Impatiens plants are appropriately named. They are impatient for water and wilt if not watered frequently. In the stress of our move, I neglected the plant for weeks. The flowers fell off and it turned deathly brown. I almost threw it away, but decided to water it and see what happens.
Haskell Indian Nations University is an all-Native school that was once a source of great pain for Native people. It was one of many boarding schools aimed at forcing Native children to assimilate, often through means of abuse. This once boarding school has been turned into a four-year university to serve only Native students. Students that attend here are very spiritual and love the Creator. Jesus, however, is a whole different story.
Try this experiment. First, think about something important you love to do. Whether it’s in your career, in your major, or in your free time, envision yourself doing something incredibly meaningful to you. (If you’re thinking of ministry, you’re the best, but you’re getting ahead of me — for the sake of the exercise, pick something else, you wonderful over-achiever.)
As laborers in the harvest field, we work and sweat, hoping for a positive result from what we plant. Then there are the many months of silence and stillness in the winter months in-between the sowing and reaping seasons. Psalm 130 speaks of the journey of waiting in those dark, cold months for God to come through with the light of spring.
Recently, I came across a photo of our house about the time we moved in. Except for a different color paint on the house, the house looked about the same. However, over those thirty years the lawn, bushes and trees had gone through significant changes. Any given year one would not see the change. Over thirty years the change is very obvious. In a similar vein, if I look back at any given year in the 46 years I have been involved in InterVarsity (four years as an IV student at Florida State, one year as volunteer staff in New England and 41 years in the Blue Ridge Region), I do not usually recognize significant changes in one particular year. However, over those 46 years there have been significant changes.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” - John 12:23-25
What happens in the soil, in dark places between sowing and reaping—in the waiting between fall and spring, between death and resurrection? If the viewer was able to peek into the darkness where a seed is buried, one could glimpse it unfolding from death to life. But often we don’t get to witness this miracle.
Black History Month is behind us and I can’t help but think about the murky future that is yet to unfold before us as a nation. Eight years ago, I could not have anticipated the extent to which we would regress in terms of racial relations. I had been the second in my family to earn a graduate degree. My recent appointment as a Staff Member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was, for me, an accomplishment. Eight years ago, I had been the only Black male on campus staff in the region at the time and felt well received. That year, we also witnessed the election of the first Black U.S. President. We had come so far, eight years ago.
I’ve always been drawn to the seemingly magical opportunities afforded by technology. Some of my earliest and happiest memories were watching my dad play Space Invaders on an Atari console and exploring the capabilities of MS-DOS on the family’s first home computer. I will forever remember the sound of the dial-up modem connecting us to the world. More than twenty years later I still exchange Christmas cards with the first friend I ever made online.
The blog is an avenue for staff and student leaders to hear from the visionary leaders of Collegiate Ministries about theological formation, discipleship, chapter planting, chapter growth, and other key ministry themes for campus work.