Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Another semester begins...
...but not just another semester. When we last left the academic calendar at the University of Alabama, the school and its surroundings were in chaos. The city of Tuscaloosa had just been ravaged by a monster tornado and any idea of rebuilding was almost inconceivable. The day after the tornado, the school announced an early end to spring semester. And the process of picking up the pieces began.
From what I can tell, amazing progress has been made over the summer. There is a long way to go, but we have learned that our state and the city are both filled with resilient people. And more importantly, there is a big, big God watching over us and leading the healing process.
So tomorrow, classes begin again. And another step in the healing process commences. No doubt it will be a hard day for many students and faculty. I pray for them that God would fill them with grace and a sense of his comfort as they try to build a "new normal".
And I also pray for my three nieces who are students there. I am so proud of them. From the moment the tornado struck, I started hearing from them nothing but compassion for their neighbors and fellow students. Their heart is in their chosen city, and it shows.
So tomorrow they begin classes. For two of them, it is the 4th year of college and so they enter the home stretch of their chosen fields of study. They are beginning to think about the implications for their careers - classes are not just classes anymore. For the youngest, she enters her second year and begins to move from freshman requirements into classes that are more relevant to her field. I pray for God to give them a sense of calm and the fact that he is in control of their futures.
For all of them, they continue to navigate the the dangerous waters of living for Christ in the midst of college hedonism. We all know that college is a place where so many young people exercise their new found freedom to live for themselves and, more specifically, their pleasure. Yes, it's a dangerous place for students who are not connected to the Vine, drawing their life daily from their relationship with Christ. But for those who are connected.... What. An. Opportunity. They can be the light of the world in the darkest of rooms, and make such a difference for friends who desperately need light.
And so I pray for Tuscaloosa. And I pray for the student body of the University. And mostly I pray for these three students whom I love so much. May you stay connected to your life source. May you stay close to friends are also connected. And may you do so in a way that spreads God's grace among your other friends, not bringing harsh judgment to them but the love of God.
Just like your aunt/mother did 30 years ago. I am so proud of you. May God grant you an amazing year.
And roll tide.