Working at Free Lutheran Bible College, there is nothing more encouraging than simply hanging out with students outside of class hours.
Throughout the year, I interact with students in various ways through my communications role, but I’m often sitting on the sidelines, observing from a distance what God is doing in their lives.
This in itself is a huge blessing. Saying we have a wonderful, loving community here is an understatement. In the decade since I graduated from FLBC, I have found little else that even comes close.
In saying that, I don’t mean to gloss over the hurts and disagreements that happen as a result of 100+ people living in close proximity to each other, because that’s still there. But even the struggles often end up making those friendships that much deeper and sweeter for those who are willing to overcome the challenges.
To close out this school year, dorm staff put together a “field day” with pickup games of kickball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, board games, food, and a student-led vespers service in the library.
That day, I went from chatting with a couple guys about their homework to running back and forth on the soccer field with a quarter of the student body playing ultimate frisbee. After that we headed to the library to sing heartfelt praises to the faithful God who got us all through another year.
These students might not realize it, but they’ve been a huge blessing to me, and though they haven’t left yet, I’m already feeling the void they will leave behind after graduation.
While our students are sure to face new and bigger challenges once they leave here, their praises to God don’t come from naive, easy Christian lives. Their faith has already been tested. Some by family problems, some by loneliness and depression, some by crushing guilt, some by breakups, some by living on their own for the first time. The fact that they can sing praises to God at the end of a year that was filled with those things is a testimony that God is indeed faithful.
An emerging theme towards the end of this year has been looking for the “Ebenezers” in our lives—the moments in the past where God proved himself to be faithful. AND THE STUDENTS HAVE SO MANY STORIES! I get to hear how God has been personally faithful to them in the hardest parts of their lives so far.
They remind me to look back on my own life and remember how God has been faithful to me. This gives me confidence that he will continue to be faithful through future challenges.
Another way the students have ministered to me this year is through the music itself. Every week I get to hear students lead worship in our chapel services. I am going to miss that so much this summer!
In the past, there has often been some friction between how young people and their parents’ generation like to sing praises to God. But in the last 5 years, a new generation of song writers have emerged and closed the gap between hymns and “worship music”. If you’re skeptical, I would encourage you to explore the wealth of new hymnody emerging—and I’d be happy to give you song recommendations.
I will end this post the way we ended the vespers service that night. This song has become a new favorite of mine thanks to hearing it often in chapel this year. While it uses the dreaded “I” that is so often discouraged in worship music, this song is not “me” centered at all. It’s a deeply personal confession of the experienced goodness of God.
I love You, Lord
Oh Your mercy never fails me
All my days
I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh I will sing of the goodness of God
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night
You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a Father
I’ve known You as a friend
I have lived in the goodness of God
All my life You have been faithful
All my life You have been so so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh I will sing of the goodness of God
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