Sunday, March 25, 2012

Letter No. 2

Dear Fountainview Class of 2012,

Wow! Can you believe that there are 91 days till grad? That's 13 weeks, or about 3 months.

Before you read any further, I want you to temporarily forget that I'm an assistant dean—and still keep in mind that I have been with you all for the past 7 months of your senior year. Can we work with that? Yea? I'm an alumnus, a graduate of the class of 2011. I've been to school with y'all, laughed with y'all, played music with y'all, and picked up y'all's different ways of saying things. I've worked with most, prayed with some, cried with a few, and had meaningful conversations with many.

So then, let's get to the meaningful stuff.

The children of Israel were travelling in the Wilderness, on their journey to the Promised Land. A great pillar of cloud guided them by day, and a pillar of fire gave them light and protection by night. They could trust the pillar, because they knew the presence of God was in it. Wherever the pillar guided them, they went. Whenever it remained at camp, they stayed. And sometimes, the staying was more like waiting.

You and I are on a journey. God leads us like the pillar of cloud led the Israelites, through gorges and over rocky mountain passes, in deserts and by sweet waters. In any and every trial, God has provided for us, and brought us safely through. He has directed our paths where we should go, when we should go. I know each of you can look back and see how this is true in your own life. Too often we forget.

You know, I find this interesting: many times it is easy to follow God where He leads, but sometimes much harder to wait for Him to lead. I'm sure the Israelites wondered how much longer they had to stay at Mount Sinai after they had waited for almost a year. They wanted to get on to the Promised Land. But even after that necessary time of preparation and learning, when push came to shove, they weren't ready. Oh, how God longed to bring them speedily into the Promised Land! After waiting for so long at Sinai, however, they still complained about the difficulty of the way. Their perpetual stubbornness and distrust of God delayed them even longer, and at the end of 40 more years, they still did not trust God fully.

It is God's will for you to be here at Fountainview. If you don't believe this, then you better pack your bags and leave. God's cloud for you is resting here; this is where He has led you. I know, because I've experienced this myself, that if you look back at what He has done in your life since coming here, you will see threads woven into the tapestry of your life, and glimpses of a beautiful picture. You will see that even the dark threads have their part. You will also see that the picture is far from complete. He has taught you much; He is still teaching you. You have had many trials; I guarantee you there will be more. Last but not least, the many joyful experiences of the past 1, 2, 3, or 4 years are not over yet, either.

And so I appeal to you: Remember where you are.

Remember whose you are.

God has led you here, and you will never, ever find a place like Fountainview again. There may be similarities in other places, but Fountainview is unique.

The experiences you have here you will never have again.
The years you have lived here you will never live again.
(Keep in mind that this is true of any place God leads you.)

God is doing everything He can to make you ready for the next step, and ultimately, ready for the Promised Land. Right now—right here.


Savour it while you can. 

Don't let there be any reason for regret.

And when the cloud finally leads you on, trust God. He may stop at the most inconvenient times, or go through the most uncomfortable places, but you can trust and wait patiently for the God who has led you faithfully in the past, and who will continue to do so in the future.

Because He loves you.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Thought From a Friend to You

Well, dear friends, I meant to share this earlier, but just didn't get around to it. Maybe someone needs to read it more now than then...

Another one of my favourite writers and friends posted this very thought-provoking blog post a couple of weeks ago. I hope it blesses you as it blessed me.

Spreading Sunshine: The Master of the Wind: As we gathered in the inner cabin to begin sundown worship, I scrambled up into the loft, perching myself precariously on the tilted window ...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Only Thing

"The only thing I'm going to wish my life away for is Heaven."

I was sitting on the bus with my friend Esther, driving back from our Chiliwack concert. Somehow we got started talking about grad, and she asked me all about how it works and what happens with the candle-passing and on and on. I showed her pictures. I told her what transpires. I tried to convey feelings—both of the juniors and the seniors. And inevitably, I ended up telling her one of my favourite stories.

It's the story of a group of teenagers. A bunch of unkind, drama-affected sophomores who were only slightly more mature the next year. A cliquey junior class of non-leaders, from which hardly a positive influence resulted. Until one day. Or many days. In a journey of ups and downs, of resentful feelings and piercing convictions, of broken then mended friendships, of prayer and effort, of awkward meetings then family time, of laughter and tears, of spider webs and charcoal, of gowns and purple, this once dysfunctional and disunited class became a family, close and tried. 

And none of them can take any credit for it whatsoever. It was God working in their individual lives, directing them to make an effort towards a higher standard of friendship, service, unity—of love—that made their class what it was. It was only as God individually refined them in the fire (and trust me, there was fire for each of them), that they drew closer to each other in drawing closer to God. It could only be a miracle. It was only God's grace. God's amazing grace. It's an experience that none of them would trade for anything else.

My friend Esther and I realized all over again the need to savour the time we have where God has placed us. To enjoy our current experience while it still current. Because the phrase, "One day, this too shall pass," unavoidably applies in the good times as well as the hard times. And too often, we don't realize how good the times are until they are past. Thankfully, God taught me this well enough so that I did savour most of my experiences last year. And He is still teaching me to seek and soak up every last drop of joy as it passes by. It's hard when you feel like you're squeezing awful hard, but you'll be glad when you can look back and have no regrets. 

I am not going to wish my life away. The future is inviting and exciting. But it will come when it comes, and when it does, it will only be present for a second, and then it will be past. Just think, the present used to be the future that you once looked forward to. And now, 5 seconds after you read that, it became the past. This is how life rolls, no matter how slow or fast we want it to go. Why wish it away and miss the blessing of today—and the privilege of the moment?

There is one thing, though, that I will wish my life away for. I wish I could skip years of my "joyful" life here on earth if it meant being in Heaven with Jesus sooner. Heaven is the only thing I will wish my life away for—the only thing.

I want to go to Heaven, and pick a never fading flower,
From the mountain overlooking the temple of my God.
I want to go to Heaven, where all is light and glory,
How I long to be with Jesus! How I long to be with God!

Some times I think that I could stay here no longer.
I feel very lonely here, for I have seen a better land!
Oh! That I had wings like a dove,
Then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

An Old Photo

Original Photographer: Ceri Christiansen

A Prayer

Dear Father in Heaven,

Lord, it’s such a beautiful day today. I can really feel spring in the air, and the sun is coming out. Thank you so much for this wonderful place and this wonderful weather.

But Lord, You know what’s really on my heart today. I really miss my class, Lord. I think it’s the changing seasons and the nearness of grad. I can’t really put it into words. I know You know, though. Before You formed me in the womb, You knew me. You know the desires of my heart. And before I call, You will answer.

I have so many memories attached to this time of year. It makes me long for the time when there will be no more separation, no more distance, no more goodbyes. I guess that means that I long for Heaven. Deep in the depths of my soul, Lord, this is what it comes down to. I’m homesick for Heaven. I can’t shake it, nor would I want to. Now that I realize once again the true nature of the longings of my sometimes lonely heartnow that I see that it is Heaven (and ultimately, You) that I miss—it adds warmth and hope to the yearning inside. I pray that you would always remind me of this, and that you would fuel it in the direction of Heaven.

But now I’m reminded of Your promise, that You will not drink of the fruit of the vine until You drink it with us in Heaven. You must long for that day even more than we ever could. I mean, You invested Your eternal life just to gain even the possibility of having that experience with us. If I think of my nostalgic, reminiscent emotions right now, and multiply it by the worth of Your eternal life, I gain just a slight taste of how You feel about us.

I know You look forward to that great day. And I can hardly wait. In the meantime, Lord, thank You for being my Best Friend who will never leave, never change, and never be far away. Help me be so towards You as well.

                                                                     In Jesus’ name,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Job 23:10-11

“But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His steps;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.”
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