When our children are small we send them to a place called “kindergarten” or “children’s garden.” There they learn the beginning skills. And usually after a dozen years or so of preparation they come to us here in another garden where we refine their growth, encourage them to think and help them to find and prepare for their futures. I say “we,” because it takes all of us to make this place run. I repair lights and electrical; Mike, Lupe and Bobby mow and edge; Daniel and Tammy with their crew prepare our food; Steve, Marshall, Eleanor, Darren, Faith and others teach; Pam, Pastor Angulus and Melinda encourage and advocate for our students; and there are so many others.
Each of us gardens in our little corner of FPU. We water and weed and plant to better our students. For some the contact is the sharing of our lives and knowledge, while others work in the background so that it’s possible for professors and teachers to do their jobs. We do what we do as a part of the mission that gives our students a college education that purposely includes the God of the universe. With many voices, we blend and join in a song that reflects the hearts and souls of each of us as we serve our Lord. Like a choir, we sound our best when we use our skills and talents to contribute to the same chosen piece.
God set Adam in the garden so long ago and gave him direction. We need to listen for God’s direction. A conductor is needed to guide us from beginning to end with a unified vision of what we are trying to accomplish. And now we have a new head gardener/conductor. I believe Rich would say we are called to be “followers.” Dr. Joe comes to us with a vision from our board and yet he also brings history, skills and talents that will personalize what he does here. I’m confident God has prepared him for this leadership position. I’m equally confident God will teach Dr. Joe brand new, and perhaps even hard, lessons. God’s calling is a vapor in each of our lives, that hopefully whispers and guides and directs us.
I am 30 years into my journey here, and it’s not always easy. I catch myself grumbling too much about decisions made or not made, or what others do or don’t do. I can be prone to gossip. My 57-year-old body does not do as easily what my 27-year-old body could do. I’m supposed to know so many things that honestly when I forget “I’ve slept since then,” is my only excuse. I have records of lights changed many times and sometimes the repetition is wearisome. We all are human and will struggle, but we struggle together. We are “the Body of Christ” and we do this together. We aren’t in Eden anymore…perfection is marred and we sometimes limp in our quest to follow God, like Jacob who became Israel. Hold on tight to his purpose for you as you serve here. If your brother or sister stumbles, it may be your job to help them up. If the weeds in your area are growing too tall to see over “it’s on you” to ask your colleagues and your supervisor for help. Again, we’re in this together.
A final thought: when we do God’s work here or anywhere we do so at his pleasure. We are not guaranteed a job, a comfortable today, a rich earthly future or great success. If we are faithful to what is right, we may be called self-righteous. Do what’s right anyway. In Luke 20:9-19 there is a parable about a landowner who plants a vineyard (God), leases it to a caretaker (the Jewish nation), sends his emissaries to collect his percentage of the crop (prophets) and finally his son (Christ). The tenants abuse his emissaries and kill his son, thinking they will take ownership of the vineyard. But the owner destroys them and allows others to do his will in the vineyard. Remember, we are only caretakers here, and the responsibility is heavy, but as long as we are faithful, it is also rewarding. To paraphrase Hebrews 3:13—Encourage each other as long as there is a today.