Fresno Pacific has been a true learning community for me during the past 25 years. I remember when I first heard about FPU in my last year of high school. Around January of my senior year, I asked my counselor “What is the closest Christian college?” I made up my mind almost immediately after he replied “Fresno Pacific University, it is about two hours away.” Growing up in the Valley I had a vague idea where Fresno was but knew nothing of the school, the city or the transformational process it offered, at that time I just knew that my car might be able to make the 119-mile trek on the 99 highway a few times a year.
On a hot August day, I arrived at FPU for my first fall and unpacked my carload of belongings into my living space, Strasbourg Module 2. At that time I did not know the term first-generation, but the reality of being the first in my family to attend college impacted me more than I understood. The language of a university: units, majors, minors, the registrar—were all foreign. My roommate that year was also a first-generation student and we would ask each other the questions we were afraid to ask others. I remember confirming, “So we really only attend our Tuesday-Thursday classes two times a week?” Together we began the understand the culture of this foreign place; we came to understand the daily, weekly, semesterly rhythms of a university.
I soon found there were also purposefully transforming rhythms at FPU which contributed to my spiritual growth throughout my time as an undergraduate student and beyond. Weekly module meetings when module parents prayed for us; twice a week when we walked to Butler church for College Hour; every Monday when the track team gathered in the back foyer of the gym for our devotional; and collegium gatherings both in our Jesus and the Christian Community class and outside of class time all became natural rhythms in my schedule. Far beyond a way to fill up a freshman’s schedule, they pointed us to the life of Christ and his teachings.
Romans 12:2 strongly reminds us:
“Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Now, 25 years after my journey at FPU first began, I serve as an associate professor in the School of Education. I see decisions made at all levels at FPU which contribute to our intentional rhythms and produce purposeful transformations. The university strategic map for 2019-2022 identifies five thematic goals: GROW Strategically, ENGAGE Collectively, INNOVATE Creatively, SERVE Courageously, TRANSFORM Purposefully. The fifth goal to transform purposefully is at the forefront of my thoughts as I reflect on the daily, weekly, semesterly and annual rhythms that are a part of my life.
As I write this I am sitting in a cabin among the redwoods in Santa Cruz, engaging in an annual rhythm. Each year we retreat to family camp to refresh and renew and the time away serves as a strong reminder that refinement in Christ is greatly determined by the rhythms of life. Our lives become a product of the rhythms we embrace. As we begin to think about the 2021-2022 school year my prayer is that we engage in purposeful transformational rhythms daily, weekly, semesterly and annually so that the life of Christ is seen in us and through us.