Thursday, August 28, 2008

Preparing for a new semester

Unlike my former institutions, we as faculty members at Calvin College prepared ourselves for a new semester with "Fall Conference." We met at the chapel; all faculty and staff members were invited. I sat with Glen, my colleague who has been retired (I am actually his replacement). As I stepped into the chapel, I immediately thought of my first time visiting this place during the interview. As soon as I stepped into this place back then, I fell in love with it. I loved the fact that the chapel was a place I could run to meditate and pray.

Andy DeJong, our chaplain, invited us to the worship by saying: "Be still, be still... be still, and know that I am God." Be still? I asked. You (God) knew that I have had restless days to prepare syllabi, adjust to this new environment, prepare sermons to lead two-day retreat tomorrow, and other incomplete tasks. I could calm myself down when I get some of these things done, but not now, LORD. I really need to get things done. I am not quite prepared for tomorrow and new semester; plus, my daughter needs to see a doctor today, and I am stuck in the chapel. Provost and other colleagues made quick presentations, but my mind wasn't there.

At that moment, Lee Hardy, a colleague in Philosophy, walked to the podium and explained something. I was still ruminating other things and I could not quiet myself to listen to him carefully. However, I heard him saying that he wrote the text with other colleagues and someone else composed a song. So it seemed that Lee Hardy was introducing the text he wrote. I found that the text was printed in the handout:

LORD, to You Our Hand and Heart We Offer (title)

We stand in the grand arena of God, the Glorious One!
LORD help this academy demonstrate the wisdom of Your ways
The law of the LORD is perfect, informing all we do;
Word of Life for all,
Help for those who fall, guiding the way through the cross to truth and peace.

LORD, open our eyes to see you in nature's hand I work,
to marvel at how your hand leads in all of human history.
Renew our minds, O Spirit, so oft with darkness filled;
Flood our work with light
to re-create our sight, so we may serve as the steward of your world


LORD, to You our hands and hearts we offer
Keep us faithful to your call, we pray
With the rigor of our minds--
We'll serve you all our best for you!

LORD, to You our hands and hearts we offer;
Keep us faithful to your fall, we pray
Guide us in the work that brings your Kingdom, as we rest in you!

I wasn't sure how they came up with this text. However, I did know that the text pointed to our logo (see the second pic above). A music professor sang first to help us learn the song for a person like me. As she sang, each word somehow reminded me of the sleepless night when I finally accepted Calvin's offer. After a long wrestling on that night, I realized that it was God's call to serve Calvin College that I had to offer my heart, intellect, experience, family, and anything I had.

With this song/text, I was able to remember the call. Yes, I was supposed to be still there and know that the One who called me to this place was God. With this realization, my heart and mind got really quiet; I was able to be still... and know that He (who called me) is God. I left the chapel with peace, confidence, and humility.

LORD, I exalt YOU. Please continue to help me remember your call.