Fall 2005 State of the University Address
Serving Christ Outside the Lines continued
At his memorial service, in a room filled to capacity, many of us were surprised to also learn the daily regimen that Chip practiced with his wife, Irma, as he set out for each new day. Chip would rise early in the morning and go to a quiet place in his house to sit and listen to what God had for him to do that day. As God revealed name after name after name of people that Chip knew, he would faithfully write their name on a card until he had discerned that he had God’s marching orders for the day. Before he would leave the house, he would then ask Irma to lay her hands on him and pray a prayer that God would use him fully that day for His purposes.
Many of you in this room are recipients of Chip’s obedience to God. Many of us in this room and many students received phone calls from Chip in the middle of our day to remind us that we were a “precious child of God,” or to bring a word of truth, a question of concern, or simply a “yea” for God. Chip never told us that he had others to call; we always assumed we were one of those important agenda items for Chip that day. But in fact, Chip would not go home; he would not bring his day to an end until he had checked off each name on his list because he knew when he walked through the door, Irma would be standing there to ask him that question: “Did you accomplish God’s work today?” Chip would show her the card with each name checked off and say, “Yes, Babe, I got it done.”
To serve outside the lines is to dare to believe that God’s purposes for us matter each day. To serve outside the lines is to bring our best scholarship, our best service, and wrap it up in a package so that those we meet know that we serve a living God. One of Chip’s greatest legacies certainly is the Strengths-Based Education we unpack for our students. However, I believe his greatest legacy is the lesson he taught over and over again, that each of us is a “precious child of God.”
As we serve – outside the lines – in this radical place that God has placed us and gifted us to be, I think we should keep in mind that all of our students, undergrad, APS, and graduate, represent God’s treasure. They are priceless. They carry the redemptive power and hope of the Church. They come to us to gain a vision of who they are in relationship to the Gospel and what God wants them to do to make a difference in our world. Now don’t miss this: Every single one of us in this room leans into a Christ-centered mission; a Christ-centered purpose for our lives. Our students come to this university to discover that they have been called by God, and the purpose of their time at APU is to prepare to meet that call.
In Isaiah 6:8, we find one of the most powerful declarations in all of Scripture. God is looking for a person to represent him and his transformational power to his people. His voice booms from heaven, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah says, “Here am I. Send me!”
We serve outside the lines so that our students – all of them, undergraduate, APS, and graduate, will answer God’s call and say, “Here am I; send me.”
The responsibility to pass on biblical and theological truth does not rest exclusively with the faculty in the School of Theology. In fact, it rests with all of us. Each of us will be given golden opportunities with our students to speak or serve. It is my prayer that each of these student interactions will be powerful, teachable moments. Our students are able to respond to the call of God on their lives because we will respond to the call of God on our own life. I have seen you do it. I have seen each of you model God’s truth, His love in this biblically-functioning community we call APU. And so have they – these students sitting here tonight.
The point is, I want to encourage you to continue what you do so well. Like Chip modeled for us, keep those divine appointments each student interaction represents. Continue to serve as God has empowered and gifted you, outside the lines of mediocrity and world-centered values. Dare to challenge all our students with the truth that they have been called by God for some great purpose. Challenge them as you were challenged to discover God’s unique and powerful call on their life. Maintain your passion for the job God has given you to do here at APU. Speak as if your words are the very words of God; serve as if God’s very strength is working through you.