Our niece, Emily, flew back to Indy this afternoon to begin her sophomore year at Butler University as a dance student in the Jordan School of Fine Arts. She is a talented young lady who loves the arts and we kind of act like her surrogate parents when she is here in town – we all go to dinner and Janet and I make sure that she has all the things that she needs when she is living here during the school year.
It’s been quite a number of years since Janet and I had kids in college. They are all much older now and yet, picking Emily up at the airport, going to lunch and shopping most of the afternoon all seem strangely familiar to me – kind of like what we used to do with our own kids as we took them back to college. Now the dorms and sorority houses aren’t open yet, so Emily has made arrangements to stay with friends in a house on campus. You know, it’s one of those places that has a million bedrooms and 2 kitchens – but only a very small living place for people to congregate.
Janet and I never stayed in places like this – but our children did. It’s kind of funny – Janet and I find ourselves reliving our college years. It seems so odd that in another 2 weeks we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary and at the same time we are thinking about what life would have been like if we had attended college together – but that didn’t happen.
Butler is the kind of school that we both would have loved to attend. Both our daughters chose to go to Ball State, but Butler would have received the nomination from Janet and me. I have actually taught there – as an Executive in Residence adjunct a number of years ago. I wasn’t a regular but I was responsible for teaching career transition and resume/interviewing skills to upperclassmen as they prepared for their lives after graduation. Basically, I helped the other professors who were full fledged members of the faculty while I was still heavily engaged in the corporate world most of the time.
Thinking back on it, I really didn’t like my college career at all attending the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (UICC). I kind of wish I could have it back to do over again. I think that my whole life would have been different. But Janet is wiser than I am. She reminds me that our lives have turned out just fine and that God had a plan for me that couldn’t have been fulfilled the way it was if things had happened differently. And she’s right. Maybe we weren’t supposed to have attended college together. Or perhaps we wouldn’t have ended up together.
And while I still cling to the notion that I would have loved attending Northwestern University, where I had been accepted into their 6 year combined undergrad/medical school program, it just wasn’t meant to be. And to be sure, had I followed that path, I probably wouldn’t have been accepted into seminary and many things in my life would have been far different. Now, as I look back on the years of my career, I could have made better choices, but being a doctor wouldn’t have been a good choice for me. My brother Doug made the grade, though, and is a far better doctor that I could have ever hoped to be.
Yep – God has me right where he wants me, and when I look around the room, I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone. Just as long as Janet and I make sure that we are in the will of God and can make the journey together, I don’t much care where we serve. And it’s been a great ride for many decades of our lives together.
The verse for tonight is from the book of Jeremiah. We are told, by God Himself, in Jer. 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” My encouragement this evening is that God has a plan for each of us – and while that plan has already been partially implemented in the lives of those of us who are older, the journey isn’t by any means over.
And to our younger readers, God has a plan for each of you also. I encourage you to listen to what that plan is all about. My prayer is that you will consider a life dedicated to at least considering what God has in store for you. Try to approach life with an open mind, and as my grandfather told me the day that I was confirmed at age 13, “the most contended creatures under heaven are those who belong to God and have dedicated themselves to a higher way of life.” Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…