The helicopter hanger was transformed into a space for people rather than for machines. Some fairy lights were strung, a platform built and an annual fundraiser was underway. I have seen up close and personal the work of this college campus ministry and am forever grateful for the input they had (and still have) in the lives of my own children.
I listened as some of the kids currently at college spoke but I was more aware of the adults sitting at my table. They all were once recipients of this ministry but now are married with young families. The passing of time fascinates me.
Time will do one of two things to us. It hardens us or it toughens us. You see, inevitably, there is hardship. Life never takes the path we envision. Somewhere there is a hill too steep or a boulder too large or an unexpected twist. Time always takes us on a journey of trials.
The adults sitting at my table will experience difficult times in their marriage. Their children will grow in a world that is not always fair and it will hurt. Some will face the hardship of too little money and others the trial of too much. Time will pass and they will change. How their heart responds depends on three things – their faith, their hope and their love.
Those who place their faith in God will come to know the light. In the fiercest of storms, it is faith that guides, that illuminates in the dark. It is faith that comforts and it is faith that will warm their heart and keep them strong. This faith has an amazing trait. It duplicates itself. It will give them faith in their spouse, it will give them faith for their children and it will give them faith in themselves.
With this faith comes hope. Hope that provides the joys of life. The hope of new ventures, the hope that comes with inner growth, the hope of divine guidance. This amazing force called hope gets us out of bed each morning and leads us with a divine presence. Hope causes the faithful to see beyond themselves and then leads to the greatest of the three. Love.
Not love, the romantic, soppy, jello-wobbling stuff. Love, the hard stuff. Love that is kind to others (and kind to oneself). Love that sees imperfection and offers grace. Love that knows that pride is pain and rather chooses a gentle walk with humility and grace.
Time will do two things to the much-younger-than-me adults sitting at my table. If they choose to go it alone, without leaning into Christ, time will most likely harden them. If, however, they choose godliness, time will mold them and grow them and make them better. Godliness takes many forms. Faith, hope and love are but the building blocks. Add to these, amongst others, prayer, service, forgiveness and brotherly kindness. For those who choose this path, time will do it’s work and toughen them. Yet, their hearts will still be gentle and pliable, ready for the Lord’s work.
Godliness has one other trait. No matter when in time it is embraced, it has the capacity to soften even the hardest of hearts. It is never too late.
I am optimistic for these sitting at my table. This college ministry they are here to support, first supported them. They were shown faith, hope and love at a vulnerable time of their life and now that they are older, I believe they will not depart from it.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8