Have you recently paused to reflect on God's hand in your life? Can you say, Hear what God has done for me recently?
In the Physical Therapy Department last year, 40% of our 90+ students came from Christian schools outside of Adventism. During fall semester, the students started a weekly chapel for everyone in our department. We have enjoyed a variety of guest speakers from within the department, from Andrews, and from universities beyond our borders. It is inspiring to hear the prayer praises and requests we share during this time together.
Prayer is a normal "treatment modality" here. Often we stop whatever we are doing to pray together about a delicate phone conversation, a teacher's appointment with a student, for wisdom in an important meeting, or to pray in a corner somewhere with a student who in distress about a personal concern. We nurture an environment which gives us permission to consult with our Creator to seek guidance and comfort.
One of my first jobs in this department was to organize various remnants and souvenirs of department history. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see God's hand in your life when you are musing back over a long time-line? In the middle of the mess, it can be hard to connect the dots; to see how those difficult things could ever possibly be a part of God's plan. As I talked with the faculty about past events and organizational changes, I was impressed as I saw through the glass darkly.
When PT programs nation-wide suffered a decrease in the number of applicants, we were blessed with a marketing director who foresaw this downturn and actively targeted and recruited from non-Adventist Christian schools. Our classes remained full while other schools suffered with lagging enrollments. In the end, while other programs had 6-8 years of low student numbers, we only had four years. During that time, the department transitioned from the quarter to the semester system. This was complicated for a program weighted with lab-intensive courses and off-campus clinical internships. This transition was only possible because there were fewer enrolled students.
Also during this down time, the physical therapy professional association accrediting body announced its goal for every school to carry on the evolution of the profession and make the transition from a master's degree to a doctoral degree by 2020. Andrews University wisely chose to adapt this change during the low enrollment years and became the first DPT program in the State of Michigan. This involved reassessing the objectives of each and every course, and augmenting content areas to meet higher academic standards. The time required to make these changes was slightly offset by lower student counts during the last of those lean years.
This is all great on a public level. It's helpful to see the broad strokes of God's provision for our institution and in our work lives. But between you and me, do you ever step back and search for God's hand in your life? Can you say, "Hear what God has done for my soul lately" (Ps.66:16)? And if you don't have a current story, why don't you? Are you desperately paddling in the middle of a crisis? It can be hard to see what is right in front of you. Look around.
Sometimes I think the Bible should be re-titled. After reading through The Book a few times, one of the phrases that always strikes me is God saying "fear not" to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Isaiah, to those who are fearful of heart, to Cyrus, Jeremiah, Daniel, Zerubbabel, Zachariah, Mary, the shepherds, Jairus, and Paul. We all feel afraid at times, and God understands that.
Repetition is a pedagogical device. God has to constantly repeat Himself, to each generation, at each stage of life. Including entire tracts of pseudo-adulthood where we whine, wander and mutter, before finally returning to Him in desperation, humble and ready for our own remediation plan. God reassures. No matter what is coming at us, ready to run us over and crush us, He holds us up. He is right next to us, helping us to stay afloat and whispering that we are not alone. He draws us to prayer and into the Bible, showing us how He works while reminding us of how He has provided in the past. Whether speaking through a friend or a stranger, a boss or a student, he comforts us with the knowledge that He has a higher purpose. That we need to hold on a little longer. That it will make sense one day. That we will see the fruit of our labors and be satisfied. We cry out, and he hears us and acts. Look around.