15 years ago this month (June 2001), Julie and I moved to Norman, Oklahoma. We’d accepted a call and passed through the steps to become the ordained campus minister for RUF at OU.
I remember meeting with four young women – my only contacts – at The Mont and telling them about what we were going to do, which was mostly something I made up on the spot. I’d never been to an RUF meeting before, so I didn’t really know. We invited a lot of people and then we started on August 22nd, 2001. That was also the same day my daughter Anna was born at Norman Regional Hospital. We sang songs that no one except me knew – which means I sang several solos – which means that was not a pleasant experience for anyone – which means I never had to lead music ever again at RUF! I opened up the Scriptures that night, and we started to look at different life-changing conversations Jesus had with people. We threw some parties. We talked together at Cafe Plaid. We started to become friends.
I remember telling people that we were here to reach students for Christ and to equip them to serve the church and the world. I would say they should look ahead and see men and women who love Jesus more than they ever have. They desire good preaching and teaching. They love to read the Scriptures. They love to sing good hymns. They love to sit and talk with people. They’re not surprised by sin. They’re willing to get dirty in life. They hope for more. They forgive quickly. They’re passionately working out their callings as teachers, musicians, ballerinas, artists, engineers, accountants, doctors, nurses, lawyers, moms and dads and husbands and wives and singles. They’re passionate about Christ’s church. They serve as elders and deacons and even some as pastors and campus ministers. They’re generous people. They’re humble and kind. They know and preach grace because they’ve experience the grace of Jesus in a community of friends where they were listened to, loved, and accepted.
I looked ahead and told those 20 students at the end of that first year that that was what we were doing. That someday I’d marry them and baptize their kids if I would get to be so fortunate. And someday they’d thank God for his blessings in their lives.
This weekend, I looked back. I was able to see that he had in fact answered those prayers. He’d been at work answering. He is still answering. He is providing all of those things and even more, and he’s not even close to being finished. At our celebration of the last 15 years of God’s work at RUF at OU, person after person spoke of God’s redeeming love, how he will not let us go, how he loves sinners like me, how he knits us into a community of sinner saints, of how he keeps on pursuing us and how we forge these important experiences together. And how that matters.
It’s good when you get to see God answer prayers.