Just Two Things

Author Richard Carlson has made a fortune, reminding us in his “New York Times” bestseller that there are just two things we need to remember: Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.

It reminds me of something Dr. Jon Dybdahl has been doing at Walla Walla College, since his arrival this fall—telling us there are just two things we need to remember. No doubt his administration will be marked by an unrelenting emphasis on these two things.

“I know some of you have heard me talk about these things before,” Dr. Dybdahl said recently at a meeting, “but I want to say just two things. Nothing is more important than these two things.”

Though it was the fifth time I’d heard the speech, my heart raced as he again envisioned our future at the College. Once again he landed on two platforms that I hope become the bedrock of this school.

Prayer

He gave everyone a card and asked us to keep it as a reminder of the first thing. The card is now displayed under the glass on my desk and reminds me often to “Pray, Pray for Walla Walla College.”

On the back of the card is this request: “Please pray for students, faculty, staff, parents, and board members.” Quoted also is Ephesians 1:16, “I have not stopped remembering you in my prayers.” So I’m doing just that and invite you to join me.

As I pray, I think of Mother Teresa’s take on the topic. She once said: “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself.” No wonder she often spent hours in prayer. For prayer is the practice of living in the presence of God.

News anchorman Dan Rather once asked Mother Teresa, “What do you say to God when you pray?”

“I listen,” said Mother Teresa.

“And what does God say to you?”

“He listens.”

Prayer, in its purest form, is simply being in the presence of Jesus. What better invitation could our campus leader give us? To live in the presence of Jesus is to fertilize the soil of the soul. This will no doubt result in Dr. Dybdahl’s second vision.

Life-changing Experiences

His second dream for Walla Walla College is that it will be a place where life-changing experiences occur. What’s the point of an expensive, Seventh-day Adventist education if students leave the same as when they arrived?

If that’s the case, let’s slap a “Closed” sign on the campus. As our president is prone to remind us, our College is here to facilitate life-changing experiences for all who attend.

Consider this counsel of Ellen White: “The follower of Jesus should be constantly improving in manners, in habits, in spirit, and labor. But this is done by keeping the eye, not on mere outward, superficial attainments, but on Jesus the model. A transformation takes place in mind, in spirit, in character. The Christian is educated in the school of Christ to cherish the graces of his Spirit in all meekness and lowliness of mind. . . . Every one who has to do with the education and training of youth, needs to live very close to the great Teacher, to catch his spirit and manner of work” (Christian Education, 200-201).

Just two things: prayer and transformation. That’s what we’re about at Walla Walla College. And that’s anything but small stuff.

January 01, 2003 / Fresh Start
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Karl Haffner is senior pastor of the Walla Walla College Church and writes from College Place, Wash.