The Handiwork of God

January 01, 2011 | John McVay

The story broke on November 12. A woman and her son, cleaning out a house in a London suburb, come across an old, dusty vase. Is it just a cheap imitation of the real thing? Should they bother having it evaluated?

But the vase does have some unique features. It is — though they will only learn the terms later—reticulated and double-walled. It has an inner vase that can be viewed through perforations in the outer vase. And so they take it to their local auction house, Bainbridges, where experts research the piece and decide that it is a genuine 18th-century Chinese Qing dynasty vase. It probably once resided in the royal palace of Emperor Qianlong and was almost certainly fired in the imperial kilns!

When the hammer comes down, the vase becomes the most expensive piece of Oriental art work ever sold at auction. The price? $68 million. And Mr. Bainbridge is smiling broadly in the photos accompanying the story because the auction house gets an additional 20 percent. The new owner's total tab? $85 million.

So why do I believe Walla Walla University is strategically positioned for just such a time as this?

Because we are inspired by a few lines in our own mission statement:

"Walla Walla University is founded on Christian teachings and values as understood and appreciated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Central to these teachings is the belief that every person is created in the image of God as a being of inestimable value and worth, imbued with powers of intelligence, stewardship and creativity akin to those of the Creator."

We are driven by the conviction that every student who wisely chooses WWU is "created in the image of God" and is "of inestimable value and worth." How is that conviction shaping what we do? It is the reason that every freshman student now has a personal mentor. And what a group of mentors they are: well-educated, deeply committed and invested in the success of students. WWU offers: personal attention; prayerful mentoring; small classes; deans who care; professors who will happily meet with you after class; resident assistants who take time to listen; campus ministry leaders who draw you out and press you into service; a campus church that offers powerful times of worship; great food and high-touch ministry; teachers who know their subjects and who know you.

Why go to all this trouble? Because every student is a priceless treasure — worth far more than $85 million — fired in the kiln of the Emperor of all things. We like to take time for research and to ask a few questions: What is most important to you? What does God mean to you? What goals is God birthing in your heart? We like to blow off the dust. We like to look through the reticulations and the perforations to the inner vase.

And when we do, we behold the handiwork of God.