Faith for the Future

January 05, 2017 | John Freedman

Dec. 7, 1892, was a banner day for 103 eager scholars enrolled for the first day of classes at the newly established Walla Walla College. Some of our current Northwest members have family ties to those first students who, along with the staff and faculty, pioneered the first Adventist college in this corner of the country. Thousands of our members around the circle of the globe are still connected to the Adventist mission and message due to this vital institution so close to our hearts.  

During 2017 Walla Walla University will reach the 125-year milestone in its heritage of Adventist higher education. Leaders who have guided this legacy through the years are still remembered: Prescott, Sutherland, Kellogg, Smith, Bowers, Christian, Reynolds, Sorenson and many others equally important. We will no doubt spend valuable time this year recounting treasured milestones of the past. Our faith will be strengthened as we recall the anchor points of how God has led this institution through the years.

But while our faith may find foundation in the past, it must actively find expression in the present and be stretched to grasp Providence for the future. Our current presidential couple, John and Pam McVay, along with the entire leadership team, faculty and staff, have brought great energy and vision to our university. I cannot imagine any better core themes than what they have embraced: excellence in thought, generosity in service, beauty in expression and faith in God. Not only our graduates but each of us would gain from a commitment to those great principles.

How many more years will we highlight those themes until the Lord comes? I do not know, but while we wait we are called to actively share the good news of salvation. I am confident that our university and its leaders are committed to furthering that mission. As chair of the university’s board of trustees, I will be integrally involved with that team as we seek God’s guidance in future plans. I ask for your prayers, that these important steps will not be shaped or limited by mere human understanding.

The apostle Paul had it right when he acknowledged that God was able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Those first four words are superlatives, all attempting to top the other — exceeding, abundantly, above, all. But the key is, as he points out, allowing God’s incredible power to work within us. Ellen White reflects those thoughts in The Desire of Ages. “There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, by putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.”

Whether it’s in the renovation plans for Bowers Hall referred to in these pages or in additional growth plans for the future health of our beloved Walla Walla University, let these structures or buildings always be in the service of our own spiritual journey with the Lord. We are all dry, dead branches unless we daily connect to the Vine. When we make Him our priority, only then will those great core themes of excellence, generosity, beauty and faith truly come to life. Only then will our future be blessed.