It has been an interesting year, to say the least. As I sit in my office and enjoy the quiet of Christmas break, I already miss the students and wish they were back. However, with temperatures hovering in the single digits, it's probably best they aren't here right now.
Each year is different at York College. I shared with the students in opening chapel this year that one of the unique qualities of York College is the fact that you don't come to York to adjust yourself and fit in to the culture, we recreate it every year. Because of our size, each person here makes a difference as to how the year progresses. That difference can be an influence for good or not. There have been disappointments this year. Students who have made poor choices that impact not only them, and their friends, but the entire campus. But God has also blessed us with those who step up and make a change for the better and help to transform this place. Even the things that are not positive can be transformed by God into a blessing, and He has proven that again and again.
I guess that is the beauty of the York Experience we like to talk about so much. You can see God at work in everything that happens. Even when things don't go as we wish, we can see His hand turning it into blessings. While consequences must be faced, lives can still be transformed.
God has been so good to us here. I am constantly encouraged by the leadership and growing maturity that I see among our students. We recently held one of our largest December graduations. While it was a happy celebration, there is also sadness at friends who are moving on to another chapter of their lives, some of whom we may never see again. This will be repeated on a grander scale in May.
I often wonder where some of them have ended up. I more often wonder about those who were not able to finish here, who became part of our lives and then were gone.
All in all, through the good times and the bad, the happy times and sad, it is my fervent wish and prayer that somehow these young men and women are introduced to the God who loves them forever. Some leave thinking our culture is too restrictive, some think discipline is administered too harshly. Others think that we are not strict enough or we are too easy on enforcement. The thing I always argue with whether talking to parents or students, I will never except the charge that "no one cared about me." I see the compassion of our faculty, staff and administrators displayed every day. Most have not experienced the tears I see on the faces of staff when a student is dismissed or their genuine offers of help if they can do anything to make things better.
Working at York College is never easy. Part of the reason is that we are all fallen human beings who need God. I am glad He is here to help us and guide us.
It continues to be my hope that York College is the place that people can find, or be introduced to, God. We ended the final chapel of the fall semester with a part of Paul's speech to the Athenians in Acts 17:
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being."
God bless the new year as we continue to seek His grace and serve Him.