If I had to be honest, the disciple I relate to the best is "Doubting" Thomas. I tend toward skepticism, even in the wake of having clearly seen God at work. I am constantly sure that, despite all that God has done, the next crisis is too big. A fellow Cornerstone founder often pokes me with the moniker, "Doubting Derrick," as she continues to be the "glass half full" foil to my "glass half empty" moods.
As God has shown himself faithful by providing a great teaching staff, blessing our seniors with some amazing college acceptances (Penn State, George Mason, Radford, Bowie State, and Morgan State to name a few), and allowing us to witness the life-changing power of his Holy Spirit in the lives of so many of our students -- I get stuck focusing on the chasm we still must cross to get from where we are to where we need to be in both our academics and our students' embrace of the Gospel. I get saddened by the cultural decline that often creeps into our school and by the violence and relativism beyond our doors. There are days it overwhelms me and my mood is all too evident to both staff and students.
My pessimism came to light last week while meeting with a ninety-two-year-old friend of Cornerstone. After a lunch during which I shared what God is doing at Cornerstone, I took the opportunity to ask this friend if she was optimistic or pessimistic about the direction of our country -- secretly hoping we could revel in what I expected to be a "sky is falling" session of gloom and misery. Instead, and this is hard to describe, this dear friend smiled with a hope gleaming from her eyes and said, "Oh, optimistic, very optimistic." I pushed back, "School shootings? Growing sexual and gender issues? Attacks on religious freedom?" Her smile never left and the palpable sense of hope remained. I can't recall exactly what she said next, but I was left remembering that God is in control and that, having seen so much worse in her day, this friend trusts that we know how the story ends. As you read this on Good Friday -- isn't knowing the end especially comforting?
My pastor recently preached on Ecclesiastes 12 -- about not waiting until you are old to too seek God's wisdom. Yes, in our older age, as our body gives out, the importance of fearing the Lord and obeying his commandments may become more clear, but why wait? I strongly believe that God is reminding me that our students, many of whom are in very difficult circumstances, need to see me modeling the joy of knowing that God is not surprised by the challenges we face and that the hope of the Lord runs deeper than the seas of turmoil. Lord, forgive my doubt and continue to put people in my life that remind me of your grace. May our students share a hope in you and an optimism founded in your promises -- the promise of your salvation and the promise that you will come again -- and may they fear you, Lord, and obey your commands while they are still young!