There is nothing like attending one’s 40th anniversary of graduating from college to put some things in perspective! On Friday and Saturday I enjoyed gathering with classmates at Oklahoma Baptist University to celebrate the class of 1972 and the 75th anniversary of the Bison Glee Club. We wore name tags with our senior pictures on them--were we ever really that young?
How good to hear stories of vocation, families, and distinctive service—from the lives which were nurtured in the red clay of Shawnee, Oklahoma. Former professors (those still among us) celebrated our accomplishments and were rightly proud, for they had sowed their lives into ours. Others tried to disguise their astonishment at how well some of us have turned out!
As I wandered around the campus, the lines from the Psalmist echoed in my mind: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6). I stopped to give thanks in the many places where God had continued to beckon me to ministry—the chapel, a prayer room in Kerr Dorm, the psych lab, and the rehearsal room.
My parents could hardly afford to send me to a private college, and when I lost my academic scholarship (too much mischief; too little study), I was not sure I could stay. A scholarship fund in my home church assisted a bit, and I was able to complete my work there. Obviously, this is one of the reasons I believe so strongly in student scholarships today.
The Psalmist goes on to write:
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy; in
your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
God showed me the path of life through the witness of others, both professors and fellow students. Their testimony to God’s work in their lives helped me discern my own calling, awakening my vision to look toward new horizons of possibility. At that time I could not see beyond some of the strictures of my conservative Southern Baptist identity; however, the Spirit was sowing seeds of imagination that would only later come to fruition.
Above all, I departed the weekend with profound gratitude for God’s use of place and people as instruments of grace. From Warren M. Angell (of blessed memory), Dean of Fine Arts and conductor of the Bison Glee Club, I learned about excellence as a way of seeking God. He taught us that beautiful music offered to God in worship is holy. He modeled the joy of discipline and the goodness of enduring friendships. For that and more, I give thanks.
Molly T. Marshall
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