July 2014

Body: 

Never Give Up

“Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

This was a verse that my mother counted on when she was young. She believed it in a very important way regarding her children, and she believed for 15 years before God confirmed to her that the verse was true.

When my brother, sister and I were all 4 years old or younger, my family was poor. My father, the 10thof 11 children, was working 10 hours a day as an electrician at a low wage; and before and after work going to his father’s farm to do all the chores that his elderly father could no longer perform. My father was rising long before dawn and going to bed long after dark to support his own family and to keep his father’s farm alive. And every spare dollar he earned he was putting into farm repairs, farm equipment, farm costs for my grandfather.

While my mother felt it was right to support the farm, she was also distressed about all the spare money going to the farm. She believed the way out of poverty for her children was not the farm, but a university education. And no money was being put away for an educational fund. As she agonized and prayed over this situation, she came upon Galatians 6:9. To her the personal meaning of the verse, the assurance God was giving her, was this. “Don’t be anxious about the money going into the farm. Your husband is doing his best to do the right thing, to honor his father and mother and to be a good son. Don’t become weary with this. At ‘harvest time,’ when it is time for your children to go to university, you will reap a harvest of the goodness that you have sown.” So my mother stopped worrying about the money, or at least she worried much less.

Fifteen years later, when my older brother graduated from high school (I was only one year behind, with my sister a year behind me), our family still had no money for a university education. But my mother had been hired as a secretary at the Christian university 3 blocks from our house. And the board of trustees of the university, in the spring of my brother’s senior year of high school, made a policy that the children of university staff could go to the university tuition free. So I lived at home, walked to university classes, and paid only for books. God provided my university education at a cost I could afford.

This is one of the reasons I am grateful to God to be in the position of President of Union University. I could never have afforded the full cost of my education; and my education opened doors for me to prepare me for ministry. I want to give back to other students, who are in the situation I was in, the gift of affordable education.

My mother believed Galatians 6:9 for 15 years before she experienced the promised harvest. She went on doing what was right for all those in between years. And for the rest of her life she went on working for the good of all at every opportunity, as Galatians 6:10 says. She did not grow weary, and she did not give up. She trusted God’s goodness and faithfulness, and walked by faith when there was no education fund bank account in sight.

This was not the only time my mother trusted God for what did not yet exist, or for a blessing that had not yet been given. She lived her whole live that way. She did not grow weary spiritually (though she was tired many times physically). She was committed to doing what was right; and to doing good for people whenever she could. She also knew that most of the “reaping” would come later, in fact most of it would not be in this world. And she believed that, finally, we would reap eternal life as Galatians 6:8 declares.

Graduation week this year at UUC was a wonderful example of people experiencing what my mother also experienced. Our students worked long and hard, often under difficult circumstances, for graduation day. They did not grow weary or give up when the road seemed long and the obstacles many. Student after student expressed joy and gratitude to God that they now held in their hands the diplomas and degrees they had worked for. There was an incredible sense of wonder, of happiness at God’s faithfulness in making graduation day possible. Our students were reaping the harvest of their efforts to be faithful to God’s call upon their lives. I wish every member of the UUC family had been present to experience that joy.

So I urge everyone in the UUC family to trust God for the future, to not grow weary in doing what is right, to embrace the promise that we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. God will be faithful to UUC. God will provide everything we need as we live by faith, and seek to walk faithfully the way the Lord leads us.