A College Reunion

An Auburn reunion was recently held for students who had graduated 40+ years ago, covering the period from 1968-1978. It was not your typical reunion with a football game, a visit to the old fraternity house, and pressure to up your giving to the alumni association. Last weekend, students who had graduated from Auburn and had been involved with the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, came back to their old stomping grounds. I was able to tag along because I am married to an Auburn grad. Even though I was placed on the list as a 1978 graduate from Auburn, I kept reminding people I had graduated from the University of Florida. I felt good thinking I was four years younger! The weekend was fun because I knew a lot of people from this bygone era and this rival university.

There was the usual catching up: spouses; children; grandchildren; backgrounds; parents still living; jobs; hometowns. However, there was something different about this reunion. There was no pretense or play acting. No one was trying to impress anybody. I guess 40 years will do that. Real life peels back the layers and there is no need to pretend.

Our first morning at the campus center we heard from a former staff member at Auburn, Sara Randall. She helped us put into perspective our college days by asking us to answer three questions: What did we believe back then? What happened in our lives? What do we believe now? This was a group of students who had all been changed by the person of Christ during their college years.

First, we believed many things about God. We heard that He loved us and had a wonderful plan for our lives. Also, Romans 8:28, had been a favorite Bible verse, “All things work together for the good for those who love Him.” (NIV) Although it was not verbalized, many of us thought that if we followed Christ our lives would most likely be easy, purposeful, smooth sailing and an exciting adventure to boot.

The second question was sobering. What happened in our lives? There were different answers. There had been divorces, wayward children, children sent to prison, and children who had died. There were job losses, betrayals, and severe financial hardships. There had been serious health issues: cancer; heart attacks; strokes; depression. There were repressed memories of childhood abuse. Yes, life had happened and no one seemed to cover up. This was much different than what our 21 year old responses would have been.

The final question and its answers were even more interesting. What do I believe now? After life challenges had come full force, most people had  to dig deep about what they really believed about God. There had been questions like, “God if you love me why did this happen?” “What do I do with all of this pain?” “Can any good happen out of this mess?” There were answers but they didn’t always come quickly. Most of the people at the reunion had come back because their answers ended up being the same as they were 40 years ago, but with a deeper layer. The answers were not canned or in anyway glib. There was heart and soul behind what they believed. God had been faithful to show that He is loving and that he was using all of our life experiences for our good and His eternal glory.

College reunions have the reputation of gathering people being stuck in the past reminiscing about the good old days. During this reunion we reflected but it was for encouragement in the present and for the future. What God was doing forty years ago (when we were not even aware) was preparing us for a lifetime of walking with Him. Football fans remember these years as glory days at Auburn with Pat Sullivan winning the Heisman trophy. Little did we know that something bigger, something of eternal significance was also happening. God was powerfully calling scores of young students to commit their lives to Him.


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