Last year, I wrote about the power of story, how our personal stories can align powerfully with God’s grand narrative to encourage us to live a life of service.
Our mission, illustrated in the stories we are witnessing in the lives of our Crowell students, is to educate and equip students to serve Christ by aligning their unique gifts and abilities with their calling to a business career. Little could we have known, back in 2019, that our story would soon take a very distinct and unexpected plot detour with all that 2020 has brought.
In our faculty/staff meeting last week, Professor Laureen Mgrdichian shared a devotional. She asked, “What do we do when life takes an unexpected detour?” She reminded us that, detour or not, the Lord can be counted on to be faithful. Psalms 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” Our story may be taking an unexpected plot turn, but God is faithful to be present with us in the midst of this developing narrative.
She also reminded us that “our hearts can stay the course even when our plans go off course.” I have found that when my plans are disrupted, disappointment and worry inevitably follow, and I can find my heart heavy and discouraged.
I don’t know about you, but right now in the midst of 2020, my heart yearns for a plan, a narrative, a story that provides a tangible hope and a visible future. But I am reminded that I must guard my heart with the knowledge that the Lord’s powerful redeeming, restoring story is true, and it can be counted on in the middle of our current troubles, even if we cannot yet see or touch it.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Everything I do flows from my heart? Yes, everything I do — with my family, with my friends and colleagues and in my work — originates from and is guided by my heart. Therefore, I must keep it guarded from influences that weigh it down, misdirect it, and weaken it. Instead, I must keep it strengthened with those influences that give a hope and a future.
And so let me reflect on a few moments that have encouraged me, recently.
This past week I did a Zoom call with four Crowell School business and accounting seniors who will share their stories with prospective students later this month. These seniors are currently learning in our Zoom-enabled remote courses while living in Washington state, Wisconsin, Ethiopia and near campus in Fullerton. Their stories — of how they are connecting with their professors, staying in touch with classmates, and contending with this pandemic — strengthened my hope in the future.
Recently, I went to an outdoor, socially-distanced lunch at the Biola cafeteria with the Director of the Strategic Roadmap Initiative, Paul Sohn. He updated me on the encouraging things his students are learning in the new course he’s teaching based on his book, Quarter-Life Calling: Pursuing Your God-Given Purpose in Your Twenties.
Also, the newly launched Asian American Professionals club had its first event — a panel discussion on Zoom attended by 60 participants, including Biola students, alumni, staff, and a panel of four impressive Asian executives sharing their business experience. I am so thankful for the impressive work of our students, club president Jordan Wong and panel moderator Isaiah Oommen, and club advisors Miki Gao and Paul Sohn for the vision to launch this club and plan this highly effective Zoom event. I have high expectations for this group.
At an outdoor lunch with Professor Jake Aguas, I was again encouraged as Jake shared the story of strong sales numbers for his new book, Megatrends: The Transformative Forces Reshaping the United States.
And as if this time wasn’t busy and crazy enough, I decided to do a studio recording of five of my songs, which I not-so-surprisingly titled A Story Tonight (free for you here). I hope these songs of hope are an encouragement to you; being able to record these songs after a thirty-year hiatus from the studio is also a testament to God’s provision and faithfulness to me and my family.
Now, please do not misunderstand. I know there’s no shortage of other news and other stories, news of injustice and unfairness, stories of disappointment, discouragement, and depression. I do not have my eyes closed to what’s occurring in our world.
No, while we are here we are called not to hide but “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8), and thus we must walk where He walks; into the experience of friends, students or colleagues of color who experience racial injustice, into difficult conversations where my listening and my apologies are more important than my opinion, and into the lives of those in our communities who are hurting and overwhelmed by the continued impact of this pandemic.
Yet I will choose joy, because I have hope, and by hope I do not mean wishing it would all get better. By hope, I mean confident expectation (Hebrews 11:1) in the strength and character of God.
And so I was encouraged by this week, by these and so many more stories, which show me that — even though our business school building is almost empty right now — we continue to witness God’s faithfulness to us. And while our story, like your story, may be one of disruption at this time, we are witnessing a story of His faithfulness for a hope and a future in our faculty, staff and students.
Please keep us in your prayers, as you are in ours.
Dr. Gary Lindblad
Dean, Crowell School of Business