“From the wilderness of Sin, the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages as the LORD commanded”(Exodus 17:1). This Old Testament text has been very reaffirming for me as the college director this last year, specifically because I am about to witness this June the first graduating class of seniors that I have had the privilege of journeying with these last four years. In July 2002 I was hired by Bel Air to become the full-time college director after a six month internship in the college department. As I look back on those four years I had little understanding of college ministry and sometimes that still seems the case. And I know that those freshmen coming in that year were not only unsure of me as the college director, but also unsure of themselves in the new life stage of college. But I have really begun to realize more than ever that life and ministry is process oriented and that we as people of God are on a journey from stage to stage. For the people of God in this text, their journey involved 400 plus years of slavery under the Egyptians, followed by a miraculous exodus from out of slavery and into 40 years of wilderness living. College students may not find themselves in the same predicament of being in slavery and wilderness wandering, but this life stage is a very disorienting process with its own type of wandering. This wandering consists of a multitude of conditions from the highs of mountain top experiences to lows of dwelling in the valley.
But over these four years the college students and myself have been on a journey together, traveling from stage to stage. And it is not a journey that we travel on alone, under our own desires and experiences, but we are led by the same God who has been leading His people through life throughout history. This is the beauty of Paul’s words in I Corinthians 12, when he talks about many members, but one body, the body that Christ is the head of. No matter where we find ourselves in our journey, and no matter what stage we are traveling through, we are a community of people that God is directing out of slavery and through the wilderness and into freedom. I want to thank the senior class of 2006. They have been a community of people that have been the foundation of our college ministry and a people who have come alongside others in our group, one another, and myself, and they have made this journey traveling from stage to stage a very remarkable one. My prayers and thoughts are with you as you leave the college stage and are being called out into another stage of life by God. God has great plans for your life and I am very excited for you, and I am excited about the community that he has begun in us and that will continue on.