August 2012

Body: 

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”   Isaiah 55:8.

I am trying to learn how to let God be more extraordinary in my life. And I am praying that as a university we will learn how to let God act in extraordinary ways in behalf of our school. 

I am trying to grow in my faith and expectation that God is able and willing to intervene for us in good and surprising ways.

I am asking God to give us more actual experiences of the truth Isaiah told us—that God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts; that God’s ways can be very different from our ways.

Sometimes having faith and trust in God is about acting faithfully when tough situations don’t change after we have prayed. Sometimes having faith is about sticking with God’s priorities as we understand them when there is no support for doing so; when acting faithfully gets us in trouble with the people and authorities around us. Sometimes trusting God is about following the Lord on the narrow way when those around us say we are foolish to do so. 

Our faith, our understanding that God loves us, our own strength and giftedness (which God has given us), even our stubbornness in the face of pressure can take us a long way toward accomplishing the things the Lord has given us to do.

But I believe that sometimes God wants us to go farther, with God’s extraordinary help, than we could ever go using our combined faith, strength, giftedness, wisdom and stubbornness.  Sometimes faith should be about experiencing the extraordinary, experiencing God acting in ways that are not our ways, ways that we would never be capable of on our own.

We get used to living by faith “no matter what” and at the same time not expecting God to act in truly extraordinary ways. So do we really believe that God’s thoughts are far beyond our thoughts, and God’s ways far beyond our ways?

As a university, we have made some progress in accepting the extraordinary from God. Our way was to be an onsite Vietnamese theological school. God’s way, to be a multi-language online theological school, is something we have embraced. Our thoughts (even now, when we slip back into them) are that we will probably always be a small school that struggles financially and does not have the capacity to fulfill the global vision God has given us. If God thought that way, he would never have called us to bring good theological education to even the poorest church leaders, in their own languages, anywhere in the world.

The next three years will be crucial to Union University of California. They are years that call for extraordinary faith and expectation on our part, and extraordinary action on God’s part.  If God does not act in extraordinary ways, we will fail. But when has God ever failed? Our God, whose thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways, also never fails.

Please join with me in believing, praying for, and expecting God’s extraordinary actions in behalf of UUC for the next three years, beginning right now.

As you spend some time in intercessory prayer on Monday, give thanks for our God, who is extraordinary in every way, including especially his great love for us and all humankind in Jesus Christ.

Continue to pray for Dr. Cuong Nguyen’s health and mine.  And for everyone you know in our university family who is facing illness or distress.

Please remember our students, faculty, staff, supporters and board of trustees in your prayers. And as we build our networks of friendship and cooperation with theological schools around the world, continue to pray that the Lord will raise up alliances to help UUC accomplish its vision.

 

Rev. Dale Sewall, D.D.

President, Union University of California