This topic has popped up in a few different subjects and conversations the past week, so I felt compelled to write a little something about it… because it is a good reminder.
One of the freshman core classes at Ouachita is something they call an OBU Connections Class. It takes a subject you are interested (I chose the one with Sherlock Holmes and mystery books) and combines it with life lessons that every student going into college needs to hear. We finished up Rick Ostrander’s Why College Matters To God, which introduces students to the true purpose of a Christian liberal arts education. It is an interesting and intellectually challenging read; I enjoyed it very much.
Throughout his entire book, Ostrander emphasizes the importance of integrating faith and learning in our college education as it relates to our relationship with Christ. He maintains that each day we attend our classes and learn about new disciplines, we are learning a little bit more about God’s incredible universe; our appreciation and awe of His creation grows and we grow closer to Him in turn. In our educational disciplines, we are called to be God’s “agents of redemption,” using these gifts and opportunities He has given us to spread love and slowly correct the fallen world around us. We must go about our education, our jobs, and the relationships we build over the course of our lifetime with the mindset that everything we learn and do should be to deepen our relationship with Christ and help those around us; always putting others before ourselves.
Matthew 25 outlines the Parable of the Ten Talents. A master turns over responsibility of his money to 3 different slaves. He gives 5 talents (one talent ~ $1000) to the first slave, 2 to the second slave, and 1 to the last slave. He goes away for a period of time and trusts them to do as they please with the money. The first two slaves each invest their money and come back with double the amount they started with. The master congratulates them and showers them with blessings. The third slave comes back and tells his master that he buried the money in the ground so he would not have to worry about anything happening to it. The master harshly criticizes him and casts him out of the house because he was not wise with the money. He could have made more with interest, but he hid it away.
I will say…. the first time I read this parable I had no idea what the significance could possibly be, but the pastor at one of the churches in Arkadelphia finally helped me understand. He told us to think about the master as God and the slaves as ourselves. Just like the master gave them talents, God has entrusted us with gifts that we are to use with a purpose.
For example, God has blessed me with the athletic ability to not only play volleyball, but to continue my career into college. Singing, drawing, acting, and playing instruments are not my strong suits (although I did try out piano for two years, I just wasn’t super passionate about it); he gave those abilities to others and they impact the people around them in their own ways. He didn’t give me my athletic ability to make me feel good about myself or as just a hobby, but he uses it to teach me lessons about teamwork and relationships as well as putting me in a situation where I can positively impact my peers and younger girls who are thinking about starting volleyball. It didn’t hit me until about halfway through high school how big of role models we are for the beginner and intermediate players.
4th grade: me and three of my best friends (we all played in a PSA rec league at the time) won a day with the varsity volleyball team in our school auction. We got to go to one of their practices and even got to sit on the bench with them during one of their games. Oh my goodness, it was like the most incredible thing at the time. I just remember gazing in awe at how good these girls were and how high they could jump. I aspired to be like them one day even though it seemed so far away. They signed a volleyball with all their names on it, and I still treasure it to this day. It was one of those special experiences that really furthered my love for volleyball. 9 years later, those girls don’t even realize that they inspired that little 4th grader on the sidelines became a starting freshman on her college team, a real dream come true. Volleyball has changed my life forever.
I now look down at these 4th graders, and I am that girl they look up to, that they inspire to be. It’s crazy how the roles reverse; you gain so much responsibility as you grow older. I’m no division 1 all-American volleyball player, but I really hope that I can inspire young girls to love the sport like I do. I believe it is what God gave me volleyball for.