I found Christ at Baylor University. I had very limited, if any, exposure to the gospel prior to that season of life. I can recall a few infrequent attempts to get to a church service around the Easter or Christmas season while growing up, but Christianity was not part of the culture of my childhood.
I assumed that Baylor was Baptist in name only (as had been my experience with other universities tied to denominations). But, it was a whirlwind of exposure to faith, community, and mission. Everything in my world and worldview changed in those few years in Waco. It both changed and saved my life.
I pledged a national fraternity, Sigma Chi, that seemed to consist of Christians almost entirely. One night during a pledge-ship that offered very limited sleep, but felt more like intense discipleship, the members kidnapped me and my pledge brothers. They blindfolded us, stuck us in the backseat of cars, and whisked us away to an unknown location.
This is where I thought the real fraternity experience would be exposed. The greatest fears of my cinematic imaginings would be realized. There would be drinking, hazing, and all the things I thought fraternity life was like from the movies I had seen. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When our blindfolds were removed, we were standing on the banks of a river with all the members of the fraternity on a cliff on the other side. Our pledge trainer read us those verses from Revelation 2 and asked us to pick up a white stone from the riverbed (pictured above, I’ve kept it ever since). I can’t tell you exactly how the membership or my pledge brothers fully interpreted that experience, but for me it carried a much deeper and defining message.
I was becoming a new man with a new identity. I was putting the old man behind me and putting on the new one. As the bishop tells Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, “You no longer belong to fear and hatred.” God knew me in some precious and unique way that would redefine my life. I would bear His image uniquely and most profoundly reflect His glory through that identity.
During the LifePlan retreat that re-charted the last 5 years of my life, this and other stories came into clear focus:
- Raising myself through books and television
- Having a broad imagination and vocabulary as a result
- Rewarded in school for my writing & creativity
- Following a beautiful girl into the speech department
- Believing, in powerful fashion during college, that God had a new identity for me
- Receiving a new name from the Father at a retreat in late 2002
The name that God game me at a retreat on the side of a mountain, is precious to me. It shapes and informs everything I do. It changed everything. Every day I spend speaking, writing, and uniquely communicating His truths, is the confirmation of what He wrote on my heart and has intended for me from the first day of my life.
Let’s read what MacDonald said again…
- Do you know who you are?
- Are you clear on what God has been intending and trying to reveal your entire life?
- How do you uniquely reflect the nature of God’s glory to a fallen world?