It happened again.
I made a last minute decision to attend homecoming at Oklahoma Baptist University, my alma mater. As I stepped onto campus, the steeple of Raley Chapel towered majestically in the distance. The bells began to chime, and the words began to ring through my mind…
OBU! All hail thy name!
Sons and daughters honor thee;
May thy standards green and gold
Proudly stand on Bison Hill
‘Neath the wind-swept sky;
Alma Mater we will praise thee
As the years go by.
When the shades of evening fall,
Through the hush of fading day,
Silent voices praise thy name,
Hearts look up to pray.
May thy spirit guide thy sons,
Keep thy daughters true,
Loyal to our Alma Mater,
God bless OBU!
During my four years at OBU, I sang that song many times. For us Bison, it’s hard to sing it as it is written; there are some additional lyrics that are frequently added during the less formal renditions. But, as I listened to the bells chime and the words rang through my mind today, I was keenly aware of what a blessing OBU was and still is to me.
OBU is a quaint little college in Shawnee, OK. We had approximately 2000 students on campus when I was a student, so we at least knew of almost every other student. We had the privilege of developing personal relationships with faculty and staff. We were challenged with a tough educational program balanced by staff who cared about us as individuals–even as they traversed the history and literature of western civilization with us.
Even more importantly, our education had a foundation in scripture. Our required coursework included a survey of the Old and New Testament. Opportunities for Bible study and worship abounded on campus. As I walked across the Oval today, I saw plaques with scriptures embedded in the sidewalk lining the path. What a reminder to everyone who walks across campus that our foundation is in our faith!
As I reflect on my four years on that campus, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the blessing of my OBU family—and we are a family! It doesn’t matter if you were there for one semester or six or seven years. If you attended OBU, if you donned your beanie, you are family! As I flip through my list of Facebook friends, I see a great multitude of amazing Christians serving around the globe. There are ministers and lawyers and doctors and business people. There are nurses and accountants and therapists and social workers. In every walk of life, they serve God—exactly as God has designed them to serve. They seek him. They love him. They reflect him in their lives, to a world desperately in need of a Savior.
Today as I walked across campus and was overcome with emotion, I whispered a prayer for the students there today. I prayed that they would not squander the blessings of an OBU education, but that instead they would grasp the magnitude of the blessing today. I began to wonder how many really understand what an opportunity they have, how many students are really making the most of this time in their lives.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
To the students currently attending OBU, I would like to offer some thoughts on how to make the most of your days. Some things I did well; some I wish I could go back and change. You have the opportunity to do things right. Take advantage!
Study hard. OBU can be tough! It can also provide you with the foundation for a bright future. Make sure that you are putting forth the effort to learn, even to learn how to learn. Dig deeper than what is expected of you. Go above and beyond! Spend time with your professors and pick their brains. Focus more on learning than on a letter grade.
Many of you may earn your degree…and then never work in that field. It’s ok! I have never officially worked in the field of public relations—even went back to school to get a nursing degree. But, the educational foundation that I received has been worth more than money could buy.
Play hard. If there was something I was not very good at it was playing hard. I was studious. I was disciplined. I was scared of getting into trouble. While my friends were painting the Bison and putting bubbles in the fountain, I was focused. While others tried to sneak up the steeple of Raley or spend the night in the library, I was in my bed asleep.
Even as I visit with alumni from my decade (the 1990s…we are old), I hear the stories of their antics. Oh how I wish I had more funny stories to tell! Sure, there are pledging stories and Beach Reach stories. But, I really wish I had been able to loosen up and enjoy myself more. Make sure you take time to play. That’s where you develop relationships that last a lifetime.
Honor those that have gone before you. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, those of us who paved the way for you. Our hearts truly bleed green and gold, and today—perhaps more than when we were students—we recognize what an honor it is to be an alumni of OBU. We cherish Bison Hill and all that we learned.
As you graduate, you are inducted into the family. If I meet you on the street one day and learn that you, too, are an alumnus, you can be assured that there will be a special kinship between us—and an expectation that you can go with Ka-Rip! Cherish those of us who walked the Oval before you, those of us who left a legacy for you, those of us who prayed over you before you ever arrived on campus. You have benefited from our time on the Hill.
Don’t take for granted what you have. As you visit with friends who attend other colleges, I am certain that you will realize that you have something they don’t. You have personal relationships with your professors. You are a name. You matter. You have the opportunity to flourish intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially. OBU serves to prepare the whole person!
In addition, you are surrounded by some of the most amazing future leaders! Look around. These people will be the legislators, the company presidents, the CEOs, the teachers of tomorrow. You are going to school with many of the future pastors and religious leaders of the state of Oklahoma. You attend class with the doctors who will care for you and your children.
You are blessed to be a Bison, to be in a place that produces leaders who let their lights shine in this increasingly dark and evil world. Recognize the blessing that you have in front of you.
Make your OBU family proud. As you put on that graduation gown and take the final walk to Raley Chapel, you are representing OBU and our family. Wear the family name proudly! Represent it well. Remember that a good name is more desirable than great riches (Proverbs 22:1). Please don’t defame the family name.
Walk in integrity. Walk in truth. Follow Christ. Seek to emulate him in all you say and do. Let your light shine for all the world to see so that others see the Father’s love in you. Be the hands and feet of Christ to a world desperately in need of a Savior. Look after the orphan and widow in their distress and keep yourself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). Love mercy and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).
Lord Jesus, what a blessing you gave me all those years ago to walk the hallowed halls of OBU. What a blessing that there is still an educational institution that reveres your name, that makes you the foundation of life. What a blessing that so many went before me, calling on your name to bless Bison Hill, asking that your favor and grace fall upon that place. Thank you that I was the recipient of that legacy. Father, for today’s students, I pray that they would embrace the opportunity that has been placed before them. I ask your favor on them, that your word would be alive in them and through them. I pray that you would pour out your spirit upon them so that they might have faith to move mountains! Let them know you in all the fullness of your glory and grace! Help them to live their lives with a long obedience in the same direction. Let them represent the name of Christ and the name of OBU alumni well. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
GOD BLESS OBU!