Welcome to the blank page of your next chapter. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life. Welcome to Southern Seminary and Boyce College.
Our campus is abuzz this morning. The graduate students were getting oriented all day yesterday, and hundreds of you new college students and your families are preparing to blitz the dorms as we launch fall orientation and welcome everyone to campus.
Student leaders are readying for your arrival, and a staff that I know and love is serving their hearts out to welcome you to the family. Returning students are packing their cars and their luggage this weekend and gearing up for their next semester. The faculty offices are once again charged with energy after a typical summer of research and planning and traveling and teaching and serving that keeps the hallways at home relatively quiet. The administrative hum of this 157-year-old institution is picking up as dozens of departments rev their interlocking engines that drive our mission forward.
So much has changed since the spring — graduates have moved on, leaders have transitioned, and faithful men and women have risen to take their places — yet so much has stayed the same. The message, the method, the mission — these keep standing the test of time, rooted in the ancient text on which we stand.
Earlier this week I stood before the graves of our founders in Cave Hill Cemetery listening to every word from historian Greg Wills as he shared the story of Southern Seminary’s founding and God-given endurance.
The ink long ago dried on the stories of the founders, presidents, professors, and students who’ve gone before us. Yet their stories, attached as they are to the megastory of the gospel, live on in the legacies their lives tell. They were far from perfect, just like us. But along with the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, they are speaking to us. They are telling us that God is faithful, they are urging us to train hard, and they are calling us to keep the faith.
For all of you incoming students, your Southern story has no tombstone or dry ink yet. The page before you is blank. But the ink is just about to start sweeping across one page after another, the pen held in the hand of a sovereign author who knows the end from the beginning.
It’s a nervous thing, I know. I’ve been there. You know there are chapters yet to be written, chapters starting this very morning, but you don’t know how they’ll unfold — their twists and turns, their pleasures and pains, their victories and defeats. You just know that today is a big deal.
You can take it one of two ways. Flip right, into your future, and you’ll find only blank pages and a sovereign, loving Father asking you to trust him. But flip left, into his past, and you’ll find nothing but stories of faithfulness etched with the finger of his unchanging character in the granite of his unchanging Word.
And so, my new friends, welcome to Southern Seminary and Boyce College. The page before you may be blank, but you’re grasped by a great gospel and a good Father. So jump in, live well, train hard, and Godspeed.