From the President: Spring 2023

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As this academic year drew to a close, I found myself reflecting upon many things for which we have to be thankful. The Cairn faculty is strong and committed, the staff and administration are capable and unified, and the students are eager and engaged. The Lord provides for us financially, grants us safety, and blesses us with a vibrant community at Cairn. In addition to reflecting upon these things, I have also been reflecting on a number of conversations I have had this year that have encouraged me. I have been pleased with how much the direction and mission of the University is resonating with folks. I have been buoyed by seeing how the Lord is at work in this world and in the lives of his people. But in all honesty, I have also been struck by how wearied so many people are by the circumstances of life and the difficulties of the past several years; how easily discouraged people are by the state of this world given the social, cultural, and political upheavals and tensions that swirl around us; and how difficult it is for people to be hopeful in the face of the challenges of our day and our own weaknesses and liabilities. This is completely understandable. It all seems so overwhelming at times.

A couple of the more poignant conversations I had this year occurred during our annual Church Leaders Conference. In my opening comments, I shared a few thoughts drawn from the book of Nehemiah, where we find the record of the incredible and urgent work undertaken to rebuild the ruined walls of God’s city under very difficult circumstances. It seemed an overwhelming task, even impossible. But the prophet tells how this daunting task got carried out. In Nehemiah 3:28 we read, “Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired each one opposite his own house.” This speaks vividly to our wearying challenge in the days we face presently. The people of God set about their work by attending to the walls in front of their own homes. Shoulder to shoulder, they stood and worked, no daylight between them, fixed upon the task at hand.

This is our way as God’s people. We carry out the work we have been given to do, not preoccupied with or distracted by the overwhelming scope and magnitude of the situation but diligent and focused, knowing that if we do our part, the walls will be built and the city of God will stand by God’s grace. We raise families, teach our children, serve in churches, care for neighbors, hold forth God’s Word, and proclaim the gospel in our own spheres, across from our homes. I had several wonderful and mutually encouraging conversations following those remarks that day. Several weeks later, a fellow alumnus reminded me of the words from a poem I had not thought about in years, T.S. Eliot’s “Choruses From the Rock,” which includes the following:

In the vacant places
We will build with new bricks
There are hands and machines
And clay for new brick
And lime for new mortar
Where the bricks are fallen
We will build with new stone
Where the beams are rotten
We will build with new timbers
Where the word is unspoken
We will build with new speech
There is work together
A Church for all
And a job for each
Every man to his work.

I trust this issue of our magazine is an encouragement to you in your life and work as you see some of what we are doing to attend to the walls in front of us.