In light of the recent shooting in Thousand Oaks and Woolsey fire that engulfed almost 100,000 acres (as of this writing), I am particularly grateful to God for the safety of my daughter, Tiffany. Many of you know her as a friend and NCA student who graduated in May of this year and then moved on to Pepperdine University. On Thursday of November 8th, Tiffany sent the following text to me and my wife, Mrs. Song, at 3:37 AM:
You guys are probably asleep now, but I would just like to let you know that I did not go to that bar. I just have friends and housemates who went. Also, my suitemate “Becca” was there, so she is traumatized right now. My RA is still at the hospital, and the missing girl from my dorm is still yet to be found. I’m doing okay, so don’t worry too much. Just please pray for the kids here.
Now, though it was sent at 3:37 AM in the morning, I didn’t read the text until 6:34 AM. When I first got the message, I had no idea what she was referring to. But, when I turned the TV on, the news of the shooting was everywhere.
You know, Tiffany later told me that she was considering going to that line-dancing event. She changed her mind because she had a test on Thursday. As it turned out, the missing girl from her dorm, Alaina Housely, was one of the 12 killed that night. The entire Pepperdine University mourned the loss of a young person. And, to me, the ordeal wasn’t just some news--my daughter could have been there that night. My daughter could have been injured or killed. My daughter could have been in Alaina’s shoes.
Then, on Friday morning, we learned that the Woolsey fire was shifting toward the campus of Pepperdine University. Luckily, we were able to have one of the upper classmen bring Tiffany to our home that morning, but most students were stuck on campus due to road closures. I later saw the pictures of 177+ mansion-sized homes burned to the ground, as well as how close the flames were to Pepperdine University. The fire had burned several cars and storage containers on the north-end of the campus. While I don’t think the students were ever in danger, I was once again reminded about the frailty of life and futility of worldly possessions.
Without sounding selfish, I am grateful that my daughter is home with me. I am grateful that she is alive. While many properties and structures were lost, and the death toll from the Woolsey fire is at 3, I am grateful for the firemen, sheriffs, police officers, and other authorities who worked tirelessly to save lives.
With this backdrop, this year’s Thanksgiving is particularly meaningful to me. With my son Timothy studying abroad and my daughter in college, I realize once again that there are many factors beyond my control. Only thing, and the best thing, I can do is to place them in the hands of Almighty God.
We are all mere human beings who can do nothing to change the ultimate destiny. Perhaps that is why King Solomon in Ecclesiastes reminds us to place no faith or trust in worldly possessions, work, or knowledge. Indeed, he urges us to look up to heaven, acknowledge God as the Creator and Lord of the universe, place Him squarely in the center of our lives, and enjoy each day that He grants us.
Dear students of NCA. You matter. You are a valuable individual who bears the image of God. You are the apple of your parents eyes, and God loves you. But remember. Hold loosely on to life as you know it. Instead, hold firmly onto the hand of the Mighty God. Have a right perspective as to why you were created, how you ought to live, what your life’s purpose is, and where you are headed.
And this Thanksgiving season, I hope you'll take the time to not only appreciate God, but completely place your trust in him. The journey becomes all the more enjoyable and memorable as you travel with the gracious Father.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
We can all use life principles to guide us. Here, I'd like to share four (4) "down's" of life.
Life can be very frustrating. There are all kinds of things that can cause stress and anxiety. But, we must remember to not lose our temper. We must learn to remain cool, calm, and collected. When faced with conflicts, choose to be less confrontational. Be gentler and kinder. Make efforts to understand and empathize with others.
Do not pursue power, position, prestige and profits. Don’t let “moving up” be the goal of your life--In fact, when possible, choose to move down. That's what Jesus did. Also, do not assume that you have the "right" to be served, honored, and respected. Humble yourself. Lay down your sense of entitlement.
Be rooted in God’s word. Be that tree which bears fruit in and out of season (Psalms 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8). Live a life of inward reflection. Rather than blaming others or pointing fingers, search your own soul and self for answers and correction. Prepare for the future by working on the fundamentals. Learn to wait on God.
Don't be a stiff-necked, arrogant person. Despite what your parents might have told you, you are not the prince or princess to everyone (you might be to your parents)!. The sooner you realize that you are not the center of the universe, the more you'll enjoy and appreciate this journey called "life." Remain humble in all human relations. But more importantly, acknowledge God, and bow down and worship Him, the Lord of the Universe.
Andy Prodger is a Hall of Fame caddy. Before his retirement, he shared the "Three Up's" of caddying. I was impressed with his wisdom. Here, I am adding one more "up" to that list to provide insight on living a productive and influential life.
As a professional caddy, Prodger was big on showing up on time and having the right attitude. I think that's a great life principle. Show up on time. Don't be late. Don't waste other people's time. And, if you're going to show up, show up with the right attitude--a positive attitude.
A caddy's job is to keep up with his "boss" or the professional golfer. I think the last thing the golfer needs is a caddy who won't keep up! Applying this principle to oursevles, we must do our part at work, at home, at school, etc. In fact, it is wise to do more than what we are required to do. Go beyond the call of duty or responsibility. Keep making improvements. Work with others. Even if you fail, keep showing up, keep pressing on.
Ah, the wisdom of not speaking! Keep the following as the guideline: speak less, listen more. That's straight from the Bible (James 1:19). Speak only when necessary. Speak through actions. Don't display your foolishness by opening your mouth!
I am adding this to Prodger's list because this is foundational to life. The Bible teaches us to run the race with the eyes on the prize and the finish line. That means we need to keep our eyes fixed on God. Life often throws curve balls--problems or taxing issues--that demand our attention and focus. Remember to look up to God. He is the greatest resource and ally. He will not fail us. He will guide, encourage, and strengthen us to finish the race well.