Friday is a bittersweet, but beautiful day. It’s the last discussion, last artisan workshop and a time where mentors guide students into the good work of leaving this conference well and heading back to their communities. Both of our talks this morning were centered around pushing students to really think and ask themselves how they will continue and apply the things they learned at Wheatstone.
“By this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God.” - 1 John
The alumni students had an intense, but wonderful discussion with Dr. Joshua Damu Smith and Peter David Gross: two men who care about listening. The rapport both had built with the students was evident in the questions they listened to and the responses they gave.
To recount the questions and responses in the session would spoil a good conversation between you and your student. But, do know, if you are the parent of an alumni student: they are reaching for real truths and working through how to live them out faithfully the way we are called to in scripture. They were reminded that their thoughts and feelings about their growth are not the same as their growth. They have changed for the better and Lord be with them: will continue to do so. Listen to them. Share from your own life. Love them.
Sanctification was a big theme. Peter David Gross shared a salient example: Sanctification is like God giving us an unbuilt tree fort. He looks with us at our forming and unbuilt lives, equips us with a hammer and nails and invites us to build it with Him. God invites us into the collaborative work of our own sanctification: at the end He gives us ourselves.
As anyone who has done a big project with a small child: the parent does most of the work. God does the work, not fixing us, but shaping us into who we are meant to be. Sanctification is not a burden — Christ took that burden on himself already. It is not a mantra of “be better” it’s “join in.”
God invites us into the collaborative work of our own sanctification
Afterwards students were invited into a time of intercessory prayer with each other and the staff present. On the shaded lawn, staff and students paired off: each sharing a prayer request and praying for the other. Joshua Smith and Julie Barrios, our spiritual director, were also present to offer blessings to students and staff.
“As you draw close to God, don’t be afraid of what emerges in you as He works in your uncertainty.” - Dr. Joshua Damu Smith
In addition, students heard from Dr. John Mark Reynolds one last time. This year, Dr. Reynolds has been attentive to many student questions and hosted a guided question and response time for his final talk with the alumni. It’s a longer talk, but clue into how he asks questions and responds to the bigger motives behind student questions. His remarks about relationships, college majors, building intellectual community (or finding it) are generous and insightful.
Today was also the last day of artisan workshops. Students created wonderful watercolor pieces with wet and dry techniques, composed original songs, learned to move freely in dance and much more. Pictures from their time are below!
May our works, though small in God’s universe, bless those with whom we have fellowship by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Picture credit: Ken Dong