My LopeLife: She followed family, found community
Editor’s note: My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to [email protected] with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.
By Kara Becton
Special to GCU Today
I grew up rolling through the grass of my grandparents’ First Southern Baptist Church at 31st Avenue and Camelback Road. They had attended college next door at what now is known as Grand Canyon University; my mother, her brother and most of my cousins, aunts and uncles all had gone there, too. I was fed my faith with a purple spoon on the grounds where my family had once found their faith, too.
Through the years, many family members went back to teach, coach and even earn graduate degrees at their alma mater; many of the friendships that my family had were bonded at Grand Canyon. I continued to play in the grass and climb the trees of naivete, never questioning why my Christian faith and education was the favored endgame for me from the beginning.
As I grew older, I found a new passion for learning, and my curiosity rapidly overflowed into my spiritual life. I struggled with how my faith fit with the plans that God had laid out for my future.
Choosing a major and career path once I inevitably arrived at Grand Canyon rattled my relationship with the Lord because I felt alone in the process; it felt as if God had left me to make this life-altering decision on my own with no guidance. It consumed my thoughts and dreams and often left me questioning whether God had even given me a skill set that could enrich His kingdom here on earth.
Studying to get a degree in something that I somewhat enjoyed and could use to pay the bills someday seemed aimless and shortsighted, but what was I supposed to do? Wait on the Lord to show me a divine revelation for who He wanted me to be?
“Perhaps that is why I was pushed toward a Christian education,” I frequently thought. “Maybe God moves here more than other places.”
Then a close family friend – Dr. David Brazell, the coach who put Grand Canyon on the map – passed away last fall. Not only was he great friends with my grandparents and extended family; he and his beautiful wife, Mildred (we call her Mimi) played a grandparent-like role in my young life.
His service was held at the Southern Baptist church of my youth, and the building was congested with a surplus of family, friends and Grand Canyon alumni and administration. Everyone from GCU President Brian Mueller to Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students, to the entire baseball team came to pay their respects. I was in awe of the turnout of men who played for Coach and had witnessed his faith and heart for the school and students.
Through the duration of the service and gathering, friends of Coach shared beautiful stories of their time with him, both on campus and outside the gates. Each story had a glorious melody that filled the auditorium with joy.
For months I had wrestled with what the Lord was doing with me at Canyon and how He was maximizing my spiritual drive, and then He revealed His promise to me at the very church where I had first met Jesus. One word kept pounding on my heart:
The Lord had steadily led me to the private, Christian university 16 miles away from home not because it was easy or because it was my family’s dream, but because He knew that my unfettered mind would need a strong community of iron to keep it sharp (Proverbs 27:17).
The community that my family has built through Canyon has lasted three generations because it is built not in shared college experiences, but in a coexistence in the unity that God’s sovereign grace brings to His children.
I had been so consumed with choosing the right “path” for my future that I was overlooking the supportive community that would be with me for life. The small groups, community gatherings, clubs and classmates that I interacted with for the entirety of my time at Canyon acted as the map of my future and beyond, yet I had overlooked them and their roles in my life.
The purpose that God has set in motion for me in my walk through Canyon is to cultivate community because, like Coach’s friends, years from now it will not matter to me where I have been or what I have done. What will truly matter is the honorable community I have been privileged to join.
Now as I walk through the grass of 31st Avenue and Camelback, I think about the communities built and grown in this very place by my family and thank the Lord for deliberately placing me on a journey here at Canyon before I could even recognize it.
Jeremiah 1:5 sums it up:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.