In the next few weeks, a wave of 17 and 18 year olds will enroll at our colleges and universities as freshmen. They have grown up in a post 9/11 world, too young to remember the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. They were mere infants, or yet to be born when that fateful morning dawned.

They are digital. Their earliest memories were formed with PCs and laptops. They have grown up with iPods, iPhones and iPads. Social media is their world. The internet was here long before they were born.

In some ways, their world is unique to any world that has gone before. But in others, they will share in the same experience that shapes every generation. Growing up, leaving behind all the old securities, the familiar routines, the shelter of home. They will carry with them the excitement of launching out on their own, without parental restrictions and supervision. And, at the same time, they will carry the anxieties and insecurities of being on their own, of being alone. They will pursue the hopes and dreams of a life they cannot predict.

Somewhere in a box, in a dark corner where we store such things, my Baylor freshman “slime-cap” still sleeps: the class of ‘69, “Ever faithful to the line.” My wife’s is there too, the class of ‘71. They are soaked with memories: Making new friends; finding our way; finding each other. A half century has passed. We celebrate our 50th anniversary this year.

Like the crowds of 5,000 and 4,000, we have received bread from His hand when we did not know its source. We have taken up 12 and seven baskets full, running over, more than enough to meet our needs, blessed beyond our expectations. (And still we doubt?) (Mark 8:18-21).

We have sent our own children off to college, two to Baylor. One to the University of Minnesota. I have stood in the silence of their empty room, grieved their going, while celebrating their “growing up.” For each of them, as for us, it was the beginning of a new journey. One that never ends this side of heaven.

This year, our oldest granddaughter is among the incoming freshman class at the University of Wyoming. We are excited for her, as are our son and daughter-in-law. We are thrilled and proud of the young woman she has become. At the same time, we know the emptiness she will leave behind, how she will be missed, and the challenges she will face. But we have learned, that in and through it all, God is faithful.

The incoming class of 2022 must hear again the voice of God as He spoke to young Abraham in a far off and distant land, “Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father’s house to a land which I will show you … and I will bless you … and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-2).

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit Email

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