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September 24

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

When I was in college, I worked on a ranch for about three and a half years. I draw from several experiences and life lessons during that time of work. One of the summers I lived by myself in a one-bedroom government housing apartment. I didn’t have cable or a phone. I literally walked down the street to a payphone to make calls, as foreign as that might sound. I had a rough previous year of poor choices, but I came to my senses and was heading home to my Heavenly Father. It was one of the sweetest times in my life with the Lord. I would get up and read a chapter or two or ten. I would eat, pray, go to work, and pray while I worked. I would come home to eat, read several more chapters, pray, go to sleep, and do it all over again. I was meditating on those words day and night.

One morning on the way to work, I filled up one of those massive 64-ounce cups that certainly wouldn’t fit in the cup holder of a vehicle at that time. It was ice water. The truck I was driving was a standard, so the most logical place for the cup was between my legs, of course. To this day I don’t recall what distracted me. What I do remember is hitting an unexpected dip in the road and watching in slow motion as at least 60 of the 64 ounces of ice water shot out of the cup and sort of suspended itself in the air. I don’t think I could replicate this occurrence of miraculous water sloshing if I tried one hundred times. When it all came down, it did so with authority. I was drenched from the top of my head to my feet on the floorboard. And the most surprising part of the entire episode was my immediate response, without hesitation. I laughed!!! I don’t mean a chuckle. I mean a “good proper belly laugh” as Mel B. would say. I took one swig of what was left in the cup, and then it was empty. I laughed some more. I laughed again at work. For the first time in a long time, I felt like my heart was full of the right stuff. Had this occurred three or four months earlier, I can assure you that laughing would not have been my response. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).

This summer on my first official day in my new role, I was headed to school. I noticed one of those waxy cups in the cup holder. I was quite certain I reminded one of those sweet little angels to take it with them the evening before, but there it sat. I thought well, if it sits in this heat all day full of whatever is in it, that stuff might be everywhere before the day is over. I reached over to pick it up. Yep, it was already pretty mushy. My hand and fingers were unaware and unable to react in time to the flimsy nature of what was once a cup, and I ended up wearing the sticky contents in my lap. I paused, and I said, “that just happened!” out loud. Then, I laughed and said a Carmen Hamilton “dog-gonnit” and laughed some more. I laughed with some of the summer staff at school. Interestingly enough, I know three staff members at our school who have had the same experience already this school year with their morning coffee. The great thing is that every one of them has told the story while laughing. I cannot express to you the level of joy I experience working with Jesus-loving, Spirit-filled folks who know how to laugh, as well as living with five incredible women who know how to laugh, too.

Father, as we enter this new season and search our hearts for what you would have us faithfully entrust to you and your kingdom, may we do it cheerfully, with joy in our hearts, rejoicing in you. As unexpected dips in the road come our way during this process, may we fill our hearts so full of your word and your goodness that it erupts from and pours out of our mouths. May we laugh a hearty laugh in response to the bumps, because we know you are greater and bigger, and you know the way down this path. You’ve already prepared our steps in advance, and you’re right there to walk with us. May we be your bride, a wife of noble character. “May we be clothed with strength and dignity, and may we laugh without fear of the future” (paraphrase of Proverbs 31:25). Regardless of what circumstances we’ve been in, are in, or will be in, you have us in the palm of your hand. You will not leave us or forsake us. We rejoice in that, Father!!! Thank you! We love you! May we keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). May we embrace the uncomfortable times so you can do your work in us. Use them to strengthen our character and grow us to be the people you have called and created us to be. We rejoice in you! It’s in your name, Jesus, that we pray. Amen!

Philip Hudgens
Dean of Students; Campus Safety Coordinator; Varsity Football & Varsity Golf Coach; Parent, Classes of 2020, 2022, 2023, & 2025

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