Chapel changes: a blessing we should be thankful for

Fifteen and four. It’s the new talk around campus, and no, I am not talking about baseball scores. Fifteen and four is the big talk on campus because they are the new rules: Your presence is mandated at 15 chapels and four conferences every semester. It’s true. And, though not much has been said about the punishment if you weren’t to abide with this new rule, could it be true that you are doing the punishing to yourself by not going to chapel?

I don’t want to write to you today to rant about the new chapel rules (because I am happy about them) and you will probably not take me seriously because I am one of the “lucky ones” who is graduating; the rules don’t apply to me. I want to write to you today to give you a warning. I want you to picture me walking into your dorm room and setting off the alarm at 9 a.m. while screaming, “Get up! It’s time for chapel!” I want to tell you that in my years here at Biola, I have missed out. I have missed and made up most of my chapels, and now I regret it.

Every night my roommate would come home and as we talked, she would tell me about how great chapel was. I was so envious that she had the stamina to get up a whole extra hour early just to go to chapel while I just kept on snoring away. I used to tell her to just wake me up, no matter how much I fought her. She finally got tired of fighting me. It went on like this for my entire Biola career.

Then, in January, I was asked to speak at afterdark chapel. I felt kind of guilty, like I didn’t deserve to speak when I only went to 5-10 chapels per semester. As I began to prepare for what I was going to say, the Lord would always speak to me on behalf of the Biola students. On one occasion, I was praying and asking the Lord for guidance, and He spoke to me so clearly saying, “Carrie, can you just tell those students that I love them?” I did just that as soon as I stepped up to the microphone. I am convinced that that small sentence was for at least one person — someone needed to hear those words that night.

As I started to reflect on my message and the time I spent preparing for it, I began to think about all the times that the Lord had a message for me, but I just slept right through it. I thought about all the hard work the speakers had put into their messages for us, speaking truth into the Biola community that they thought was vital. And then, it hit me. Those messages were for me, and I missed them. Because we aren’t at church where the demographics are diverse, and we aren’t at a home Bible study — we are at a chapel that has been specifically designed for Christian college students, at Biola, living in Southern California. You see, a lot of the classic comebacks I could easily write in this article would be things like “You should want to go to chapel because thousands of people wish they could be in your shoes,” or “You should feel grateful that you even have the privilege of going to chapel.”

Yes, these things are true, but I am here to tell you today that you shouldn’t miss chapel because the Lord has a message for you. He is speaking through the speakers and leaders of this campus because He knows that you are the one who is going to hear what they say.

If the whole school is forced to go to chapels, then the whole school will be listening to the same thing that the Lord is trying to tell Biola. I can only imagine how much better my conversations with my roommate would have been if I had been in chapel.

How much better will our fellowship be with one another if we are all being spoken to about the same things? My challenge to you then, is to take this new rule and look at it as a blessing. God is doing big things here at Biola. Let’s get excited; let’s get pumped up about God and His Word. Let’s forfeit sleep to gather as a community and worship and listen to what the Lord has to say to us. Don’t make the same mistake as me. I regret not being there all of those semesters, and I can never, ever get back the times that I have missed. Change is upon us; embrace it.

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