We are living the brand. We have prayed, thought, walked, and poured ourselves into it. We strive through it every single day. It’s embodied in us and it’s what brings others back. We are living in hope, promise, and future. We are part of the sweeping brand movement of Olivet Nazarene University.
We have t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants, active-wear, lanyards, water bottles, planners, folders, and bumper stickers. We have football, basketball, soccer, swimming, volleyball, and numerous other sports teams and their paraphernalia. We have pictures, the occasional newspaper clipping, tagged photos on facebook, memories, changed lives, a promise for a prospering life from God. (“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.)
Why do you think alumni come back with such regularity? Nostalgia is a big part, yes, but the hope that they felt in this place—the hope that God has done and is still doing something amazing in their lives—draws like a magnet. They want to be reminded by this place that God is advancing His kingdom forward with their lives and our own.
Think about it. College is the embodiment of hope (no duh, I know)—hope for the future: hope in a degree, a job, a spouse, a dream. We are the future leaders of our fields, companies, nation, and world. We are being molded to become God’s vessels in the world, wherever He leads us. In all honesty, it’s overwhelming, daunting, and uncomfortable. We’re being refined by trials and learning perseverance in order to “be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4)” and to bring God glory.
1 Peter 1:7 states that “These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” And also Zechariah 13:9 “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
There’s hope in the change though. Olivet’s atmosphere has been a catalyst for me and my spiritual growth, always reminding me of what’s on the other side of the change, perseverance, and pain—healing.
While the future, the change, and the perseverance may be daunting, the opposite side of the coin is true as well; it’s exciting! God is making something of our lives. We are finally on our way to becoming adults so we can make something of ourselves (and not be prodigies to do so)!
The ultimate mark of this (and of the Olivet brand) is the diploma—the single piece of paper that we’ve been waiting our whole lives to receive. It forever proclaims that we are part of Olivet and the hope, both sacred and secular, that it represents. So while it may be a brand, it is one that I am proud to claim as my own. I’m living in hope. How about you?