Yesterday was Thursday, March 12, 2015 – my first VU Faith Forum – and a day I won’t soon forget. It was one of those days where all seemed to be right with the world. The hint of spring was undeniable and it seemed to make nearly everything and everyone a little brighter. As the sun’s warmth thawed out the remnants of winter, nearly 100 members of our VU family were warming up the back room at Shakespeare’s Pizza on the Southside.
A day later, my head is still spinning a bit from the event and I find myself asking why. What was it about the meeting that was so impactful?
The first reason is rather obvious but is one I hope we can all never lose appreciation for: We were at work sponsored event, eating pizza and openly sharing about our faith. VU is the exception to the rule in so many ways, but perhaps no way is more amazing to me than the company’s commitment to helping us explore faith on a personal level. “Enhance lives every day” may mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but internally it includes a recognition of the impact the spiritual realm has on us all. This is amazing. This is unique. This is something special.
The second reason I loved the faith forum was because of the spirit in the room. Yes it was warm outside. But I could make an argument that the feel of that room was even warmer. As I looked out across the room, I saw lots of familiar faces (that’s a big deal for the new girl) and encouraging smiles. A month ago I knew of the VU Culture – it is one of the main reasons I am here – but now I can not only say that I have experienced the culture, but that I am becoming a part of it. And it feels good to be a part of something special.
But more than anything about yesterday, I sensed we weren’t alone. The Bible says in Matthew 18:20 ”For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” As Matt talked about running a better race than the empty ones of this world, like chasing money or prestige, I couldn’t help but feel God’s pleasure. You see, doing our work well is exactly what He calls us to do throughout scripture, but he also calls our work to be a good thing, not a God thing.
And there are days and seasons where it is difficult not to let the good thing of our career become an ultimate thing – something that we try to fill a hole in our heart that only God was created for. Even when we know better, even though we know it will still leave us unfulfilled and searching, we still struggle with the temptation to try it anyway. Again and again.
And that is why these events in our workplace have such incredible power. They give us an opportunity to form a community of faith that collectively says I will honor God by doing my work with excellence and integrity but without thinking this is my identity or source of ultimate fulfillment.
At the end of the VU Foundation video, Gary Sinise commends the efforts of the VU employees who give of their money and resources for the betterment of others saying, “You are planting seeds of goodness that will grow forever.” His words echoed in my head as I left Shakespeare’s yesterday. Because just as that is true for our Foundation, it is also true for our faith community. We are planting seeds, sometimes watering seeds and sometimes just shining a light – but rest easy, these are seeds that will grow forever.