This was my first “SuCo” since coming to Boone. I didn’t know what to expect on many levels, but I certainly expected good things. Summer Conference took up a large space in the back of my mind as I considered moving into RUF in the summer of 2019. The stories of SuCo hype it up to be the “best week of the year” for RUF. So it was easy for my expectations to be unrealistic for what the week would mean for group development, for my family to be immersed in the life of students and vice versa, and for fun.
It was not a perfect week by any means. It was personally chaotic, as I sought faithfulness in teaching my seminar, spending time with our students, and to the family. I don’t know how well I did any of that, but I can witness to this: God was working. It was truly a joy, at the end of the week, to hear students describe how the week blessed them in ways I was entirely removed from. Here is one reflection from a student:
Let this be a reminder to all of us that our God loves these students RUF serves and is committed to bringing them to himself and to maturity for his purpose of love.
For me, one of the sweetest parts of the week was leading my seminar on “Deconstruction, Doubt, and Certainty.” I took the seminar focused on “skepticism,” and I decided to take it in a direction I was sure students would not fully anticipate and was not at all sure they would want to go. Rather than walk through “defeaters” of faith (suffering, evil, hell, harder to digest portions of Scripture), I asked the group a different kind of question: “What is a question?” More importantly, what’s IN a question? My invitation to students was to consider their questions, to hold them up for investigation as windows into the dynamic realities of our hearts and minds and souls. Questions are instrumental in growing in faith, and it is when they– and we– are submitted to the Lord in trust that we question fully and openly. The conversations that came out of this seminar were deeply encouraging. I spoke with students from around the country about their own questions and our shared struggle to hold our questions in the tension of what reality is like while simultaneously living by faith in the risen Jesus, because he alone holds it all together. Here is one excerpt from the first day of the seminar, where we discussed the nature of doubt.
“When our posture for asking the question is one of trust in God—even if that trust is weak and brittle and wrestling and struggling and messy—that opens us up to hear the genuine answers God gives, and to trust him enough to continue listening when the answers are not tidy or everything we think we want and need. Doubt may occur in our lives, even long seasons of it. It certainly has in my life. But that’s not because doubt is inevitable. It is possible to wrestle with heavy and unsettling questions from a posture of trust, and for our faith to be strengthened through the questioning.”
Rob Herron is the RUF Campus Minister at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.