You probably saw it, too: the first week of January, social media posts embraced our ability to riff on the year and declare a “2020 vision” — hopes, goals, and plans for the coming year. (High on my own list was continuing a therapeutic hobby I had picked up: bread making. Little did I know how popular that would become.)
Then came COVID-19, and a semester, and then a summer, and likely now a fall, were completely upended. Then came horrific, unjust deaths and a wave of social protests speaking out against racism and discrimination. Suddenly, the vision-setting posts at the start of 2020 seemed hopelessly naïve — or at least so distant as to feel like another lifetime ago. 2020 reality seems to drown out our 2020 vision.
But this year is indeed giving us clearer vision. Some things we see more clearly are painful. The unexpected shift to remote learning revealed deep inequities on our campuses that may have been more hidden and more prevalent than we realized. A laptop, access to a reliable internet connection, the ability to focus on studies in a home environment — all things that we now realize we may have taken for granted among many of our students. We are also recognizing and lamenting the ways that the deeply rooted sin of racism has invaded our Christian communities. What painful but necessary corrections to our vision.
But we are also seeing a clearer vision of the ingenuity, the innovation, and the resilience of our students, our faculty, and our staff. We are being reminded of the depth of the commitment our communities have to helping students — all students — learn, grow, and flourish as they pursue academic excellence rooted in the grace, truth, and love of Christ.
This is one of the beautiful realities about the power of God. Job knew this; even in the depths of his despair at losing everything he had and knowing that he had done nothing to deserve such an awful reality, he proclaimed, “With God are wisdom and strength; … He uncovers the deeps out of darkness, and brings deep darkness to light” (Job 12:13, 22, NRSV).
In our reimagined 2020 vision, there is much that should be mourned: hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, millions of lost jobs, entire seasons of activities canceled, graduations and other milestones not celebrated to their fullest extent. Countless lives are irrevocably changed.
But in our reimagined 2020 vision, we can also celebrate the light that God is casting on the hidden things that we would not have acknowledged otherwise; now we begin the process to cleanse and restore that which was in darkness. In our reimagined 2020 vision, we can celebrate the innovation and resilience that will propel our campuses into a new era, trusting that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
This issue is all about that reimagined 2020 vision; we hope that these conversations and stories can renew, refresh, and reinvigorate you as you continue on in this season of disruption and innovation within Christian higher education.
Morgan Feddes Satre is the CCCU’s communications specialist and managing editor of Advance. She is an alumna of both Whitworth University and BestSemester’s L.A. Film Studies Center and is currently pursuing her M.Div. at Fuller Seminary.