Independence, Texas doesn’t appear on most maps. It’s a small town in central Texas in the middle of nowhere with a little creek running through it. But in a summer where I had some amazing experiences, my trip to Independence might have been the most moving.
Baylor Line Camp (aka orientation) had started the previous day and no one was excited about the two and a half hour drive to see the place where Baylor University was founded. I tried to sleep on the bus but we played bus speed dating. I tried not to get irritated when every single Texan looked at me bug-eyed when I said I was from Iowa and asked in a loud Texan voice “How’d you end up down here?” Sleep would prove to be hard to come by the entire trip, foreshadowing for college I suppose.
Anyways, we get to Independence and do this boring seminar stuff and walk around this boring town and listen to some boring speeches and watch a not-so-boring sunset and walked up to the top of this hill where the remnants of the old Baylor stand.
We then got into lines in front of the pillars and sang songs of praise to the author and creator of it all. Worshipping my God with my new classmates, most of whom I didn’t even know, was incredible. After the last song ended, we were asked to stand there and reflect on what got us here, on how blessed we were by so many people to be where we were that night. I’m not a crier, but tears started coming down. Parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, friends, and teachers, I went through them all in my head and thanked God for them. My life has been so blessed by these people, and it has nothing to do with me. There’s no way I can take credit for any of it. It’s all Him, working in my own life and the lives of these people, that has blessed me immensely. I must’ve stood there looking ridiculous for ten minutes, I didn’t care.
Donald Miller’s most recent book was about story. He’s got a chapter about how most of the scenes in our story just disappear. We forget them. 99.9% of our experiences just happen and are gone. I think that is what is so powerful about what happened in Independence. I won’t forget it. I won’t forget the mix of joy, sadness, excitement, and confusion that I was feeling. It hit me all at once.
I was moving 13 hours away from all these people in a couple of weeks. I was leaving a whole lot behind. And my prayer is that four years from now, graduating from Baylor University, I leave Waco, Texas and can say the same thing, “I am leaving a whole lot behind.”
Here was the song we sang up on that hill.
You are holy, You are mighty
The moon and the stars declare who You are
I’m so unworthy, but still You love me
Forever my heart will sing of how great You are
In Waco, in Ames, in Uganda, I will sing of how great He is.