Column: Learning to appreciate chapel

By Nicholas Dingus, Sports Editor

The first time I walked through the doors of Raley Chapel on move-in day in August 2014, I knew that I would be spending a lot of time there over the next four years. Every Wednesday – and some Mondays and Fridays – I would walk through those doors into the cavernous expanse of Potter Auditorium.

I thought I would spend hours examining the details of the stained-glass windows that line the outer walls, taking in the story that each one tells. Spiritual Life and chapel services are two of the things that drew me to OBU initially.

97 chapels in four years didn’t seem like a daunting task. People told me all the time, “Oh yeah, if you go to every chapel, you can finish your chapel credits by Christmas sophomore year.” It all seemed so simple at the time. I was rolling along during the first semester of my freshman year; I went to every single chapel for the first two months of the semester.

Eventually, I fell into a routine and became comfortable. While I started out strong, when I got comfortable I began to slack. I would think to myself, “I’ve already been to a lot of chapels this semester. I can miss one and sleep in.”

This attitude got much, much worse during the spring of my freshman year. I had a difficult Christmas break that year, and over J-Term I had started hanging out with people who were not building me up spiritually. Other than my roommate, I had very few positive influences in my life.

In addition to that, I had begun to work as a resident facility officer at OBU, working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the front desks in the dorms.

Working nights wrecked my sleeping schedule, and coupled with the fact that I didn’t have class on Monday, Wednesday or Friday until 11 a.m, I started sleeping through chapel on a weekly basis. I had stopped caring. I just thought that I would make it up the next year and end up finishing my chapels during my junior year.

I entered my sophomore year with a very similar attitude to the previous semester. I would go to a chapel every now and then, but largely I would elect to sleep in before my 12 p.m. class on chapel days. I never really thought about it honestly; I always had two more years to complete my chapel credits.

Junior year started, and I kicked myself into high gear. I went to nearly every single chapel during the fall semester. The chapel theme that semester was “Prayer: Beseeching the Lord through the Prayers of the New Testament.” I found myself really getting into these chapels; I remembered the appreciation that I held for chapel when I was a freshman, and I began to learn and grow spiritually. Unfortunately, this didn’t last.

Starting in the spring of 2017 I began to work at Visit Shawnee Inc. I needed this job not only for the job experience it was providing for me, but I also needed the money I was making to help pay for that semester’s tuition.

I had been working at OBU for the last two years as an RFO and as a teaching assistant in the communications department. The difference was that my jobs at OBU were scheduled around my class schedule, which allowed me to attend chapel.

VSI, however, required me to work 9-5 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I realized that this meant that I would not be able to attend nearly any chapels that semester. At that point, I had about 60 to 65 chapels left. I knew that I would be hard-pressed to complete the required credits the next year and resigned myself to the fact that I might have to write a few chapel papers.

I began this year intending on going to every chapel in order to lessen the number of papers I would have to write. I started out well for a while, until I started to get busy. I thought I had been busy the year before, but it was nothing compared to what I experienced during the fall of 2017.

I started having to miss chapels in order to have meetings before I had class and work in the afternoon.

While I went to every chapel I was able to go to, I didn’t get as many as I was hoping. The same thing happened at the start of this semester. At the beginning of March, I fully realized my situation, and haven’t missed a single chapel since then.

Despite my efforts, I was told that I would still be required to write a total of 39 chapel papers in order to graduate in May. While I know other people have had to deal with a more daunting number (I know of at least one person that will be writing over 80 to graduate), it was no small task.

I met with Dean Griffin at the beginning of April to discuss my situation. He encouraged me and told me to look at each paper as a personal devotion time. He told me to look at the papers as a way to learn something and try to get something out of each one just as if I had actually attended the chapel. I am so thankful for this advice. While writing these papers I was able to take away so many great lessons for leading a Godly life and was repeatedly encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone to allow myself to be used by Christ.

As I was writing these papers, I remembered the times I didn’t go to chapel for nearly whole semesters, and I realized the things that I had missed out on and all of the messages that could have spoken to me in times of need. I look back to the chapel series about the role and importance of the church and see my struggle to find a church home. I had no idea how large of a role the church plays in the life of a believer.

I have immensely enjoyed my time here at OBU and would do it over again in a heartbeat, but my one regret is not having made time for chapel while I still had time to go. I do not regret missing chapels because of work or meetings, but it was that those times during freshman and sophomore year when I made a conscious decision to sleep instead of going to chapel. I missed out on much of the spiritual growth aspect of OBU that I so greatly appreciated for almost two years.

If I were going to give any advice to underclassmen as I get ready to graduate, it would be this: go to chapel. When you’re tired and just want to sleep or you feel overwhelmed by classes or by life, go to chapel. Chapel is an important part of life at OBU and an institution that we are very blessed to have. Sure, it’s nice to get the credits so that you
can graduate, but nothing can replace being spiritually uplifted in the middle of the week. Don’t walk into Raley every week and treat chapel like a chore; it’s all about your attitude, and if you enter chapel each week with openness and a willingness to let
Lord speak to you, chapel will become one of the best parts of your week.

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