Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Change is the only constant.” That would certainly be one way to characterize the fall semester at ILC. Faculty, staff, and students had to make many adjustments to make in-person classes happen during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, to meet local and statewide regulations, students had to spend their days in the classroom spaced at least six feet apart and wearing face coverings. Because of the spacing requirements, some classes even met in the library and the dining hall. Choir was able to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and meet on the hill outside of the gym for the whole first quarter. Instead of the whole campus meeting together for chapel every morning, we had a select live audience, with the rest watching it in classrooms via video.
The COVID-19 precautions also affected extracurricular activities. Despite the challenges of physical distancing and mandatory masks indoors, we were able to have successful fall sports seasons. In fact, the cross-country team hosted its first meet in recent memory, and the volleyball team made its first-ever trip to the WIAA state tournament. Overcoming the challenge of acting and singing with masks, the students also successfully performed High School Musical, Jr. Finding creative ways to thrive, the tour choir continued its practices, our student literary/artistic journal hosted a poetry slam, and the band performed an outdoor concert.
As we attempted to navigate the various precautions and regulations, we had to change our plans constantly. It seems that just when we had something figured out, we needed to scrap what we thought was our perfect solution and go back to the drawing board. For example, just when we had made specific plans for face masks on campus, the governor issued a statewide order negating our careful planning. Just a few days before the start of school, the local government also made changes to some of their regulations.
While all these changes can be quite frustrating and can tend to raise the stress level, they prompt us to remember the purpose of Immanuel—to provide an education centered on Christ, Who never changes. As we are assured in Scripture, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) The flaws and contingent nature of even our best-prepared plans serve as helpful reminders that God is in charge and that He provides perfect plans that carry out His will rather than our desires. Furthermore, students, faculty, and staff were able to cherish every day that they had together on campus because they also knew that the semester could end abruptly at any time. We were able to more fully understand and share the psalmist’s proclamation: “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) We also were provided great comfort and calm, knowing that no matter the state of the coronavirus or what the changing precautions and safety guidelines were, we could depend on our Heavenly Father to guide and protect us according to His will. Indeed, it was amazing how He kept the campus healthy throughout the semester!
This constant reminder of how flawed and insignificant our own plans are also speaks to our lives as pilgrims here on earth. We may think we have all the answers and all the right plans for our lives, but the Lord in His graciousness reminds us that we are not in charge. What a relief! It is with the confidence of faith in our unchanging God and His grace that we can face the uncertainties and troubles of this world. We continue to work together at Immanuel to grow and strengthen this faith through the study of His Word. Indeed, we recognize that in a world of constant change, no better foundation for education can be found than the unchanging, infallible Word of God. We also are thankful that our school’s namesake, Immanuel, will never change: “God is with us,” and will be forever.
Daniel Schierenbeck is President of Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.