For those of you who may not know me, my name is Brianna and I am now a rising senior at Pepperdine University. Earlier this last week, my pastor asked if I might be able to speak on the topic of love. Naturally I was excited, but then the excitement fell to the wayside as I realized the weight of the topic. Over the centuries, we as a people have sought to understand God’s love in myriad ways, and still we have yet to come close to understanding God’s love for us. But while we may not have the capability to fully understand His love, we are able to experience it.
The stain glassed windows in Stauffer chapel are probably my favorite thing about Pepperdine’s campus. As the sun sets, the glass catches the light so perfectly casting colorful rainbows every direction. But the beauty that I see when I look at the glass, isn’t just my fascination with the colors. The intricate design of the stained glass itself I think perfectly describes my experience of God’s Love; a beautiful mosaic.
Similar to the jagged pieces of glass, so too has my life been both broken and pieced back together. Just as no single piece of glass is identical to another, so too are the moments of my life deeply fragmented but all pieced together to comprise one beautiful story.
And as I stare at the glass, I can see both my own reflection as well as the light that shines through.
Before coming to Pepperdine; I hadn’t fully felt God’s love. Growing up I knew that Christ was my Savior, but it wasn’t until my time at Pepperdine that I finally understood Christ as my Beloved.
I have since experienced God’s love in all the beauty that is His creation. Vibrant sunsets have left my heart warm, the waves of the ocean have left me both humbled and eager to better understand just how vast His love is.
My sophomore year for Spring Break I went on a trip with Project Lead where we were able to visit 10 national parks within a week. My favorite park that we visited was Bryce Canyon in Utah; some of you may have heard of it or may have hiked here. Our group went on a night hike through Bryce; and this night has since embedded itself as one of my fondest memories.
The canyon that night was covered in snow; walking down steep slopes, one wrong step on a patch of ice could send you over the side of the cliff, definitely a test of trust. Once we had reached the bottom of the canyon, our leaders told us all to turn off our flashlights. The first few minutes my heart went racing; enveloped in complete darkness we couldn’t even see the person’s face who was a foot in front of us. Everyone screamed and held tightly onto the person next to them for fear that a wild animal would jump out and drag us away.
But as time moved forward, our eyes began to adjust and you could just see the wide smiles stretched across everyones face. One of our leaders led us to a patch of snow on the side of the trail and we all laid down. Gazing up at the night sky, I had never seen the stars shine so bright; it was the first time I had seen the Milky Way plain as day. Against a blank black canvas, God had painted a beautiful picture, billions of stars shining just for me. He placed these stars here, as a wonderful reminder of just how much he loves me.
In my time at Pepperdine I have also experienced God’s love in the form of sacrifice. Here at Pepperdine, time is always of the essence. As a student I sometimes wish that time would halt, if only for a moment so I could catch my breath. But amidst this feeling that time is running out, that I’m in a never ending race, I have experienced moments where time has stood still. Thoughtful conversations with lifelong friends; mentors and professors that have so graciously carved out time for me, who have poured into me and guided me through the trials of life; it is through their wisdom that I have found constancy in a world that is always changing.
These moments of sacrifice are the moments that I will always be thankful for.
Lastly, I have experienced God’s love in all His beautiful stories and letters. My favorite book is the book of Ruth; Ruth’s life has become an example for myself, a life of sacrifice and devotion that I hope will define my life. But so often I find that I am not Ruth, but the women at the well who is in desperate need of God’s grace.
My favorite verse in the book of Ruth is where Ruth says: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” For Ruth to risk it all, to care so deeply and so radically, to forfeit everything and follow Naomi; I believe resembles God’s love.
The life of Jesus is the best love story ever written; Christ who offered himself as a sacrifice to save you and me, is Love. How he loves us despite our flawed nature, is the truest form of Love I can imagine.