Fuller’s Dean of Psychology Reminds Students of God’s Promises
Students, staff, and faculty who escaped the rain by ducking into Travis Auditorium for all-seminary chapel on Wednesday, October 14, were treated to a service with a distinct African American flavor. The crowd became a choir as it was led in harmonizing a song a cappella, while students played djembe drums in the aisles and the worship leader sang a solo over the repeating chorus: “We are not alone, God is with us.”
When School of Psychology Dean Winston Gooden approached the podium to speak, technical difficulties with the monitors caused Professor John Goldingay to call from the back row: “Preach it loud, African-style, so we can all hear you – let go!” Following that comment, Gooden indeed preached a powerful sermon, “The Promise of His Presence,” punctuated by affirmative responses from his listeners.
Using Isaiah 43:1-5 as his selected text, Gooden pointed out that the promises in the passage were made to the people of Israel when they were defeated, exiled, and questioning God’s purpose. Everyone goes through crises, and “crises create questions. When in times of crisis,” he observed, “we can often experience feelings of abandonment.”
But Gooden held up these verses as a beacon of hope, with God’s main message being “You are mine, I have not abandoned you.” As his creation, we not only belong to God, but are also so precious to him that “there is nothing God will not do to restore us and make us understand we are his own,” Gooden affirmed.
However, Isaiah 43:2 shows that while we belong to God and are precious to him, “there is no promise that we won’t have trials or difficulties,” Gooden stated. “But we are promised that we won’t be destroyed.” In a crisis, God’s presence is “not just a sweet song; he will be there in the midst of it to be your deliverer and savior.”
Gooden rounded out his message with the question of our response to such a promise. God’s purpose for us is twofold: to claim the promise as our own so that we will not fear, despair, or give up, and to proclaim this promise to others.
Closing his message, Gooden drove home the main point, stating strongly, “Never, to the last syllable of recorded history, never will God abandon you.”
A choir of Fuller students performed a gospel song to end the service, proclaiming to the crowd in harmony: “God will take care of you.”