The Responsibility We Carry
When I was preparing to graduate in the Fall of 2020 I found myself caught in the midst of several different emotions. I was ready to be done with college. I felt that I had accomplished what I had come to do. I was also not at all ready to be done with college. It seemed difficult to believe that, come August, my fellow Screaming Eagles would be returning to campus, but I would not be a part of it. During my three years at TFC, I had made some of the best friends I had ever known. I met brothers who, for the first time in my life, challenged me to holiness. Toccoa men, knit to my soul (1 Samuel 18:1-4), who loved me more sweetly than I deserved and more intentionally than I had thought possible. I met sisters who filled that sisterly gap in my life (I never had a biological sister). Toccoa women who caused me to wonder in awe at the kind gentleness and deadly seriousness of femininity. I met spiritual mothers and fathers. Saints who had walked the narrow way (Matthew 7:14) faithfully, that they might be able to look me in the eye and say with all confidence and certainty, “Do not quit. Jesus is worth it.” I shared brutal tears and heavenly laughs with both students and faculty alike. To date, I have had the joy of standing next to three of my brothers from Forrest Hall as they watched their brides walk the aisle towards them. Beneath the constant roar of Toccoa Falls, I found family.
I remember as graduation neared, hearing many of my friends lament with words something like, “I know that I will never find community like this again”, and they were right. Once they drove off of that campus, they would never again find a community like what we found at Toccoa Falls College, but they could create it if they so dared.
Christian community at TFC was made for us, but it was always meant to go beyond us. This was always the plan, friends. No, we will not find a place like her again, but we have been prepared to cultivate the growth of many such places for others to stumble upon as we disperse around the world (Matthew 28:16-20). We found Toccoa Falls College as glorious as we did because the people before us set a standard (1 Corinthians 11:1). We too can set that standard in our going. How cruel it would be to have people live together in such a wonderful place, while learning how to be wonderful to each other, only to ask them to leave it after far too short a time. But how kind it would be to prepare those people to reproduce that way of living all over this small planet that seems so immense, that the sun may never set on a community set on Christ. No, we most likely cannot, in our new stage of life, recreate the kind of community that sleeps in bunk beds together, eats every meal together, and worships twice a week together. That was for a time, and it is right and good that we do not stay there for too long. It would not be kind to the world for us to keep it for ourselves (Matthew 5:15). He has sent us out into the highways and the hedges (Luke 14:23), that our family may grow. We must go for now.
But take heart! There is a New Country coming. I have heard rumors of her King. He is creating a City (Hebrews 11:16) where we will rest, dine, and worship together, and there will be no need to ever leave. Once we enter the gates, we will never have to wonder where we are going next. We will be Home. He will be our light (Revelation 21:23), and there will be no darkness at all. We will love each other more fully than we ever could at TFC. We must answer this question honestly: do we trust Him to reunite us at the end of all things? Do we trust that He will gather His people, that He will make all things new (Revelation 21:5)? Maranatha, come quickly, Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:22).
Friends, Toccoa Falls College was never preparing us to learn how to spend a few great years, she was teaching us a new way to be. To be kind. To be loving. To be immovable. To be Screaming Eagles, sent out to love people who are not lucky enough to bear such a title.
This article was written by TFC Alumni Andrew Cowart (2020).