Don’t ya’ll worry, my parents who paid so much for my college education (and for whom I am deeply grateful)…I DID learn a lot at college. Yet, beyond just Greek vocab, dates of wars, and ways to preach, I learned some valuable life lessons. Such great lessons, in fact, that it makes the whole experience well worth the money. But not worth it enough to repeat. Oh wait, I’m going to grad school…
Each semester at college and each summer, I would try to come up with a one-word theme that encapsulated what the Lord taught me during that time – along with a passage. I keep the card with those words stuck on the side of my desk – so I can look at it and reflect on my life. As if I had time to do that…
But when you’re studying for final exams, anything is a welcome distraction (including blogging!). So here’s a look back at the lessons the Lord taught me these past four years, pulling out a couple of those words:
- SMALL (1st semester freshman year). This one was such a difficult lesson to learn that the Lord had to teach it to me every year – oh wait, He’s still teaching it to me! I can summarize it with a quote my Dad told me many times freshman year: “Are you willing to be insignificant for God to use?” As a freshman, I wanted it all. I thought I was a big-shot. But I learned quickly that just because you are valedictorian of a high school class of twelve or star actor in a small Christian school doesn’t mean you’re some sort of hot-shot. I quickly became jealous of those who did better, had more opportunities, or rose higher and faster in the ranks than I did. In fact, from freshman year all the way through junior year, I would describe my life as “the wilderness” (see this previous post). No opportunities. No positions. Well, except for being the outreach leader of a small Bible club at a low-income apartment complex. Every Saturday morning, with just a half-dozen other students, I would lead a simple little program with games, songs, and a lesson. No one noticed. It wasn’t any big thing. But looking back now, with the Bible club under a new freshman leader and three times as many students coming, I see that I probably made more eternal impact during those “silent years” at Bible club than I ever could’ve had I been in all those positions. All I’m called to do is to faithfully serve in whatever position God gives me, well-known or unknown. That’s why SERVE was my word 2nd semester freshman year (out of Matt. 20:28 and Mark 10:45). I need to be #here2serve…even when no one notices – ESPECIALLY when no one notices! The words of the Lord to Baruch (Jer. 45:5) are especially convicting: “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…”
- CONTENT (summer after junior year). I am a very discontent person. When I’m in school, I want it to be summer. Yet during the summer, I want to be back at school. When I’m overseas, I can’t wait to get back to the US. When I’m here, I want to get out of the country. Will I ever learn? Thankfully, God is patient – and He’s surely patiently revealed many weaknesses to me over these years! I constantly yearn for something more, whether something immoral or just plain materialistic. I want more PLEASURE (my word from freshman year’s summer). I want more things. I want more likes on Facebook. More reads on my blog (go ahead, share it!). More friends. More popularity. More comforts. It’s then that I’ve realized that Christ’s presence is all I need – He is way more than enough! Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:11, Psalm 23:1, Colossians 2:9-10, and 2 Corinthians 12:9 have all been a help to me. They’re like my pestering sidekicks, constantly reminding me of the sufficiency of Christ. When I’m tempted to lust. When someone else wins the election or gets to preach. When life doesn’t go as planned. Using these passages, I find that I can OVERCOME (my word from 1st semester sophomore year, Ps. 37:23-24) my temptations and truly experience CHANGE (2nd semester junior year, 2 Cor. 5:17).
- PLAN (1st semester junior year). Wow, these words do fit nicely into categories. The previous two dealt with things I’ve learned about myself. This one is the best because it’s what I learned about God, the Hero of my college years. The One who helped me on late nights, on big projects, and in difficult relationships. On days when I cried by my bed or laughed till it hurt. He was there for me, through it all. I’ve learned how sovereignly faithful He has been – how He has a divine plan for me (Jer. 29:11). How I can PRAY to him in times of need (one of the most valuable skills I have developed and the theme for 2nd semester sophomore year). How I can have HOPE of a better day coming (my word for the summer after sophomore year). And how one day, when hope becomes sight, I will see Him REIGN over everything (1st semester senior year, 1 Cor. 15:24-26) – even death itself! This hope gives meaning to my every day – and a reason to praise my God!
That’s why, looking back over these four years and all the words, I’ve decided on the last word for this 2nd semester of my senior year: FAITHFUL.
But there are so many passages I could choose with that word. So many Psalms I have read as I’ve tried to read one before bed every day since freshman year. It’s part of God’s simple biography listed over and over again in the Old Testament (remember that word “lovingkindness”/chesed). God’s faithfulness is attached to His providing a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13), forgiving us (1 John 1:9), and helping us do what He’s called us to do (1 Thess. 5:24). But I like the simplicity of Hebrews 10:23, and I think this is a fitting way to conclude the end of this school year – yes, and my entire undergrad career!
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.