Friday, September 23, 2016
Hey guys, my name’s Fletcher. I’m a lil’ ol’ freshman navigating his first year of college. I am so remarkably thankful that the Lord not only put the notion to go to JBU on my heart, but opened the doors wide open for me to become a part of this beautiful, Christ-honoring community.
And here’s the thing, guys: I ought to be ashamed of myself for thinking Jesus wasn’t going to be nearly as faithful as he has been. Isn’t it so refreshing to be proved wrong of that?
I expected Jesus to show Himself in brand new ways in this new environment, (He’s awfully fond of doing that, ain’t he?) but dang, dudes. How rich have his mercies been? (Answer: pretty freaking rich, guys.)
Now I know that not everyone’s freshman experience has been the same. Many of my friends are hardcore struggling getting connected in this new community, feeling homesick, and finding out how Jesus works into their spankin’ new college identity. I know I’ve struggled with all three of those at some point for sure.
But for every hardship, every trial, and every piece of accounting homework that I’m procrastinating as I write this, Jesus meets our shortcomings and frustrations with love. Jesus loves the homesick. He loves the awkward guy in the social circle. He loves the girl sitting in chapel with more questions than answers.
And it’s that love that has already equipped me so much for the next four years. The Lord does not neglect us in the hardship and transition. He takes hold of our right hand and says, “Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
Here’s some of the wonderful truths Jesus has shown me in my first month of college.
Find your identity in Christ. College is widely regarded as the four most formative years in a man or woman’s life. More so than any other point in my life, I will be challenged about my identity. Who do I love? What do I value? Who am I? Where does my hope lie? And even in that safe little Christian school bubble, I’ve already had rock solid views I’ve carried for years challenged and shaken to the core.
We come to college to grow as people, but more importantly, we come to a Christian college to grow as sons and daughters of our King. Let’s take refuge in that! As we take on rigorous ideological concepts that might seem heavy or even in opposition to what we’ve believed, let’s approach education with a spirit of humility and Christ-likeness. The greatest truth of all is the necessity of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; everything else comes after that.
Take time to recognize beauty. Something I can tell you I’ve learned right off the bat: people at JBU do not take creation for granted. I see people with cameras taking pictures, not because it’s the cool thing to do, but because they seek to capture some of the beauty God has given us through nature. We read psalms in chapel that declare the mercies of the Lord like flowing streams and sweet honey. My classmates have asked my Western Civ professor every other day if we can have class outside. Hammocking is always a top priority. Certainly, JBU students hardly hesitate to stop and smell the roses.
Creation sings the story of the Creator! It wasn’t until I arrived at JBU that I began to comprehend the magnitude of that idea. Not only are the trees on the quad and the sun breaking over the campus buildings nice to look at; they proclaim the glory of the Lord. Romans 1:20 says: “His invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” God, in his infinite grace, gave us foggy September mornings, puddles to splash in, and the perfect bliss of a warm afternoon.
Have you missed out on anything today? I sure hope not. Check out some of that sick creation, dudes!
Rest in the Holy Spirit. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that being in the presence of the Holy Spirit includes vigorous hand-raising and a fervent zeal for the evangelization of the world. And these sensations are certainly not wrong!
But there’s more to it than that. Being indwelt with the Holy Spirit calls for a spirit of rest as well. And in these tumultuous college years, it’s a little outlandish to think that there will be any time for that sort of thing.
However, whether we like it or not, God commands us to do it. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Jesus has extended an invitation for us to take solace in Him, so you can bet your bottom that He knows it to be in our best interest. So if the Lord commands it of us, and we know that it’s good for us, then what could our hesitation to participate in the enriching rest found in the Holy Spirit possibly be?
Find time to rest, my dudes. Spend some time chilling in the Word. Hammock it up. Take a power nap. Get your prayer on. Whatever it is, take some time to thank God for the opportunity to rest and capitalize on it. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
Jesus is still teaching me so much about what college is going to be like these next four years, and I’m so excited to learn those things! But for now, I’m super thankful that He’s extended His grace enough unto me to show a little bit of what’s helpful for now. Isn’t it awesome how the Father’s timing works out like that?
What has our awesome God been teaching you lately? Take time reflect, take it to heart, pray about it, and use it to bring you closer to our Lord and the character of Christ Jesus. It’s a pretty refreshing, humbling process, guys, and if there’s somewhere to learn it, I can’t think of many places better than JBU!