As I pack my bags to return for a third year of college, I find myself reflecting on the past two years. Upon reflection, I see numerous milestones marking my journey as a college student. Yes, some of these markers appear "shinier" than others, but even in the deepest valleys, God's grace found me.
During this time, I've witnessed God move in areas I least expected. For example, I met my roommate online through this matching system, which seemed a lot like online dating, but for roommates. The only criteria I searched for included God. "As long as they knew God, we could figure it out," I thought. This year, I'll be living with the same dude for the third straight year. Ha, God sure blew me away!
It's funny how you create certain expectations for college, but the reality is: nothing turns out the way you expected it to. Thankfully.
You see, college isn't about getting a piece of paper with your name on it. It isn't about asking hundreds of people, "What's your major," or "Where are you from". For me, college exists to grow your mind and your heart on numerous levels.
You'll take classes you never expected to take, and (surprise) might actually enjoy them! You'll meet people from all around the world, and know more than just their name and major. You'll find new restaurants, coffee shops, and ice cream parlors, and adopt them as your own favorite spots. And you'll be stretched in every way imaginable, unless you refrain from this work of art.
But, the best part about college, for me, involves the chance to become exactly who God intended for you to be. There's no more curfews. No more homework checks. Nobody tells you what you can and cannot do (within reason). You possess the freedom to decide who you are and who you will become.
With faith in Jesus as my foundation, I want to share a few short pieces of advice with you:
1) Discover yourself. You might not know yourself as well as you think you do. Within your heart lay undiscovered passions and desires waiting to come alive. Since attending college, I've learned how much I love coffee shops. Because of this, I've frequented a few places in Fort Worth, and developed friendships with workers from each place. Now, I search for the best, local coffee shops wherever I travel. Well, you might hate coffee. But, God designed you with specific passions worth discovering. Go, take a friend, and discover yourself!
2) Discover God's Word. For me, this one strikes a chord. Your schedule allows you to set an appointment with God each day, where you can grow in your knowledge and love for Him. There's no better place to learn from God than from the book He inspired. Take time each day to yourself, and listen for His voice as you study Scripture. Sometimes, it's not even about us, but about learning how faithful God remains throughout time. While it's said you can always have too much of a good thing, you can never drink too deeply, or strongly, from the Word of God.
3) Discover God's People. With a message like the Good News of the Gospel readily available, we can't help but share Christ with our generation. Find a church, be committed, and get involved. While it's not a bad thing to visit multiple churches, you will make the most of your time, once you decide to commit your time and efforts to one. Remember, college only lasts four years (unless you're doing "victory laps"). Time flies, but it's awesome when you surround yourself with the right people found in a Gospel-centered community.
If you're afraid, or even too scared to admit your fears, don't be. God gave you this time, this place, and this community to face your fears and to discover who He intended for you to become. And when you become afraid, remind yourself of God's faithfulness:
Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
2 Timothy 1:7, "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
As you prepare for your first day of college, remember how God brought you here. Not an ounce of your breath has gone to waste. He's protected you, provided for you, and carried you to this very moment. How could His infinite faithfulness run out now?
Finally, I want you to know how I care for each of you. We need bold servants of Christ to rise up and lead this generation. If you hear this voice inside telling you to read, to pray, to lead, to love, to serve, to worship - don't worry, it's the Lord's. He's carved a path ahead of you, and all He's saying is, "Come, sons and daughters, and follow me."
If you need help, advice, or prayer, feel free to contact me. I will personally take the time to respond and do my best to help you transition into this season of life. And if you happen to attend Texas Christian University, or a nearby school, let me know. I'd love to meet with you, grab some coffee (if you're up for it), and hear your story. You're also invited to join me at the Village Church in Fort Worth on Sunday mornings! I'm just a brief message away.
Or, just drive to a nearby coffee shop. I'll be there, no worries.
I pray the infinite grace of God will lead you into this season of your life with all joy and blessing. Likewise, I ask God to stretch our hearts and lead us into a deeper knowledge and love for Him and His people; so that, though we may be weak, His spirit would remain strong in us. Allow the unfailing love of God to carry you into your dorm room, your classrooms, your restaurants, your coffee shops, your sorority/fraternity houses, your fields, and your courts. He's carried you thus far, and He's not letting go now.