When I think back to my time in college, I am often reminded of just how much change took place during those five years (yes, I was one of those special students that finished a four-year degree in five). When I started college, I was living with my grandparents in Springfield, MO. I had few concerns and responsibilities in life and was basically living for the moment. Four years later, I had transferred to Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, FL and was about to graduate with a Pastoral Theology degree. I was married, owned a home, had a full-time job and couldn’t wait to start working on a seminary degree.
Even looking back on it now, I get dizzy thinking about how quickly God changed the course of my life. The direction, focus and clarity that came to me during those few short years is something I will never forget. It is one of the reasons that the past nearly ten years of my life has been devoted to helping other college students find that same life focus.
I believe that in God’s providence He allowed me to see some important truths through the words and influence of various mentors and teachers in my life at that time which changed the course of my life. Here are three of the truths that helped me to see life more clearly. They are just as true for college students today as they were for me as a college freshman eighteen years ago.
- God is the only source of ultimate and lasting good.
During my youth, I had experienced some very difficult circumstances. My father suffered permanent disabilities through a tragic accident that I had unintentionally caused when I was fifteen. There were other painful life situations that my family and I had endured. Through all of this, I had come to see first-hand that God was still the only source of goodness. Even in tragedy and pain, I had felt and seen His guiding hand and I did not see that anyone else had a better solution or alternative for how the tragedies of this life were going to be corrected. God had opened my eyes to the story of redemption through Jesus Christ and everything else paled in comparison to that truth. Sitting through doctrines class at a Christian college gave me the words to articulate what I had experienced in my own life.
- Everything you chase to bring fulfillment outside of God disappoints.
I don’t have a testimony of riotous living, but I had experienced enough of sin in my own life to know the end is destruction. Growing up in a pastor’s home gave me a front row seat to the consequences of poor choices and behaviors in the lives of so many people. I came to see that all of humanity, including me, was broken. Even the allure of youth as a college freshman could not overcome the truth that gnawed at my heart; where will all of this lead in twenty years? I know many will argue that Christianity makes sense for someone that has nowhere else to turn, but my life was not on the rocks when I committed to follow Christ. I am so thankful that the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my life allowed me to see the truth that although my life seemed put together on the outside, I was broken beyond repair in the eyes of God. My only hope was the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
- Eternal rewards are not measured on an earthly scale.
This is a lesson that I am continuing to learn. I have little to say about this because I am not satisfied with my own application of this truth. This is merely an acknowledgement that even in the realm of Christianity and spiritual growth there is a tendency to seek the fame and notoriety that are, in substance, the same as what consumes celebrity culture of our modern age. Particularly as American Christians, we are averse to anything that feels like pain, difficulty or trial because we have bought into the lie that Jesus wants us to always be happy and successful. As a college student, it is important to understand that in God’s economy, the first are often last. The weaknesses in our life allow God the opportunity to show His power and receive glory for Himself. Don’t be afraid to live a life of obscurity and faithfulness in service for God. What is done for him in secret during this lifetime He has promised to reward openly in the eternal life to come.