Monday begins my final week of undergrad at the University of Texas. The past four years have been like a ride on one of those rickety wooden rollercoasters: fast, fun, full of ups and downs, a little jerky and painful, but at the end of it all an enjoyable ride. As I reflect on the past several years of school and look forward to my next season of ministry, I’ve been trying to boil down all the thoughts and experiences I’ve had into something a bit more manageable to process. So much has happened, and God has been so gracious to grow me through this season. So, aside from a Bachelors Degree, here’s a few big things I’m walking away with from college.
My God is Good
I’ve learned a lot during this season of schooling, but nothing so clearly as the character of God. Time and time again, through trial and joy, God has proved himself a faithful and good father.
These few years have been full of twists, turns, and redirections as God has guided me away from my plans, small hopes, and idols into his bigger story for my life. I came into college to study engineering, I had everything planned out. I was going to get a good job, a good pay, and live comfortably and moderately. God had other plans. While working at a Christian camp (that I never planned to be at in the first place), He started pulling at my heart to go into ministry full time. I wasn’t happy to say the least. I found myself sitting on the wooden porch of my cabin, frustrated, but with open hands saying, “God if this is what you have for me I’ll do it.” Peace washed over me. That launched me in a new direction, into a new major, and led me into deeper involvement with the ministry I’ve been a part of for the past 3 years.
This is not to say that God will speak to everyone in the way He spoke to me. This is also not to say that trusting him necessarily means putting aside career or seemingly good plans and dreams. What I am saying is that God has been teaching me to trust Him more. And as I have followed His leading I have found more joy, more life, and seen His loving hand ever more clearly.
With each step in my journey I have learned more and more to look to the cross of Jesus to find mercy, grace and peace. I have learned more dependence as God has shown me my weakness and my need for Him. I have learned that it is true that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ, and that I can truly trust him as my rock and foundation.
My Time is Short
A second thing that has really become clear to me as college comes to an end is how short life is. Not in a morbid way, but just the frank reality that our time here is limited. It seems like a month ago I was moving into my freshman dorm and getting angry at my roommate for playing loud video games while I tried to sleep. So much has happened yet it feels like a heartbeat.
Life moves fast, and anyone I talk to who’s older has affirmed that it only get faster as you get older. This has really led me to consider how I use my time. If I only have this short life in front of me, am I using it faithfully?
I have spent my time in college not partying or watching netflix, but driving across the city to spend time with middle school and high school students, sharing the gospel every chance I get, teaching 4 Bible studies a week, and volunteering my time and resources to help run a student ministry. There are some people who would say that I missed out on “the college experience” because I didn’t treat it like a moral free-for-all. I have no regrets. I look back at the experiences I’ve had and only wish I had more time to give.
In this short time I’ve had, not every moment has been good. There has been a lot of pain, a lot of frustration. The other thing that I have learned over the past few years is that every moment, good and bad, has mattered. God has used every moment to grow me and shape me more into the person He wants me to be. All the joys, all the hardships, have had purpose. I look back and I see how God used even the darkest times to soften my heart and lead me to him. The moments that I thought were insignificant and trite ended up being the most important, and the things that God used to bring the most good.
My time here is short, but my short time matters.
People are Important
The final thing that I have learned these few years is how important people are, and how grateful I am for God bringing good friends and support into my life.
I look back over college and there have been three main groups of community that God has used tremendously in my life, and without whom I don’t know if I would have made it through the past 4 years. I can’t even express how blessed I feel that God has brought these people into my life, and how much I desire that others find the same kind of genuine, God-honoring family I have been given through my friends.
The amazing thing about each of those three groups is that they have all been shaped around the mission of God. They aren’t just a random group of people that happened to like hanging out together. They aren’t just Bible study groups that stay indoors and don’t get their hands dirty. I have been blessed to be surrounded by men and women who are passionate about the mission of God to the city of Austin and the world. And in the midst of that missional community, I have found the sweetest and most genuine care. The community that God has brought me has been so good to comfort me in times of hardship, point me to who Jesus is, and walk along side me as I try to follow Him.
People are important. What I am going to remember about college is not the assignments, even though there were a lot. It won’t be the grades. It won’t be the football games and wondering whether or not UT will ever have another winning season. What I am going to remember about college is the relationships, and how God has worked through community to encourage me and call others to faith.
God has been really good to me during my time at UT. Looking back at his faithfulness these past few years excites me to see what he’ll do next as I step into a new season of life.
The next two years for me will involve a Church leadership development program and continued mission to students in Austin, Texas. If you’d like to learn more about what I’m doing and how you can support me, please reach out!
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.