College is here! We’re supposed to have fun, find ourselves, and “broaden our horizons.”
However, being a Christian freshmen can be difficult. Spiritually and physically with the load of work and responsibility. Personally, I am majoring in Business and playing on the IUPUI golf team. I am doing fifteen credit hours and practicing six out of seven days of the week.
In addition, I am doing team workouts during the week as well. It has not been an easy transition. However, God has been so good through it. Not because He has made everything seem incredibly easy. No. He brings us into uncomfortable situations to bring us through them and grow us through it. If we ask Him to just take us out of an uncomfortable situation, then what are we learning? We are not trusting His plan or His grace that will bring us through whatever the situation might be.
This is what I have been realizing. He has been making me walk a hard and difficult path that requires a toughness that I didn’t have before. My faith has grown substantially, but it is not because of my own strength. Christ has dealt with all of my doubt and all of my fear. Wondering where a Christian group was, wondering if I was really supposed to be on this golf team, wondering how I could keep up with my schedule, etc. He has not let me down. At the right moment, He has provided me with strength and hope. I trust Him with all my heart. All of it.
What about you? His Word is where I draw strength. Let me help you visualize something. Working out is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. In my golf workouts, we focus on the muscles in our core. We must have strong muscles in our core to play golf at a high level. Just like how I must have a solid core physically, I must have a solid core spiritually. I must find key verses that fight off my fear, that refocus my mind when I am tempted, and strengthen my “spiritual core” as I meditate on them by day and by night.
I don’t just simply suggest that you do this. I sincerely urge you to do this. The Bible is meant for so much more than just light reading. It is an ocean of truth that ultimately tells us the greatest love story that has ever been told - the sacrifice that was made by Jesus because of His love for us. And His glorious resurrection that proves death has been defeated, our sin has been paid in full, and now we can know Him deeply because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The Bible is meant to be picked apart, held on to tightly, and mediated on. God knew we would need His Word throughout our lives. That’s why He wrote it to us! Why on earth would we not pour our heart and souls into reading it? Thomas Paine, one of our Founding Fathers, stated, “The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.” We cannot let our Bibles collect dust on the outside as we let it sit them unused in our dorm rooms. For our college lives, we must hold onto His Word so that we may defeat temptation, conquer doubt, be a light on our campus, and make a difference in the people around us. I would like to talk through some verses that have given me significant strength for each and every day. They have helped me make the transition into college and given me an incredible amount of hope and joy.
Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” At the surface, this is a great verse. But it is even better if you unpack this verse at its very roots. This Psalm is literally saying that God is “abundantly available” for help in tight places. We are in a tight place right now. As Christians, we are trying to live out our faith on a secular campus. We are surrounded by temptations everywhere from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. But God is abundantly available to give us the strength we need. We must only admit to Him that we ourselves are too weak, and pray to Him for strength. We need it more than ever now. As freshmen, it can be easy to cave to peer pressure and walk with the large crowd. I beg you not to. I refuse to walk the way of the world.
Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” And Isaiah 64:4, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” Personally, I want to know the answers to my life right now. Am I in the right major? What will my future job be? Am I really in the right place? Golf was taking so much time that I was wondering in my mind if I really wanted to do this. My mind was filled with these questions constantly. However, I was asking questions to things that I am not going to know the answer to for a long time. It’s not up to me to figure that out right now. But you know what is up to me and up to you as well? Trust. Simple, right? Wrong. Trust is a conscious decision that we have to make every single second of our day. I had to trust God with where I was and what He had me doing. As I began to trust, my fear began to fall away and it was replaced with hope and peace that only comes from Christ. This hope and peace produces a boldness to take on whatever your next task may be. An upcoming exam, an upcoming tournament, or even just another day. Like Isaiah 64:4 says, our God is the only God who acts for the one who waits for Him. Let’s trust and leave the rest to Him.
Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” This is staggering. God knows every single one of our days. Each day is filled with uncertainties to us. If we let it, it can drive us to fear. But God, the One who has ordained every single event of our lives, has known us before we were born. He knew when we would be born and He knows when we will die. Our futures are in His hand. We are each walking the path that was already laid for us before we were ever born. Therefore, we should never worry. We worry because we do not know. This thinking is faulty and can actually lead us to sin. Instead, let’s trust the God who has planned every single thing in our life. Let’s trust the God who has set us each on our different paths. When something unexpected happens in your life, think about this. God knew this would happen from eternity past. It didn’t surprise Him. He knows how to help me. So, I will trust Him and pray. We do not know what each of our paths hold, but we can be certain that He is going to give us the strength for every single part of our journey and at the end of the day, when we see Christ in His full glory and we lay our crowns at His feet, all of our work and all of our toil will glorify the One who bought our redemption with His own blood. That will be worth it.
These verses are some of my favorites that are near and dear to my heart. I urge you to strengthen your spiritual core by finding some verses of your own, whether they are these right here or others. Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God has spoken to us through His Word. Let’s actually commit to knowing Him through this book. It is a love letter. It is a manual for spiritual warfare. It tells us the things that are to come at the end of time. It is all these things, and more, but in a single book. That is mind-blowing. Saint Augustine once said, “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” Read these letters. Know them. Not to just know about the Bible. But to know the God Who wrote them. That is the purpose of the Bible. To know Him. Let’s draw near to Him because James 4:8 says to, “Draw near to God..” Why? Because “He will draw near to you.”
Nathan Cunningham, Member of Impact Christian Fellowship at IUPUI