No, I’m not talking about people standing up for their faith on college campuses. (I did see God’s Not Dead yesterday, though. Awesome, not-actually-too-cliché movie. But that’s another blog post.)
Nope, I’m talking about my unwillingness to surrender my worries, hopes, and dreams about college to Jesus. If there’s something you’re worried about that you aren’t giving up, whether it’s a dream school, dream job, or dream date, this blog post is for you.
On Wednesday, I was tipped off that I would be hearing back from my top choice school soon. Very soon. I was even given a specific notification date and everything. Now, it’s nerve-wracking enough knowing that it’s the season of hearing back from colleges, but it’s about ten times worse when you’re given the exact date that you’ll find out.
So, that evening, I went home from youth group earlier than I normally do and started frantically flipping through the Bible, armed with a pen, searching for as many verses about peace that I could possibly find. If this college decision was going to become a reality in a matter of days, I needed to be prepared for it, gosh darn it. And to be prepared, I had to be peaceful. So that if I didn’t get in, it wouldn’t be the end of the world as I knew it. Right? Right.
So I was traversing through the latter part of the New Testament (I started at Philippians 4 because that’s the first peace verse I could recall) and then I hit a certain two pages of Colossians and God decided to blow my mind..
Seriously. These two facing pages told me everything I needed to know concerning my college worries. It was AMAZING.
So I’m going to explain these pages. There were SO MANY VERSES in quick succession, but they ALL applied so much to my current situation and encouraged me for the weeks ahead. So, without further ado, let’s start with the first: Colossians 1:19-23.
For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross–
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him–if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.
This was God basically telling me what actually matters in the grand scheme of things. Not whether I become part of the Tribe or not – but the fact that Jesus reconciled God to us through His sacrifice, and that our calling is to have a steadfast faith in Him. This was my first dose of perspective.
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.
He got me there. One of the top reasons my top choice school is my top choice is because it’s one of the most academically challenging in the country. I love a good academic challenge, and I love to learn. This verse reminded me that, as all good things come from God, the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom also comes from Him. And since God is on my side and since He knows that I want to learn and be challenged, I know I’ll keep learning and growing in knowledge wherever I end up going to school.
Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
Another “hey, this is what life’s really about” verse. Everything I do should be about growing up in HIm, not growing up in my own pride or selfishness, and with a humble and grateful heart for all that He’s given.
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Welp. This was convicting. Have I been swayed by empty deceit based on human tradition? Absolutely. I’ve been swayed by the idea that I have to be the best academically, and go to the very best school I possibly can, and I’ve been swayed by the idea that being smart is everything. It’s not. The fact that I’ve been filled up by Jesus is everything. I got accepted into the very greatest thing–eternal life in heaven with Jesus–and it didn’t require a better GPA or SAT score. Thank God.
These are a shadow of what’s to come; the substance is the Messiah.
Though everyone around me acts like college is the biggest deal ever, it, like everything else, is only a shadow of what’s to come.
If you died with the Messiah to the elemental forces of the world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations?
They are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.
Though Paul isn’t specifically talking about colleges here, I think it applies to me–if I do get accepted into the school of my dreams, there’s the possibility of my fruits of the Spirit–humility especially–suffering a little bit and being replaced by pride and selfishness. Something to keep in mind, and something to be careful about if I do get accepted there.
So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.
More conviction! Yay! I actually feel like I’ve been setting my mind more on God than on college overall, but college is still an idol in my life if it’s invoking worry and fear in me.
And have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.
Again, no matter which college I go to, I have God’s promise of renewed knowledge to take with me. This is another pre-decision reminder to stay righteous–I’m not better than anyone if I get into my top school, and I’m not worse than anyone if I don’t get in.
Above all, put on love–the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and signing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Christ will do the transforming heart work for me, no matter what happens, so that I will be able to embrace His will. But I have to allow Him to, and I have to continue to be thankful all the while.
And, finally, Colossians 3:22b-24
Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men, but work wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,
knowing you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
If I’m being completely honest, I have a deep desire to perform for people and please them all the time. I think it comes with creativity, like some sort of sick package deal. But doing things for God puts things in so much more perspective. If I’m pleasing men, then I will be crushed by my inability to get accepted into my top choice school. But if I’m pleasing God…I can rejoice, because I know His plan is for me to go to my second choice school! And I can go to my second choice school with enthusiasm, because God said that’s the plan, and God’s got something wonderful in store for me there!
So yes. In times of trouble, turn to the Word and let God amaze you with how well He understands you. I hope this has been an encouragement for whatever you’re currently waiting on. (:
For I know I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
~ Psalm 27:13-14