Semester Summary

Posted: December 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

I used to view college students’ six weeks off of school incredulously, bemoaning the disparity in vacation time from high school to college. Now, I’m beginning to see my ignorance, as I have now experienced the demands firsthand. I assumed it would be like high school, just one step up. Not tremendously different from moving up a grade in elementary years, I thought. I was wrong. Academically, I would say it wasn’t too intensely difficult. Spiritually, however…it may have been the toughest few months yet.

No amount of preparation could adequately ready me for the riptide of temptations waiting for me. I thank God wholeheartedly for my years of homeschooling and my two years in the CDS. A lifelong accumulation of strong mentoring, shaping, nurturing, and teaching from a host of godly men and women is a gift I want to express gratitude for as much and as often as possible. I had pastors instructing me at least every week in the ways of God and how to follow Him unceasingly. Even with all these years of training, I wasn’t ready. Perhaps one never can be. Using the metaphor of war, the situation seems similar to that of a new recruit. I went through boot camp, worked consistently on conditioning, learned all the weaponry. Yet none of these, as helpful and crucial as they are, can put you in a trench on hostile, foreign ground with rounds grazing your helmet at every step. I learned, more importantly, however, that as my enemy (my flesh) barrages me with its ammunition–weariness, despair, complacency, hopelessness, desperation, loneliness, stress, fear, anxiety–God is faithful to shield me to empower me to persist in following Him.

Secular philosophies permeated just about every course I took. With the required load of work, I often neglected time in God’s word and in prayer. Humanistic psychology soon challenged Scriptures teaching of human depravity, while in English class I was told the word “evil” was too strong a word to describe verbal and physical abuse. This onslaught of secular ideals battered my thoughts around, often causing me to doubt Biblical truths I had held dear and sacred for years. Among these were precious ones such as God’s unconditional love and unconditional favor (well, not conditioned on my merit but on Christ’s atonement, anyway).

I was incredibly foolish to think that somehow I could possibly thrive in God throughout college without pleading for grace and mercy every single day. A word to the wise: don’t rely on past experiences to float through college, or any season for that matter. This is probably the enemy’s favorite and longest-cherished trick, because without new grace and renewed humility every day, there’s simply no way to stay committed. We are inconsistent beings, in need of an unchanging and faithful God.

Next semester, I hope to incorporate my weak understanding of my dependence on God. By God’s grace, I hope not to ignore prayer and the Bible no matter how heavy the educational load becomes, because regular communion with God is vital to following him.

Thank you Jesus that you’ve rendered your sinless position to me so that I can stand before God innocently. Despite my obvious shortcomings this past semester, I am viewed with the same affection and love as the day I first believed. What a relief, and what an encouragement to praise You with my life to the best of my grace-enabled ability!

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Comments
  1. Laurie says:

    Fix your eyes on Christ.
    Hold fast.
    Stand firm.
    Feast on His word…even if the time spent is healthy snacking…consider His word a Feast!
    Repent unhesitatingly!
    Press on… in the world, but not of the world!

    (I say this for you AND me!)

  2. Sarah says:

    I told you! It really is one of those things that you can’t seem to be prepared for. Take it from someone who walked through her first semester pretty much the same way…you’ll be thankful for it. You’ll look back and see God’s grace as He never left you or forsook you, even when you drifted from Him and His Word. I honestly can’t say I wished my first semester was different, though, because God used it to teach me so much and make me realize so many things about me, the world, and Himself. Okay, I’ve gone on entirely too long.

  3. zoanna says:

    Convicted about not having prayed enough for you and your sibs and the other college kids I know and love.

  4. Arie Mangrum says:

    Steve,
    I am affected by your humility, stirred to pray for you, my friend. I hope it helps to know that you are not alone in the struggle to be holy. Take strong comfort in knowing that we serve a Savior who has overcome the world.

  5. aaron says:

    this is the first blog of urs i’ve read..it’s very good and honest.

  6. Stephen says:

    Thank you all.

    Pastor Arie – Prayers are always needed desperately. Thank you for your example of humility not just on Sunday morning sermons but in your genuine care for others daily and your hard work to serve.

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