I can’t help but reflect on my freshman year. Being a senior this year, I have caught myself “in my feels” so often about all the new, exciting, challenging, persevering, growing, and heartbreaking moments I have experienced during my four years here at OBU. I think back to my first semester. I was an eager Vocal Music Education major. I walked into my first class beyond ready to learn. I wasn’t prepared to be challenged. I had 8 a.m. classes everyday. Class Piano I and Aural Skills I at 8 a.m. was daunting. I was not very skilled in either subjects, so going was hard for me. I had never really faced having to push myself to study or practice hard for anything. Music theory did not come naturally to me. I would show up to class in leggings, hoodies, and crocs or Ugg boots everyday to class. I did not give a care about my body or how I was treating myself. Self-care was absent from my life. I would constantly compare myself to how my peers around me were excelling in our music classes, but I was not. I compared my singing ability to all the upperclassmen. I told myself I never would be good enough. I was just trying to get that ring by spring, ya know? I didn’t care about anyone else but myself.
A month into my first semester, I began to seek after what the Lord truly wanted to do with my life. My faith was turning into my abilities rather than relying on the Lord, which is not faith at all. After much prayer, I knew that I needed to change my major. I honestly loved the push for excellence, but I could not keep up. I would go to the Success Center begging for help. I would walk out in the hallway of Ford Music Hall and just ask fellow music majors for help. The community was beautiful. I felt supported by my peers and especially my professors. Our Music Study course was taught by two of the most impactful professors I have ever had. The class was designed as a Success 101 course. It was teaching us how to equip ourselves as musicians and as growing Believers.
Dr. Lilite once mentioned in that class that the Lord has given us all the time in the world, and it was up to us to make the most of that time. Think about that … Our omnibenevolent Heavenly Father has given us precious, beautiful minutes. So, how was I supposed to make the most of every minute given to me. I was SHOOK. What was I doing as a growing woman in the faith to glorify the Lord and delight in His goodness?
I would never have imagined the transformation that has taken place over my life while at OBU. The last three summers, I have spent them doing camping ministry with Pine Cove’s Camp in the City. Never in my life would I have imagined dedicating three, about to be four, summers getting absolutely hot and sweaty sharing in the goodness of the Gospel with children, college students from around the country, and families all over the southeast region of the United States. My time at Pine Cove and OBU truly go hand-in-hand with one another. My first summer, I learned what it means to rest in the Lord. Psalm 116:7 became my daily prayer. “Return to your rest, O My Soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Resting in the Lord is not solely physical. It is mental and (obviously) spiritual. We must go to Him when anxious (Philippians 4:4-7) and greatly hurting (Matthew 11:28). Resting in the Lord also occurs when we are actively waiting on HIS plan and not our own (Romans 8:25). Hope is active. Hope is patient. Hope is knowing that the Father is completely in control and we are to solely rely on His desires for us. We must deny our own wants and flesh everyday. We have to cling to the Spirit. When clung to the Spirit and not the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2), our own selfish desires that only lead to destruction and harm will dissipate. Sounds easy, right? No. Absolutely not. We are absolutely not called to a life of ease and perfection. When we follow the Lord’s will for our lives, his perfection will prevail. But it doesn’t just happen easily.
Junior year, I ran from God. I wanted my life my way. Pursuing the Lord and knowing His character was of no thought in my life. I wanted fun, new experiences, and rebellion. I desired my flesh. My grades, attitude, and heart for others reflected my way of living. Again, I went back to Pine Cove and was immediately challenged by a dear friend of mine who attends Liberty is Virginia. Her discernment and deep satisfaction of Lord was so beautiful and prevalent in every conversation. She challenged me without even directly calling it out in my life. I was craving and devouring my flesh. Yes, that is a disgusting image, but it is accurate. This past summer, I was once more challenged as I was freshman year with rediscovering my identity in the One that loves me despite my depravity.
Battling my flesh and clinging to the Spirit and walking by the Spirit is a daily choice. There is no shame in going to the Lord with our aches and sin. He knows we are sinful. We are never too far from the salvation and compassion of Jesus Christ. Our lives scream how badly we need an omnipresent Savior every second of our day. We are broken. If we weren’t, there would be no point in life. Life is about challenges and aching for something greater to repair our wandering souls. I look back on that wide-eyed and exciting 18 year old girl ready for marriage and the amazing life I had made for myself. She was so precious and eager. She needed a hard slap in the face, and she got it. Now, a 21 year old woman, I have no idea what life looks like after graduation. I have given away my life fully to the cause of Christ. I don’t want to make plans for myself. I’m not just sitting around waiting for the Lord to provide a job for me or just magically pop an idea of what I should do with my life, but I am daily in His good Word learning more of His character and asking for discernment of what is of His “good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
The people I have met throughout my four years here have pushed me to pursue a life that reflects Christ’s. So, if we are to go back to what Dr. Lilite had mentioned to our class about spending each day to its fullest potential, it looks like living a life that is a reflection of Christ’s love. It is dying to ourselves and loving others well and loving our sovereign God. Every moment given to us is a gift. It is a blessing to wake up with breath in our lungs everyday. So, how will you spend it? Will you spend it as an insecure, self-loathing, lazy, croc-wearing flesh eater? Or will you give up your life and recognize what is true of yourself: a chosen, loved, redeemed, child of the King of Kings? Because I can tell you for a fact that the insecure, lazy nobody is NOT how Christ sees you. You have been bought with a price, drawn near to Him, a work of art designed to do good works that Christ has planned from the beginning of time.