His Story in Me Part 3

So my semester continued on. I ended up going to CFC and making it “my” home. Knowing what I know now, I hesitate to call it that, but we’ll come to that in time. CFC was a great place, still is. Coming from a United Methodist body of perhaps 30 people to a non-denominational body of perhaps 400 was quite a change. It was one that I adapted to well though. I got to know  some people, and meet others. I met people whom I’m sure will be life-long friends. There was a family in CFC that put on spaghetti dinners for all of the college students, the Daniel’s family, and I’m not gonna lie, I put off going for as long as I could.

I still couldn’t stand meeting new people. It just wouldn’t work. I didn’t like it, and I figured they wouldn’t like me.

One of the first Sunday’s, Clarkson had dorm wars, quite the time actually. All of the freshman floors got together and competed against each other in various events. I had gone to CFC that morning, and two others were there as well and they needed rides directly back to Clarkson so that they could go to the dorm wars as well. Ben and Brian, I didn’t really know them at the time and it was mildly awkward to say the least.

I continued to go to the cell group that was held Thursday nights. I became friends with the guys in the group, people that I could really talk to and hang out with. Somehow I made it through the semester, heading back and forth from Clarkson to home and from home to Clarkson. It wasn’t easy because I was still attached to home. I still cried every time I drove away. I still missed my family very much.

I became friends with Ben Salisbury, on a merely “Hey-how’s-it-going?” basis. We would see each other at cell group and on Sunday’s, that’s it. We didn’t really talk otherwise. Merely associated because he was a familiar face.

I went through a tough time with not knowing anyone. But I managed to make some friends on my own. Chris Lane, Jamie Davis, Brian Roscoe, and some others. It wasn’t easy, but it was an interesting experience for sure. I enjoyed all of it.

By the end of November, the winter was beginning to set in. It was definitely getting chilly. That’s to say the very least, exactly why I called it the tundra. We eventually got to finals week, and with four finals, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and I believe Thursday. It was a tough semester but I made it through. I went back home, and enjoyed a delightful Christmas. And then, the second semester began.

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His Love

Sometimes it just strikes me. Sometimes I have a new revelation, a new awareness of just how much He loves us. And when I do, it generally floors me.

I had one such experience just yesterday, and it left me in shambles. Even after all of the pent up emotions I had from things that were going on, even after they were all spent, God brought out more. He gave me a new revelation of just how much he loves us.

I will never understand it, I don’t pretend to try. All I know is that he does.

And I’ve done my best to love him back for that. I know that my love will waver, but I’m grateful that His love never does. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with knowing God. I left behind being a “good” Christian, and I fell in love with knowing God.

I’ve come to the point where I believe that I exhibit him in every area of my life, even if I don’t speak directly about him. His transformation in me, as I’m telling parts of it in the series “His Story in Me” on here, it’s direct evidence of him. It’s direct evidence of how he is present in my life everywhere.

Somewhere along the journey, I started drawing on strength from God. I don’t know when, nor how…but it explains why I can keep going much longer than others during stressful situations. It’s why I can remain emotionally calm. Somehow I’m taking refuge in Him. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know myself, and it’s me that it’s happening to.

My one guess, is that I’m finally learning to rest in his love. He is constantly ministering to me, and most of the time I’m not even aware of it. Just like his love. I may not feel his love all the time, but his love is far stronger than mine.

Know that his love is far beyond comprehension. I’m not sure that I would want a love that I could fully understand anyways. The same way that I don’t think I would want a God I can fully understand. I’ll settle for knowing there are things I’ll never know. I’m okay with that.

As long as I remember that he loves me, even though it may be forever beyond my comprehension, I’ll rest safely knowing that I’m loved by the God of the universe. Knowing that even though the things I go through may not all be good, he still loves me. I’ve learned that it’s all for his glory, not mine. And so to His name, I will give all the glory and praise, for He IS the God everlasting.

His Story in Me Part 2

I went to see Professor Nishikawa for help on Calculus I material. I was sitting in the hallway waiting because there was another student in his office. And this kid approached me out of the blue. I was still a little thrown off because it was a complete stranger…and I hated talking to strangers. One of the first things he asked me was where I was from. Of course by now, that was a standard question. The trifecta of questions at college is name, major, and where you’re from. So naturally I told him, “Fort Ann,” and from there it was quite the meeting. Turns out, he was from Fort Ann as well. Stephen Carter just happened to be at Clarkson. It was surprising to me to say the least.

He helped me out quite a bit with adjusting to the new work load and the material from my classes. He also invited me to Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. The first gathering of Christians that I met on Clarkson’s campus. Suddenly I had several new friends. They were all very cool people too. They also led me into a great fellowship up here in Potsdam as well, Christian Fellowship Center. Suddenly I had a new group of people to get to know. People that I could become familiar with, I had found my friends.

I began to become friends with people I didn’t know, slowly moving on, in a way, from my friends in high school as I’m sure that they did as well. It was a fantastic time, and I began to gain weight as well. The freshman 15 definitely happened for me. I went to breakfast, lunch, and dinner at certain times, and I became friends with some of the workers there. Just because I was being friendly, which is nice. For me personally, I can become friends easier with people who are not my peers.

I ended up getting into Christian music. I enjoyed listening to it, I think I may have drove my roommate crazy a few times. I never used headphones simply because I would have to take out my hearing aids to use them. It was just easier to not use them.

I read my Bible as much as I could, I got annoyed because I wasn’t evangelizing to people.

Classes themselves were okay. I just put my head down and did my best. I went to visit my professor when I was unsure of things, and did what I knew.

I ended up going to a bible study on Thursday evenings at 5:30 in Townhouse 12. It was helpful, and I met some great guys, many of whom I’m still friends with. I enjoyed going there and hanging out in the Townhouses. It was quite often fun. Some Thursdays I would have to leave early because of evening exams. Something I hadn’t experienced before.

My first evening exam at Clarkson was in Physics 1. I took Physics in high school, and  let me tell you, I thought I knew all about it. After all, I passed the regents didn’t I? Well, as it turns out I didn’t know all about Physics. I got a 32 out of 60 or something of the likes. It wasn’t easy at all. Not to mention as I left the exam lecture hall that night, I like the other freshmen in the class with me, all 400 to 600 of them, (first time I’d experienced classes that large for sure) went through a long line of people chanting “Business Majors” and handing out dum-dum pops, and drop forms.

They knew the test was difficult. They had been there. Gone through it themselves. But I was drained mentally, I don’t think I had expected to really be challenged up here. Back home, I was the smart kid. The kid that everyone else asked for answers. Up here at Clarkson, I was normal. The kid who was learning the material for the first time just like everyone else, and not sure what to do on the problems just like everyone else.

Something that I realized at the time I wanted. To be a normal student, I didn’t want to stand out…I had stood out back in high school. Now I wanted to relax and just be a part of the group. And I got that wish. A little more than I would have liked I think, now that I look back on it.

In the Deep of Winter

There is always something about God that amazes me. And one day last semester at Clarkson, (Spring 2011 for reference) I was coming back from the gym. Yes, the gym, one place I used to be completely confident you would never catch me leaving or going to.

Anyways, back on track here…I was coming back from the gym, and it was snowing. Not like the heavy, “Holy crap it’s a blizzard” snow, nor the “Oh hey look it’s snowing a little” snow. But a snow in between. One where the snow was coming down at a steady rate, and just falling “straight” down, I mean there was no wind basically.

And suddenly I was caught up by God. Right there, just walking. I wasn’t doing anything special, and God just started speaking silently (that appears to contradict itself, but I assure he can very easily speak silently). And then with what he showed me, my brain started racing. You want to know what he showed me?

The snow. On this particular day, God spoke and showed me the snow. Two things immediately come to mind. One came on that day, and the second came to me just now as I’m writing this.

He had me watch the snow in 3D. Now I know what you might be thinking, we see everything in 3D. Yup, we do. But he showed me the snow and the space in between each flake. He showed me how he orchestrated the way the snowflakes fell down to the earth. He showed me how every flake was in its own world, its own journey that played into the bigger story, the bigger journey of blanketing the campus in white.

I just realized something else, this will be a brief side note. I enjoy the rain because it seems to rejuvenate me. It refreshes me in a way that only rain can. The only thing that refreshes me more than rain is God. And when he refreshes I’m always in awe.  Also I enjoy winter because it is a constant reminder of God’s covering. It brings me a fresh revelation of the way that he looks at us.

And that brings me to my second point, the one that just came to me. God uses the natural world to constantly remind us of what he’s done. I look at the snow, and just walking back through it, the soft crunch under my foot reminds me. It reminds me who I am, where I walk.

It convicts me immensely, knowing that I am writing this, and recalling that day, God’s working in me.

I know that in my head, I walk in safety. I walk under the shelter of the Most High, and from his safety I can never be taken.

But I can leave.

And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve left the shelter of the Most High numerous times in my journey, and even recently. But there’s always something about God that amazes me, and his willingness to bring me back is one such thing.

When I committed myself to Jesus, and became a Christ follower, he made an irrevocable change. He did the same for you as well. Walking over the snow, and through the snow reminds me.

I have been made pure in his sight. I have been made holy, blameless, and perfect in his sight. Never again can I return to being unholy, never again can I be blamed, never again can I be less than perfect. In his sight, you are pure, holy, blameless, and perfect.

In the ultimate paradox, by being washed by red, I have been turned white. Being washed by the blood, caused me to become white as snow.

Just as God orchestrates the fall of the snowflakes, how they tumble through the air, and where they land, so he orchestrates the history of this world. He has been patiently at work since before time existed creating history, creating his story.

He’s Always in Control

As I begin to enter crunch time here at college (only 6 weeks left to the semester, soon to be 5) things are becoming more and more crowded. I’m still truly debating on the decision that God has placed before me…and it’s not an easy one. But then again, is any decision that God gives to us truly easy?

There is one thing that I have even when trying to make this decision, and that’s the fact that God is still in control. He’ll still lead me even if I venture into the wilderness. Even if I leave formal church services, he’ll still be leading me. But it won’t be easy. He’ll be a pillar of smoke to me during the day times, and a pillar of fire at night. I have no idea what he has in store for me, but I know this…it’s God, so it will be good. Not easy…probably never easy…but good. Because it’s him. I’ve fallen in love with the source of Life, and I’m determined to follow that source of Life wherever he leads me.

I have made my decision, cast the die with Jesus, and with Him my future rests. I know that some people will never understand the decisions that I make…I can only rest in the fact that they can and will see the consequences of my decisions and trust in Jesus. That is how we change the world after all.

We don’t change the world by reaching thousands of people, or going to other countries to just tell them “you NEED Jesus.” No. We change the world by being changed ourselves. As we are changed, we become consumed with Him, and move deeper into Him and knowledge of Him, and people begin to ask questions, to grow curious by themselves. Then we present the ultimatum. We as humans have something inherently wrong.

Since the beginning, way back in the Garden, we desired to live life without complete dependency on God. That is the hole that sin has filled. When we recognize this, and invite God in, and partake of his life, showing complete dependency on Him for our every breath, it is then that we are fulfilled. It is that image that people see. The manifestation of Jesus in our lives is enough to inspire those around us to question. And always remember that we may be but a stepping stone.

It is possible to be normal and a Christ-follower. In fact, we will be the most normal, the most natural when we are following Jesus. We change the world when we are focused solely on Jesus. When we ignore the “Great Commission” we will have the most impact. The most true conversions will occur when we are no longer focused on the “Great Commission.” The most true conversions will occur when we are focused on Jesus…because then people will see who He truly is.

These decisions…they’re never easy. But I have resolved to follow Jesus. The Jesus of the Scriptures, and of real life. A Jesus who is so much more than the cheap image many well-meaning western churches have created without realizing it. I can only desire that the God who is always in control will continue to draw me down this path, and others after me at some point. Because my heart and desire is to love this crazy God. This God who is beyond comprehension. All I know is for some reason, I inherently trust this God. And I’m glad he’s in control, and that we’re not just spinning around in space.

I think I’ve resolved my decision. Now it just comes to a period of waiting to see what’s going to happen with it.

His Story in Me part 1

Well, here’s the first of I’m sure what will be a series. Mainly about me, or perhaps rather his work in my life.

I’m honestly amazed at what God’s done in me. It started during freshman year up here at Clarkson. I got so frustrated because I couldn’t see what God was doing in me. I could see how he was changing everyone else, but not me. But for now, let’s go back to the beginning of this awesome story.

I remember the early morning. Praying at 5am because everything was about to change for me. I was crying because I was leaving home. My family would be bringing me up to Potsdam, a foreign place that I had only visited, never stayed over in. I specifically remember praying and saying: “Everything’s about to change, and I’m scared. It’s going to be different and I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I know one thing, and it’s that you won’t change.”

How quickly I was defeated by the loneliness and isolation. The God I had prayed to in August that morning had left me by February. It wasn’t easy.

But going back to that first semester, I showed up. We unloaded the cars, er rather a bunch of people I didn’t know unloaded the cars. Clarkson’s SOS team. Student Orientation Services. The Move-In Crew. The cars were empty within two trips and all of my possessions were on the third floor of Cubley. The lounge, or fishbowl as I ended up calling it. “Overflow” rooming. Clarkson knew kids were going to drop out.

We unpacked my stuff, my grandparents left, tears in their eyes I’m sure. I know I had a few. Then off to meetings, as my mom, siblings, step father, and best friend unpacked the rest of my stuff for me. I came back, and my mom had left with one of my siblings to get a cable for my printer. Off to another meeting, and then back, only to find that they had all left. I never even said goodbye to them, no teary hug, mother crying, step-dad shaking my hand firmly with the beginnings of tears. I never got that college send off.

One thing I did get was a note. One that brought tears to my eyes then, and still does right now as I write about it. I kept it for two years, but I’m afraid I may have lost it.

We love you and are so proud of you.

You’ll do great!

Love, Mom.

I don’t know why, but I read that on my first night away from home, and nearly lost it. Our parents, they really do care about us. For some reason, unknown to me until I have kids of my own, parents just have this undying love for us. To see us succeed and prosper more than they did.

So I went through my first week of classes, eating meals with my roommate because we didn’t know anyone else. And then he found friends on the floor. And there I was all alone again. Just another number. I went to breakfast at 8am, lunch at 11am, and dinner at 4:30pm because I wanted to avoid crowds. I didn’t want to meet new people.

I went and saw my professor for Calculus I. Professor Nishikawa, a pretty cool professor actually. Clarkson, it wasn’t going to be like highschool at all…I had one new roommate. Someone I hadn’t met before. I had a schedule full of classes, books in hand, and a computer, and cellphone. That was it. Oh, and I had God. But I didn’t realize just how much I would come to rely on him.