This is an absolutely surreal moment, and I’m not sure when it will truly sink in…
I’m about to graduate from college…
Yeah, that still doesn’t sound right. At all. It seems like a couple of weeks ago I was moving in to my freshman dorm. It seems like not that long ago I was walking into my first college class (Biology 111 if you cared to know). It seems like just the other day I was beginning this journey, but here we are. Four years have passed. I am soon to be an alum graduating with his Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and moving on to the next phase of my life a.k.a the real world. Man…time flies.
I could spend hours and hours sharing with you memories that I have created at my university and the many hardships I encountered academically. However, what I truly desire to do is share with you something way more important.
I want to share what the Lord taught me through these four years of college.
This list could be forever long and a day, but I’ll just keep it to three that pretty much sum up the lessons the Lord taught me through the past four years of my life. Who knows. Perhaps these are lessons the Lord has taught you….or maybe He’s teaching you as we speak.
1. Everything happens when it should, how it should, and as it should: by His will and in His time.
This is the lesson I am still having an extremely difficult time grasping. The past four years presented what I felt like were hundreds upon hundreds of challenges. However, the past year of my life has been what I’ve explained to my friends and family as “the worst” or “the hardest” year of my life. I have endured so many trials, tribulations, and storms of life that ultimately reached a climax with the passing of my Grandpa. Many other things happened before and after this event that beat me to my knees, but that’s the event that hit the hardest. Over the past six months, I’ve asked myself, “Why in the world do these things keep happening? Over and over and over again.” I have never doubted God’s existence, but let me tell you, I have questioned His plan.
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”- Matthew 14:31
Wow….straight from the mouth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I always wondered how Peter could ever doubt Jesus. I always wondered why ANYONE would not trust the Almighty God. Then I realized that I do it almost daily. That is a convicting thought. Why would I not trust His plan…the One who calmed the winds and the waves….the One who walked on the water….the One who arose from the dead….the One who defeated Satan and sin to give me hope of eternal life….why?
Well, we’re human. That’s why. It’s in our nature to not understand. It’s in our nature to demand answers. It’s in our nature to question why things happen and when they happen. It’s in our nature to question anything outside of OUR plans and OUR “schedule” we have in our lives. That’s what makes us, man and God, God.
I know it’s easy to ask why things happen. I know it’s easy to ask why things happen at the worst times. I know it’s easy to question why in the world God would allow you to go through so much when it all seems so unfair and so wrong. That is normal. That’s okay. Just know…
“My brethren count it all JOY when you fail into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces PATIENCE. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be PERFECT and COMPLETE, lacking nothing.”- James 1:2-4
It’s okay to ask why things happen and why they happen when they do, but the answer is simple: the Lord has a plan. His will is perfect. His timing is perfect. And He is trying to make you perfect….in His time.
Trust God. He’s worth trusting.
2. Build your own faith
From the time I was born, I was in a home where God and His Son were the focus. I was raised in a family where every time the doors were open at church, we were there. I grew up as a preacher’s grandson and a deacon’s (and now an elder’s) son. Even the people in my family not under my roof were Christians. This was both a blessing and a curse. Now don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly thankful for the family I was raised in, and there is not a day that goes by where I don’t thank God for that.
On the flip side, it was too easy.
I went my whole life with the faith of my grandparents, parents, preacher, bible class teachers, etc. In hindsight, 99% of the things they always taught me were the truth, but still, I had made a mistake….I never developed my own faith.
I came into college on fire for God. This was a new opportunity. This was a new life. This was a time I could “reset” my life and “restart” my faith. I was out on my own. This was the time in my life I could work in the Lord’s Kingdom with my own faith. Did anyone else feel this way? Because I’m completely serious. This was going to be the “new me.”
But…there was a problem. When life and the temptations of it hit me between the eyes, I really didn’t have an answer. Why? My faith wasn’t TRULY built upon what it should be build upon. My faith was built on my parents. My faith was built on what I had heard in a pulpit. My faith was built on what I heard in a bible classroom. My faith was built upon myself. My faith was built on man. It was during this time I realized what I needed to do….
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
It was time to build on the Rock that is higher than I.
I began to spend so much time in God’s Word and truly search out things for myself. I began to form my own conclusions. I began to dig deep. I began to build a faith upon the one true foundation that is Jesus.
What I found is that, yes, the people who shared so much with me about God’s Word and the faith I should have were correct. However, how could I stand on my own if I never searched and dug into the Word for myself. I truly felt and knew what it was like to sing the words:
On Christ the Solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.
Out of the sand. Onto the Rock.
During this time….I learned the final lesson I want to share with you all…
3. Every single thing you do in your life should have one sole purpose: Glorify God and give Him everything you’ve got
I want to make a statement. This is something you may not agree with, but perhaps you will. This is how I see it: Being a Christian does you absolutely no good until you discover why you are a Christian.
Why do you do what you do? Why do you go to church services every time the doors are open? Why do you worship God? Why do you spend time studying the Bible? Why do you teach others about Jesus? Why do you live a different lifestyle than others? Why are you a Christian? WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
Is it because that’s what you’ve always done? Is it because that’s just the way you were raised? Is it because you know if you did any differently your friends and family would be breathing down your neck? Is it to appeal to other people? Is it to get social media fame? Is it to achieve YOUR goals?
Or is it because you love Jesus and the Good, Good Father who sent Him to this earth to die for you?
I’m speaking to myself, because I did all of those things. I was living this life for all of the wrong reasons. I was wearing the name Christian for all of the wrong reasons. This wasn’t living for Christ, this was living for Carson.
It was in one of my weakest moments when I read this passage, my favorite in Scripture.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:8
Out of this verse I learned why I do what I do. I learned why I wear the name Christian. I learned why I worship Him. I learned why I pray to Him. I learned why I study His Word. I learned why I lived this life. I learned my purpose.
GOD LOVED ME SO MUCH THAT HE SENT HIS SON JESUS TO DIE FOR ME AT MY WORST SO THAT I COULD LIVE FOR HIM AT MY BEST.
Wow. That’s it. That’s why I’m here. That’s my purpose. Live for God and His Son at my best. Give Them everything I have. Every exam I’ve taken over the past four years was to glorify Him. Every paper I’ve written was to glorify Him. Every hardship I’ve endured was to glorify Him. Every Bible class lesson, devotional, and sermon I’ve delivered was to glorify Him. Every conversation was to glorify Him. The degree I’m receiving on Saturday was to glorify Him. The nursing career I’ll be working diligently in is to glorify Him. The marriage I will have one day will be to glorify Him. The way I will raise my children will be to glorify Him. The life I live until my last moment on this earth should glorify Him.
This is being a Christian. This is living for Christ.
Let me wrap this up by saying, I failed miserably to glorify the Lord through my entire college career. I pray that I will glorify Him in all I do in the future, but I do recognize the mistakes I’ve made. I recognize the fact that the vast majority of my college experience was not lived for the right reasons. Most of the time, all I had in mind were my desires and my feelings. However, I hope that in the future, as I begin this new chapter of my life, that I will take these lessons the Lord has taught me through these four years at UNA and apply them through the rest of my life.
Just remember, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but Jesus died for you at your worst so you can live for Him at your best.
I am so thankful to God for the past four years and all of the trials and blessings that came with them. We serve such a great God. We serve such a forgiving God. We serve such a loving God.
I hope that this message has been an encouragement to you in some shape, form, or fashion. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and may we all strive to serve the Lord and work diligently for the Kingdom.
May the grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all. God bless.