"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The College Years Begin

After several tumultuous years of high school leading up to my senior year and the ‘borrowing’ of a school bus with some classmates for a McDonald’s run instead of the cafeteria lunch, I was looking forward to college and the hopes of a new beginning. College was to be a new adventure, far away from home (I went to Georgia Southern) and only one other person on campus knew me so I figured I could be who I wanted to be. I didn’t want to bust loose and go wild crazy banshee on campus, but it seemed to be an opportunity to begin developing who I thought Jimmy should be. However, when I got busted on the very FIRST day for being in a girl’s dorm after hours (who knew that was not permitted) I was thoroughly humiliated and thought I better be more careful in the Jimmy creation process.

I was a Christian, had been in a great church youth group and felt extremely confident that my faith and belief in GOD would hold me strong through all temptations and diversions that life on the outside of family and friends could offer. So, by the end of my second quarter; I had smoked my first cigarette, learned how much I should not ever drink again and had learned to hold my own in a cussing contest. Yeah, that was a good fraternity to pledge. No, I’m not proud and at the time I offered the excuse to myself (and GOD) that I just wanted friends and, after all, I was of legal age now. Vietnam was in full swing and I was number 142 on the draft lottery….so how did I know I would even be here by the summer. I just wanted to discover myself and make my own decisions. Looking back now, I realize I was probably testing GOD to see how far He would let me go. Well, He let me go as far as I wanted to go and then some.

My rationalization was partly that my first roommate turned out to be quite the heathen and was very vocal in abuse when I would read the Bible or try to do anything of a spiritual nature. Somehow one evening, it turned into a confrontation between me, Rick and several others when they accused me (as a Gentile) of killing Jesus (the Jew). They were drunk as coots; I was not. It was turning into a physical thing very quickly, so I finally went and hid out in my car until it seemed safe to go back into the dorm.

Going away to college was a time of change. Those first weeks and months shook my faith severely. I thought I was a strong Christian, but I had never come up against the true strength of the world. Any time we enter a period of change, be it going away to school, starting a new job, illness, moving to a new neighborhood, marriage, divorce, whatever, we have a chance to prove to ourselves how we handle change and new beginnings. From my experience, it is easy to say how strong we are in our GOD and nothing will come against us, however, that is easier said than done. As the verse below says, we should trust in GOD (totally) so that He can direct your walk and don’t be impressed with our own wisdom ‘cause that’s where you get into the trouble.

Do I have regrets? Honestly, I don’t. All the temptations I faced and either lost to or won over have made me who I am today. I still face temptations and struggle with overcoming them, but I do so much easier now because of many years of learning to trust in GOD.

So, to those students heading to college in a few weeks, I want you to know that I’m praying for you. Trust GOD. Stay close to Him. But, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you fall. It will happen, but our GOD is faithful to forgive us, so we must do the same. Just enjoy the ride of college. Too soon you’ll be graduating and entering the real world. That’s not so cool. To others who are entering new phases of life, I pray for you also. And for the same reasons.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7 NLT)


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