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

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Finding Christ at college

When we last saw our poor, beleaguered, spiritually tortured Jimmy, he was on a college campus far away from home and trying to rediscover himself and his relationship with God.

After a few weeks of struggling with being away home and family, church and friends, I finally made up my mind to transfer to a college back in the Atlanta area. God was not at Georgia Southern, or at least I was having a hard time finding Him. Bear in mind that I had never had spiritual problems before because I had been tucked away in my comfortable suburban life surrounded by Christian family and friends. I always considered myself as having a strong faith and belief system; however it just didn’t seem to be working out so great now.

I prayed about it and felt sure it is what God wanted me to do. I began getting catalogs from other schools (this was in the day before internets and online searches) and made my decisions…now, it was just time to tell my parents. I headed home for the weekend, hooked up with friends, had a great Sunday at church seeing everybody again then sprung the news on my family over Sunday dinner. That I was planning to go back, pack everything up and move back home for good. Simple. Except…my folks didn’t buy it. They knew there was more to it than I admitted and kept encouraging me to ‘fess up. Finally, after many tears (on both sides) I told all. My folks asked that I go back and try a new beginning to see how things went. To try and find some Christian friends and plug in somewhere. To try and go to church there.

I reluctantly agreed while knowing that it wouldn’t work and I’d still be packing up at the end of the quarter. I honestly prayed all the way back and was feeling better when I finally arrived on campus and tried to open my dorm room door. The key didn’t work. Try again. Still no work. I think I muttered one of my new words when a voice came from behind me asking if I needed some help. A guy was standing there that I had seen around the dorm as a resident assistant which meant he was at least a sophomore….and scary. “Yep,” I admitted hesitantly and stepped aside. The guy wiggled the key just right and the door popped open. He helped me get my bags inside and noticed a Bible lying on my desk.

Him: “So, is that your Bible?” Me: “Yep, it is.” Him: “So, are you a Christian?” Me: “Yep, I am.” Him: “That’s great to hear. We have a dorm Bible Study in my room on Tuesday nights and also hang out a lot at the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Campus Ministry), eat meals together and do a lot of us. You should come hang out with us.”

Wow! That was a God-wink that came like a slap upside my head. I agreed to come that week and, well, my life has not been the same. I found friends like I had never known before. Through the next four years, I found opportunities for ministry and personal growth like I had never imagined. I was encouraged, strengthened, laughed, cried and somehow managed to eventually graduate college despite these great new (rowdy and crazy) Christian friends and being so involved in Christ’s work not only on campus, but everywhere we traveled.

Things were not all roses from that night on, but I had rediscovered Christ at a time when I needed Him the most. More college adventures will be coming in weeks to come, but I wanted to share with a few good friends who will be leaving soon to begin their college experience for the first time, or for another year. Hang tough to Christ, folks. He IS faithful. He IS concerned about what you face. He WILL give you power to overcome….if you keep your eyes on Him. But, like I said earlier, don’t beat yourself up if you stumble, and you will, because that’s just the way the world operates. I wouldn’t trade going to a public, secular school for anything in the world because I got a good preparation for dealing with the world after graduation. I received the strength needed to deal.

Praying for all of you constantly. And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


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