I know, I know.
As a “blogger,” I recently… perhaps not-so-recently?… committed the unthinkable.
I haven’t posted in over four months.
Please, withhold your obligatory gasp of pseudo-astonishment.
Honestly, I’m more upset because I didn’t sit down and write at all in those months aside from college essays and often-hurried journal entries in my times with God. I could plea that courses, ministries, campus activities, building friendships, developing community, and completing ever-present homework occupied my time. And in those pleas rest the whole true; however, they’re no excuse. I cannot claim that I did not have the opportunity to write, that I was not given the chances, the inspiration, or the ideas. I simply opted for other, arguably equally fulfilling, activities. Sitting down to write for the JOY of writing collected dust on the shelf of my priorities.
I do regret that decision, but not because I regret the relationships I built instead! Rather, I broach the topic because I treated a more important aspect of my life with similar disregard: my devotion to cultivating a relationship with the Lord.
Now, do not misunderstand me. From the outside, my walk likely did not appear to differ. I still had my morning time with Him, talked about Him, learned about Him, worshipped, prayed, encouraged, attended church and chapel, and DID all the right things… but it all felt shallow. The actions were not meaningless, but they did seem forced. I craved the depth of intimacy I had previously reached, but my mind repeatedly wandered. When I paused my busy life enough to think about it, I knew I wasn’t giving the Lord the time nor the attention necessary to reach the results I desired. I was not faking my love for the Lord, but there were fewer days spent intentionally cultivating it than otherwise. I was lulling myself into a false peace, but hey! I was having a great time. Like in my writing, I had all the opportunities and right ideas. But instead of carrying them out, I’d turn around and distract myself with “more exciting” things.
As if anything could be more thrilling and satisfying than Christ.
The last month of the fall semester, I started breaking through – emphasis on started. Simply making more of an effort, spending more time in His presence, tasting His beauty. I finally began investing in what should have been my priority, not only in words but in deeds, from the beginning. The answer to my problem was obvious, but I was too self-absorbed to pay any attention. As a result, the Lord is doing some serious work on my heart this winter break, pruning and hacking at the parts of me that are not in tune to His glory. With this revelation comes motivation to address a dilemma held not only by my peers, but by many high schoolers preparing for college. So, please, listen to someone who wishes she would have taken this realization to heart prior to her first college semester.
You can falter in your faith just as easily at a Christian university as at a secular school.
I don’t know about in your circles, but in my last years of high school, I had to answer the big question concerning not only what I wanted to study, but in what kind of environment I wanted to study it. At first, I claimed I did not want to attend a Christian university, because I wanted to “get out in the world” with my faith. I stood on a strong foundation, and part of me desired to rebel against the Christian bubble. However, the Lord led me to realize I still had an enormous amount of growing to do spiritually, and even now I am convinced Colorado Christian University is where He placed me to flourish under Biblical influences while breaking out of the bubble (a topic for another day). My point, nevertheless, remains: the distractions and temptations may take different forms based on the environment, but the struggle is identical.
Let me explain. At a secular university, the major concerns for Christians appear in the forms of drinking, smoking, doing drugs, sexual immorality, getting “caught up in the wrong crowd,” and abandoning the principles of Scripture. While these are legitimate and lethal worries, an equally dangerous pitiful exists at Christian schools: apathy.
Here is where you might stop reading, because you have all heard the complacency plea before. Which is why I desperately need you to keep reading. You can get in just as much trouble living in an overwhelmingly Christ-centered community as living in one void of His light. Not because you fall into sinful things, but because you might worship the blessings and not the Bless-er. Surrounded by other people with the same focus as you, it is easy to obsess over the people and not their Father. It grows normal to stay out late every night, laughing and enjoying community, instead of taking extra time to enjoy HIM. I’d push off reading that one passage that had been on my heart, and by the time I got to bed, I knew I’d never stay awake through class in the morning if I didn’t fall directly asleep. I began to feel justified in missing just one quiet time, because I’d worship, pray, and hear the Word in chapel later that day. A few times, my morning devotions with the Lord were hurried, but that was okay, because I knew my wonderful professor would pray and bring Christian application to the center of American Literature. My faith became more public and shared with the people around me… a positive aspect of fellowship and community… but in the process, I began losing the intimacy, the personal walk with my Creator who loves me so dearly. I talked about Him quite a bit, but didn’t talk to Him regularly, outside of a passing greeting or the occasional appeal for “zeal.”
I acted as if I didn’t need the one-on-one time, because I was thriving in the where-two-or-three-are-gathered-time on a daily basis, whether that involved explicitly talking about Christ or simply getting to know my new friends better.
Please, PLEASE, do not twist what I am saying. Christian community, Christian schools, and Colorado Christian University are wonderful blessings for spiritual development. I do not regret my decision to attend CCU in the least. I am thankful God woke me from my wanderings before I did an overwhelming amount of damage, and am looking forward to a spiritually fruitful spring semester in addition to the courses and friends. I am not saying the community, the splendid friendships I’ve built, or the activities are wrong. Rather, I ask you to heed my warning, that you may not abuse those blessings as I did. My desire is only that, whether you are already a college student, or a high schooler dreaming of the future, you remember that your walk with the Lord centers on the position of your heart, not on your surroundings. A “Christian university” will not make it easier to keep your focus on Him, it simply provides access to tools and godly influences – ones that will offer immense spiritual help and encouragement, but can also be abused if you are not in pursuit of Him.
Thus, if the Lord places you in a secular university for your higher education, I urge you to devote your time to living and loving Him there. If He places you in a Christian school, do the same. Because the truth is, whichever “type” of school you attend (and there are opportunities and benefits to each!), you must be intentional in your focus. You must declare that neither worldly things nor comfortable apathy will keep you from the ultimate goal: loving God.