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Going to College?
Really knowing what you want to be when you grow up.
A medical doctor just finished a long talk about how Jesus died on the cross. But it didn't affect me like it did everyone else. I wasn’t even close to thinking about what God wanted me to do with my life. How did I get this way? I was empty. And I was untouched by the way the weekend retreat was going. It seemed like everyone was crying but me. My group leader suggested I "get alone with God," so I went to the chapel.
At 16 years old, I was alone and, for the first time in my life, on my knees. At the foot of a cross in the chapel, I asked God why I didn't feel anything when I heard how Jesus died. Thinking I might get an answer, I waited. But God didn't speak to me, at least not like I thought He would.
Instead, I began to tremble. In the stillness of the chapel, I saw something that began a slow but radical change in my life. Listening over my hushed breath and the shaky beat of my heart, I saw a vision of the nail-scarred feet of Jesus. Too afraid to look up, I said, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"
Knowing What God Wants
I can’t count how many times I was asked: "Do you know what you want to do when you grow up?" “Architect,” was my answer. But whether you say law enforcement officer, racecar driver, teacher, or President of the United States, it's the wrong question. When the apostle Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he asked: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). But that was Paul’s second question. His first question was: "Who are you, Lord?"
The first thing God wants me to do is to know Him.
Jesus didn't "say" anything more to me that day on my knees. He wanted me to know Him. I didn't know God, so I couldn't know what He wanted me to do. So, I made some big decisions on my own. One of the most important decisions I made is the choice of a career or life-work. It meant going to university, choosing a major, and devoting four years and a lot of money to something I didn’t even know was God’s purpose for my life. I went to college because it was the next logical step in life. I guess I was just following what everyone else was doing. So, instead of following the voice of God, I followed the crowd.
How you make decisions says a lot about what is most important to you.
When someone says, "You gotta go to college," how should you respond? If you say, “Why,” your parents and teachers will likely look at you condescendingly like you don’t know enough to make the decision. Even Christian parents say, "You need an education to get a good job." But why? "So you can make money." Why? "So you can be a success." Why? Is it because money is the most essential thing in life? God is left out of the most important decisions of thousands of Christian's lives.
What will you do?
Are you going to college because "everybody else is going"? Or will you get to know God first? Will you ask Him what He calls you to do before committing four years and thousands of dollars? This is not about attending church or giving God your Sundays and Wednesdays. To hear God’s voice, you must give Him your whole life, your hopes and dreams. He knows what is best for you, and His reward is eternal. Don’t just ask Him into your life; give Him everything, including your career.
If you think that having money is the way to success, you may be set up for frustration later in life. You could be a success with money but fail to know God and the reason He made you the way He did. Many Christians like me go to college without first knowing God and choosing to answer His call.
But God's gifts and calling will never go away. (Rom. 11:29)
God's most important call is not whether I go to college; it’s not even whether I trust Him to lead my life. The most important call is to be with Him and whether my heart really belongs to Him.
Going to college isn't wrong, but deciding to go without asking God is like telling Him, "You can have my Sundays, but all the rest is mine. I live in the real world."
Here's what you can do
Get alone, get quiet, and listen to God's voice. Really listen. The call of God is simple. It's hearing God's voice. The most important thing God calls us to is Himself. He wants you to know Him. Really know Him.
Listening to God isn't always easy. It's much easier to listen to and follow the noisy culture that shouts, "The one with the most stuff wins!" Do they think material things are more important than the One who created all things?
Which will you choose?
Ultimately, we must each choose to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ or followers of the world.
You can pray with a Christian friend and decide to follow God's call together. But you need to take the initiative. Get to know God. Seek wisdom from those who are following God’s voice. It may be a Pastor, your Parents, or a Youth Leader. Make the promise in prayer that you want to know God and His calling before you go to college.
He called me.
Looking down at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus, I began to realize the pain Jesus felt when He carried the cross, the cruel instrument of his death, up the hill called Golgotha. God didn't speak to me the way I thought He would. He didn't say anything. He showed me that I need to know Him as Savior and the price He paid for my sins. He called me like He called Adam; "Where are you?" He didn't call me to do anything for Him. He called me to know Him. God’s call changed me. Tears finally did roll down my face the day I fully surrendered to follow those nail-scarred feet anywhere He leads me.
Get alone with God now. He knows you. He'll call you too.
© John Henry • YWAM Student Centre