I guess you could say I'm a little anxious to be home. While my time at Liberty has been amazing beyond all belief, I do miss the valley I call home quite a bit. But that's to be expected when you spend a little more than four months away from your family and the surroundings you know.
If you live on-campus at Liberty, every Tuesday night you meet with a few people from your dorm for a little Bible study and prayer time. I think this is one of the things Liberty has done right when it comes to community building. Having a routine really does help create a sense of normality and structure, which some college students do not have the opportunity to be a part of. At these prayer groups we are able to hear a lesson, pray for each other, and ultimately just build relationships that are a little more personal than the occasional passing in the hall.
This past Tuesday in my prayer group I actually had the opportunity to lead the lesson for the night and because of the fast-approaching break, I decided to focus my lesson on the importance of planning and goals.
As all except one in my group are freshmen, many of them have not really experienced a Christmas break during college like our prayer leader and myself have. Christmas break is very unique when it comes to college. For many students it will be the first time in several months that they are able to go back home. And the home they are returning to might not look like the home they left back in August. First-year college students often don't grasp how much they have really changed in their first semester until they return to their hometowns. They choose to hangout with different people, maybe not the ones they spent the most time with in high school. When we part ways with our good friends for different directions or universities, we really discover who means the most to us. We make it a priority to maintain contact and communication with those that do the same for us. For those that shove a once great friendship in the forgotten memories box on the top shelf of the closet, we tend to not consider a conversation over coffee at Starbucks. As sad as it may be, we must be realistic and understand that friendships do fade when they are not continually watered and cultivated. But that is a reality we must face as we continue to mature and become the people we were made to be.
The majority of my lesson was centered around three different themes or over-arching goals: earthly goals, spiritual goals, and battlegrounds.
Earthly goals were really anything we wanted to do concerning family, friends, academics, or other activities. Many in the group stressed a desire to spend time with family as we have been apart for so long. Family was near the top of my list as well because I haven't seen them all physically since the first week of August. It's really surprising how close I have grown to my family despite us being over 2,700 miles apart. FaceTime has definitely been a blessing to curb the great feeling of distance between us and I am very much looking forward to being home.
Another significant earthly goal I have is to spend time with friends I haven't seen in several months as well. Because I have lived in a couple different cities over the past couple years, I have made many new friends and many new relationships. There are a couple people in particular that God has been placing on my heart that I really look forward to seeing as I have missed spending time with them. What that time spent together looks like, I'm not entirely sure, but I do know it will be a great time getting to reconnect and share memories.
The second aspect of my lesson were any spiritual goals we had for the break. It was interesting to hear a resounding cry from the group to be in God's Word more during the break. I think the understanding that we must be in the Word as much as we can is something that Christians everywhere need to understand. If we are not reading the Words of God, we cannot expect to grow or even hear for that matter when He is speaking to us. Prayer was also a joint goal as speaking to God is vital to every believers walk. We must constantly grow in our relationship with Him and how can one grow when we do not spend time with Him.
The aspect of my spirituality that God has really laid on my heart over the past few months has been my apprehension to share Christ with others. I've become very convicted about my silence to many of my closest friends that do not know the Lord. When it comes to evangelism, I do not think I am especially gifted with talking to strangers on the street about Jesus. I know that some people can do it but I find it is not my strongest trait. Obviously if the Spirit is leading I am willing to follow, but I think that sharing Christ with someone is a very important and sacred moment which should be done in relationship with another. Professing the name of Christ is a very honorable act and I personally think that it should be presented in the form of a Christian sharing with a close friend that does not know Jesus as Lord. My reasoning for this is that the nonbeliever will be able to see the Christian's life as a representation and example of Christ's love. They will take notice that you are different when compared to their other friends and will choose to seek that friendship above the others.
The final aspect of my lesson was titled "Battlegrounds" for the battles with sin and temptation we need prayer for over the break. Many of us had a few of the same temptations and it was very encouraging to have everyone know how to pray for the other.
One aspect of my life that I have really struggled with over the past few years has been a daily battle with myself. It seems that I am most plagued by the sin of pride and it has really taken a toll on me throughout the years. Pride is such a dangerous and destructive sin not only because of the effects it has on those around us, but also because of the influence it has on the one falling to pride. It creates a sense of self-delusion that causes us to think we are superior to those we see as inferior or lesser. The dangerous nature of pride lies largely in the idea that we deserve better than others simply because of how great we think we are. I can honestly say this has been one of my biggest struggles and I am in need of significant prayer for it.
Whenever I read through the Gospels and encounter the Pharisees lording themselves over those "less-religious" than themselves I cringe. In the Pharisees I see a certain reflection of myself and how I look down on people. I see Christ constantly rebuking them for their "white-washed tomb" lives and look at my own life, seemingly clean on the outside, while rotting on the inside. But that is the work my Lord is doing in my life. A continuous outpouring of His Spirit into my life that regenerates and sanctifies my heart from the inside out.
So whether you are a student going on break or simply taking time off for the holidays, I encourage you to make a list of the things you want to see get done. Feel free to use the categories I have listed above as a foundation. If you do not personally profess to have a relationship with Christ, please talk to me, whether it be over coffee, Facebook, or twitter. It is the most important truth you will ever discover. If Christianity is false, it is of no matter or concern to you. But if Christianity is true, it is of the utmost importance and concern (CS Lewis). Let us not be unsure of our eternity.