May 2, 2021
Halfway through my freshman year of college, I wrote a letter to my future graduating self. I found that recently, and although most of the contents were embarrassing there was this little paragraph:
“Wherever you are and wherever you’re going, I dearly hope you have only drawn closer to Jesus. He alone can guide you through the darkest storm and sunniest field of flowers. Through the hills and valleys, He is constant. Remember that.”
I’ve had to come face-to-face with my freshman self several times this past week. She came into these spaces afraid yet expectant, with someone else’s dreams. And God in his mercy revealed much to her. I’m leaving these spaces afraid yet expectant, with dreams all my own and holding onto hope. I’m leaving with dreams yet realized and yet understood — dreams I’m only just beginning to see. In all these things, the Lord is faithful.
When I consider 19-year-old me and how she got to be the me of now, I see only grace. Grace for all the hurt. Grace for all the harsh words given and received. Grace for all the heartbreak. Grace for all the sin. Grace covering every relationship, every class, every chapel, every call home… Grace because even though I reached my limits in each of these areas and countless more, the Lord carried me. For all the failings, there was more of Jesus.
I hope four years from now I will look back on these present days and see Jesus. I hope I will see grace. I hope I will see mercy. And no matter what sorts of wild tempests I’m walking into, I hope I will look back and see God’s kindness and faithfulness. Because no promises in this world will ever satisfy the way Jesus’s fulfilled promises do and will. He is the only assurance, only true hope, only whole and good foundation. To this I cling. No other anchor will hold. No other love will ever love like Jesus, the source that makes any of those other sources meaningful.
Sure, I’m leaving this place pretty beat up and bruised. They were four of the hardest years of my life spiritually and emotionally. Things happened that brought and still bring me a lot of pain. But ultimately such suffering ought not to surprise me or anyone. Of course we are going to go through trials, wherever we are. Such is the nature of a broken world. But the gifts? The gifts shine through unexpected and undeserved. These are marks of the Lord.
It seems dangerous to label these years as either the “best” or the “worst” of my life. They were both in different ways. Yet in all these things, what counts is that it all drove me to Jesus. What counts is learning to follow Jesus more and more regardless of the items being weighed on the “good” and “bad” balancing scales. Those things in themselves do not bring us to Christ, but Christ meets us in the midst of those things and holds out his hands, pierced. God does not need us to suffer in order to have a relationship with us, but he does step into the reality of suffering in the world and does something about it. He sends Jesus. He dwells in us by his Spirit. Always heaven touching earth. Not ignoring or avoiding. But love bids us welcome. Love calls us ever onward, ever homeward.
Homeward. I’ll be living in three different places this month. And so begins a peculiar time of marked unknowns — of human uncertainty nonetheless abiding in the certainty of the Lord. It’s an untethered time. A nomadic time. And I know it is gift: blessed and carried by God. Such a great number of hopes and desires must be surrendered and trusted to the Lord, for I am unable to hold them alone. And all he asks is that I follow him. He’s beckoning. I’m sure of it.
Lord, help me to trust you.