Even now seniors are being asked to predict the future with a precise certainty that would raise anxiety levels of even the most tranquil person. With last summer closer than is the coming summer, students are already asked to consider their plans for the next June, July, and August – months in advance. Course registration begins in just two weeks, and the campus clamors with sounds of silent stress studying for the next assignment, the next examination, always something next.
In the midst of all the forward thinking, what is happening now? What is constantly occurring all around us? Life.
Future Oriented, Forsaking the Present
Throughout my various conversations with friends and peers alike, a thematic tendency always appears in some manner: looking for what is to come and overlooking what is now. Yet we know that even now, the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).
When we are living in the present, focused on the future, our present quickly becomes the past; and, pretty soon, our futures have already passed us – gone by as we have looked forward to the next “next.”
The Word of the Lord is clear: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). What more, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). It is clear that, while we may plan –and planning is vital and necessary in order to be a good steward of what is in front of you – it is ultimately the Lord who “establishes [man’s] steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Seek First the Kingdom of God
Most of us have heard a combination of those verses as well as the comforting admonishment which, to paraphrase, says, “Therefore, do not be anxious, for your heavenly Father knows your needs. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow…” (See full text in Matthew 6:31-34).
The kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Lord establishes our steps. Seek first the kingdom of God and the Lord will fulfill what He knows you need; therefore, you have no need to be anxious.
As a senior at the College of William & Mary, I am forced to plan an ambiguous, looming future – an impossible task that requires me to focus on my own abilities, my own strengths, and my own experiences as if they truly were my own. In this self-focused, future-oriented season of life, I can sometimes forget that everything comes from God.
This battle between self-reliance and reliance on God ultimately boils down to a lack of trust and faith in God’s sovereignty. I remember as a junior, wondering, in prideful self-pity, who would continue the work that God has begun on this campus when this current senior class graduates in May?
Christ Will Continue This Good Work
Once the fog of arrogant doubt in the Lord cleared, I realized, “that he who began a good work…will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Even now, I have a list too long to count of students – juniors, sophomores, and now freshmen – who have already picked up the bricks of faith and trust in God. They have begun to build upon the foundation that our class has set, which has been built upon the prayers and establishment of those hundreds, if not thousands, of students whose hearts have been gateways through which the Spirit of the Lord has accessed our campus for its 322 years of existence.
I consider the spontaneous worship on the Sunken Gardens, the Facebook group message which sends simple updates of when and where to worship if anyone is available. I consider the various trips to and from Christopher Newport University, a nearby university, where relationships have formed between our campuses. I consider the organic dialogues between freshmen and their hall-mates who have never encountered an authentic follower of Jesus. I consider the students who stop and pray for their friends who are stressed or anxious the moment their friends tell them. No longer do we just hear the phrase, “Oh, I’ll pray for you,” but instead, friends pray then and there on campus, in dining halls, in academic buildings.
I think of the weekly “Worship Wednesdays” that have continued unhindered for over a year. I think of the transformation that the football and lacrosse teams have had due to Christ’s intervention in the lives of well-known and well-respected team members. I think of the spunk and fire that the freshmen and sophomore class have.
With the experience and wisdom that the juniors and seniors have to offer the underclassmen, I see something quite unique beginning to form at our campus. We are becoming a family.
That They May Be One
Truly, the Lord will continue the good work He has begun at the College of William & Mary. As we humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face, we believe that he will hear us, forgive our sins, and heal our campus from depression and suicide, anxiety, and success-driven self-indulgence (See 2 Chronicles 7:14).
As we come together, we are spurred on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), and we are sent out into our various spheres of influence and fields of study. In this manner, Jesus’s prayer to God the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane may very well be answered, “that [we] may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23).
We press on, through the familial growing pains that intimacy, authenticity, and vulnerability bring. We stand firm. We pray. We dream.
One Tribe, One Family.
William & Mary’s motto is “One Tribe, One Family”. Pray with us that we become just that, that we become one as Jesus and the Father are one. Let us not be content with those who are already in the family, but let us open, welcome, and usher in new brothers and sisters into the Family of God, to be adopted by Him as sons and daughters in Christ Jesus (See Galatians 4:4-7).