On a dreary Thursday afternoon in New York, I was sitting with a student in New York University’s Kimmel Center. We began with small talk and a few jokes here and there, but the conversation soon picked up steam. A lot questions were asked by the student. His main question for me was, “How did you know what you were going to do after graduation? How can you be certain that this was God’s calling for you?”
After pondering and formulating a strategic response, I thought of the best way to give him direction. I told the student that, as someone who now travels and ministers to different campuses, for many years people often told me while I was in college that this was where God would reveal his calling. To my immigrant parents though, it was less about calling, and more about finding a career and moving up in society in order to fulfill my filial duties as a son to my parents.
Who Are You?
Even when you graduate, you’re not guaranteed to find out what your career will be or what God’s calling for you may be. Even though there are many expectations of where’d you like to go, it may not be the path that is ordained by God for you to take.
I told my student that, after my first year of college, I came to the realization that I needed to know the answer to the question, “Who are you?” That question would challenge and open up many more questions, but it’s a step into deep-rooted prayer to understand your identity in the Lord. For college students, this is part of the process of growing into adulthood, and understanding the mission and dreams God has imparted in you since the day you were born.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
C.S Lewis illustrates this journey in his book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third book in his seven book series. The book is the story of the two youngest Pevensie children, Lucy and Edmund, who were staying at their cousin Eustace’s home. They’re drawn into the world of Narnia, again. The children go on a journey with Prince Caspian and his crew in search of the missing Lords of Narnia.
In their journey, the children encounter many trials and challenges. Eustace turns into a dragon, but with Aslan’s help, is able to change back into a boy. The three children and a mouse name Reepicheep venture to the edge of the world and into Aslan’s country. Lucy and Edmund encounter Aslan again to hear the news that they can never return to Narnia again. Eustace, however, is able to return to Narnia again. Although they will not meet Aslan in Narnia again, they can know him in their own world: “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
College is Like Narnia
Lewis was clever in writing a story within a story for us. College is like Narnia. The only differences are the flying, talking animals, mythical creatures, and sword fighting. For the children, their biggest step is to grow in maturity and transformation. They have to communicate and trust Aslan as he led them on the right path. Even though he wasn’t present at every moment, he was always walking beside them when they called out.
College is a scary time with many expectations and the bar set higher and higher as each successive generation graduates. What makes the journey meaningful and special is the process it takes on our knees in prayer when things seem uncertain, to know that Jesus is always there in times of trouble and joy.
Anthony Deng is the New York City Metro Campus Coordinator for Campus Renewal. He leads and coordinates volunteers for events such as One Cry and helps facilitate the New York City Metro Area student core team. Anthony was born and raised in New York City, graduated from CUNY the City College of New York, and has a B.A in History and Asian Studies. Anthony gives New York City tours to freshmen of various campuses. On his tour, he teaches and shows students various hidden gems of New York City. On the side, he loves to collect college sweatshirts and t-shirts. In addition, he loves to play and watch basketball and football. He an avid fan of the Pacers & Colts.