College is the time to explore yourself. Its the time to have experiences that you will never forget. This time is about you. After these four years, you’re going to have to be in the real world. Don’t worry about responsibility and be free.
This is a general idea of college for our culture. We see it depicted in entertainment as a period of life with loose morals and risky decisions all while obtaining a degree to use later on in life. And often times, that is how we view college. Simply put, we think college is our time. No more parents to tell us what to do. No more curfew. No one looking over our shoulder. There’s freedom for us to make our own choices, and unfortunately, we tend to think that they don’t come with consequences. Many students get to their senior year and have their lack of responsibility catch up with them. For some of us, it will be years down the road that our decisions now will impact us. But I can promise you one thing: your decisions now affect your future.
Exploration is Your Preparation
Those first statements about college are not a bad mindset to have toward college. Honestly, we need to have this mindset, but it needs to be paired with an eternal perspective as well. So yes, college is a time that you are given limited responsibilities and a whole lot of free time, but why? Well lets take a look at Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 which says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.” God is the creator of all things, and he is the one who designed our college years to give us more free time than we’ll ever have. And he has given us this season to plant in expectation of the future. Now when we see the time he has given us through this lens, we see we should be using it to prepare for the future. Just as a farmer plants an apple seed and an apple tree grows, the habits we form now are the seeds that will soon grow into a tree later in our life. But whatever we plant now, will come to harvest in the future. So the question we have to ask is what are the seeds I’m planting that will soon shape the fruit of my life in the future? Here are a few areas I think God wants us to prepare ourselves for now, so we will be well equipped to be used by him in the future.
Our Relationship with God
Sadly, this area of life is one of the first things to go when people get to campus. We tend to get this mindset of “I’ll go back to God after my college years. This is my time.” My question is how are you just going to jump right back into that relationship? Relationships with other people are hard enough in and of themselves, but I never take a four year break from a friend and then pick right back up where we left off. If you stop hanging out with someone and start hanging out with other people, you’re going to change. The same goes for your relationship with God. If you are not hanging out with God regularly, you are not going to be like Him. And when you finally do run back him again like a long lost friend, your not going to have anything in common except “the good ole days,” and who knows if you will see them as that.
The truth about college is that it is the crossroads of your relationship with God. You’re finally on your own, and you no longer live off of your family’s spirituality. God puts you through the fire, and you truly see whether your faith is true or not. One way to prepare and pursue God with your whole heart is found in John 15 where Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you.” The word abide translates to “remain, stay, wait for, keep on.” This shows us that to lay the foundation for our future relationship with God means we must be pursuing a relationship with God now. Not just a casual say hey every now and then relationship, but instead, a relationship that dictates all our other relationships. For many of us, we envision our family in the future, and we want it to be a beautiful, Jesus-loving family. But that starts with us being a Jesus-pursuing college student right now. Even more than that, God wants us to create a habit of abiding in Him. He wants us to start recklessly pursuing Christ in our college years, so we can live a full life to Him.
Our Relationship with Our Future Spouse
A misconception that comes along with your college years is that you will go on many dates, meet your future husband or wife, and be married as soon as you graduate. But that’s the exception. It’s not wrong. It just is not how it normally goes. God did not give us this time to find a spouse or for us to be single. He gave it to us so we can be satisfied and content in Him. We must understand this before we can be ready to pursue a relationship with another person. Truly, the key to preparing yourself to be in a relationship with someone else is to pursue God and your relationship with Him. If not, you are going to enter into a relationship with another person and look to them to find your contentment and joy which they cannot fulfill. As Paul Tripp says, “The cross of Jesus Christ is the epicenter of hope in every relationship.” As God begins to show you that you are ready for a relationship, keep your future spouse in mind. Just because you are in a relationship with someone, doesn’t mean you are going to marry them. So don’t give away what God wants you to save for marriage. This isn’t just sexually. Think emotionally and spiritually.
As you are spending time with God, He is going to reveal to you a passion that you can not escape. Its what you day dream about. Its what you read about. It consumes you. This is your calling. Maybe it will be your full-time career, or what your full-time career helps support, but whatever it is God has wired you specifically for this calling. As Romans 11:29 says, “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Now this is talking about God’s call of salvation, but I believe with that is a specific calling for each of us. And that goes hand in hand in the gifts God has given you. Paul writes anxiously to the Corinthians, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uniformed.” What Paul is saying here is that God has given each and every one of us a unique desires and skills to be used by Him, and there is not a better time than our college years to figure out what they are and develop them. Some of us know exactly what God has called us to, and if you do, find every way possible to learn and get involved with whatever that it is. No matter what our calling is, one way we can prepare is by doing our best in our classes. This will teach us discipline, and how to motivate ourselves in burdensome situations. For some of us, we have no clue what God wants us to do with our life. The best way to prepare for the unknown is allow ourself to become well rounded. We need to try different things. Put ourself in new environments. Stretch ourselves. God does not use the qualified. He qualifies who He uses. So put yourself in any and every situation to be used by God.