University is an experience that many deem the ‘best years of your life’. I used to think that this was just because of the no-rules, no-parents, lets-get-drunk-every-night aspect. Personally, that’s never been my scene. So when I arrived at uni as a fresher, I thought they might be ‘alright years’, but my expectations were pretty low. Boy, did God teach me a lesson!
It’s an experience unlike any other where we are surrounded by thousands of total strangers, where we learn to feed ourselves with no money, and where we actually have to wash our own clothes too!! In the process, we turn into caffeine addicts, and sometimes, it can even feel like someone’s idea for a mad reality TV drama! But amongst all the craziness, university is a time where God can seriously challenge us, build us, and influence us to become the people we’re designed to be.
There are a few things I think are really important to remember when you enter university and throughout the following years where so many life changing things will happen:
DON’T LIMIT GOD WITH LOW EXPECTATIONS.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) This verse says it all. Our human brains can’t even begin to comprehend the plans God has for us. I could never have imagined the life God had waiting for me when I came to university. I have done so many things I never would have thought possible and, if I had stayed in my comfort zone, I may never have realised the awesome-ness that was God’s plan. Don’t miss out on the opportunities you are given during this time, because He can do immeasurably more through you than you could ever dream of.
YOUR IDENTITY IS IN GOD.
Identity is something widely discussed at university. It’s something everyone wants to find, and some people will spend their whole lives searching for. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 43:1 which says “Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you. I have called you by name and you are mine.” We are His. No matter what life throws at us, the one thing that we can be sure about is our identity in God. This verse also shows the incredible character of God as He doesn’t say “don’t be afraid because I will punish anyone who hurts you”, or “don’t be afraid because I’ll give you super powers to save yourself” even though, as creator of the universe He can pretty much do whatever He wants! He emphasises the one thing that we need to know to get us through anything we face. The only thing that actually matters. That we are His.
REMEMBER, IT’S OK NOT TO BE OK.
Sometimes, Christians can get the idea it is somehow wrong to feel a bit scared in life. It’s easy to interpret verses like “be strong and brave” (Deuteronomy 31:6) and to “not worry about anything” (Matthew 6:25) as meaning ‘don’t ever feel frightened‘. But that’s not what they’re saying. And sometimes, we put pressure on ourselves that can lead to feeling guilty when we are going through tough times, because we’re afraid of being afraid! But this is not the case. Having God in our lives doesn’t mean we won’t feel worried. It means that through those challenging times, we can lean on God’s strength to do what we feel that we can’t do. “His power is made perfect in our weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) The impact of this verse is amazing, as it implies that the less we feel we can offer, the more we can know God will provide. So in those times in your life when you feel completely at a loss – watch out – because God is probably up to something big!
GET PLANTED IN A GREAT CHURCH!
The Sunday of my second week at university I found The Junction Church and with it, I discovered an incredible community. Having a place where I knew I could get to and be encouraged at the start of each week made all the difference in the world, especially in my first year. Getting around people who will champion you and support you is so important in life in general, but even more so at university with the fast paced changes that you will face, I can’t recommend enough that you get planted into a good church. God has awesome plans for each and every one of our lives, we just need to be willing to take away the limits we put on God and ourselves, keep our eyes focussed on the identity we have in the One who made us and learn how to look for God’s strength in our weakness.