Your first year of college is an exciting season of life, teeming with changes and new beginnings. Your first semester of college life will be a pivotal transition period leading into the rest of your college career and even beyond. You will be met with not only new challenges and sometimes overwhelming demands, but also with numerous opportunities and tremendous potential for success.
If there is one word to describe college, it is this: opportunity. It is the opportunity for a fresh start. It is the opportunity to start over and become whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. It is the opportunity to make new and lifetime friendships. It is the opportunity to find a career. It is the opportunity to discover your passions. It is the opportunity to succeed or fail and try again. And most of all, college is the opportunity to stand strong for your faith or abandon it. You will be faced with a choice—to follow God, or to follow self. Your faith will have the opportunity to grow and become stronger than ever, or it will become neglected, apathetic, and perhaps even die. Therefore, today is the day as is every day to choose—to “choose today whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15a).
If you have been doing alright with life and keeping the faith up until this point, do not quit now! Do not stop fighting for the faith. Stand strong for what you believe in. At college you will be confronted time and time again with moral dilemmas and oppositions to your faith. You might wonder, “Should I go to that party or not? It’s just one little drink, right? Maybe I could be a witness there?” It becomes easy to make up excuses and to rationalize actions. Small compromises will lead down a slippery slope to a place that you never wanted to go. People, environment, culture and circumstances will all present you with opportunities. They will whisper into your ear to do this or to do that, go this way or that way. But you will have to decide for yourself whose voice you will follow. If you seek the Lord, He will help you to know what is right and what is wrong. Paul reminds and encourages the believer to remain steadfast:“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:15-18). Colossians 4:5-6 states, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
Or perhaps you are on the other end of the spectrum. You have made a mess of your high school testimony and are fearful of what awaits you in college. But take heart and remember to whom you belong! You are not your past, and God offers you a new and bright future. He offers you a plan of hope. Contemporary band Tenth Avenue North writes: “This is not about what you’ve done, but what’s been done for you. This is not about where you’ve been, but where your brokenness brings you to[…]You are more than the choices that you’ve made; you are more than the sum of your past mistakes; you are more than the problems you create; you’ve been remade” (You Are More).
College is the opportunity to do things right this time around. It is a second chance, the chance for a fresh start. God will use you if you are willing. All you have to do is make yourself ready and available, and He is faithful and true. He will do incredible, beautiful, world-changing things in and through your life if you let Him. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Towards the end of his life, Joshua stood before the Israelites and gave them a farewell address. In this final charge, he retold the history of God’s people and how God led them into the Promised Land and provided for them at all times. Despite the people’s lack of faith and gratitude, God remained faithful, and absolutely none of His promises failed. He accomplished all He set out to do. Thus Joshua spoke out to the people, inspiring them to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, “Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve […] But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).
And then the people responded,“We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, He preserved us[…] So we, too, will serve the Lord, for He alone is our God” (Joshua 24:16-17, 18b).
Remember, God has rescued you from your slavery to sin and self. He has performed the mighty miracle of opening your eyes to truth and regenerating your heart. Even when times get tough—term papers due and finals week approaching, or there are roommate conflicts and social pressures—God will lead you and preserve you.No matter what, Joshua chose to serve the Lord. He did not care if anyone else followed; he was determined to follow God until the very end. And now you too must make that same choice. The time and place may be different, but the choice is the same. Choose God or not. Who will you choose to be in college? In life? In your faith? Every choice will lead you in a direction—to life or to death, to God or to sin. Each decision will bring you one step closer or further from God. So choose God. Choose life! Today, tomorrow, and every day, may you choose to serve the Lord!
Finley can be reached at: [email protected] How do you intend to stand strong for your faith as the new college year begins? We want to know your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]