Saturday, August 10, 2013

Vast the Ocean

In just eight short days I will be headed back to Chicago for my junior year of college. I have to admit that I was actually surprised when I was looking over some paperwork for school and happened to glance at my academic year. Am I really halfway through? Some days I feel like I’ve barely gotten settled into life at Moody Bible Institute and couldn’t possibly have been there for two years. Yet other days I wonder what my life was like before college: it seems like I’ve been there forever! But even in the midst of my up-and-down, crazy, mixed-up emotions and thoughts related to school, I am unbelievably excited for the opportunity that God has given me to continue my education at MBI this year. Ever since my first semester, I’ve had to periodically step back and remind myself that yes, I really do go to school here. I’m overwhelmed by the blessing it has been, and I could not have dreamed of anything better.
This year my roommate and I are going to be celebrating the countless reasons we have to praise God. The theme for our room is 10,000, representing the myriad of blessings and joys in our lives and the innumerable reasons we have to praise our Heavenly Father! We have several posters for our room to remind us, as well as a journal in which to make our great big list of praises throughout the year.
As I’ve been preparing to go back to school I’ve been reflecting on just a few of the many joys that have filled my heart to overflowing, specifically those related to school. More than anything else I’ve been struck by the reality that God has placed some amazing people in my life. I’d like to share about just a few of them.
Ever since my very first piano lesson at Moody, I knew that I had an incredible teacher. But it wasn’t until this summer that I truly realized what a gift it has been to study the piano with him for the past two years. I’ve always been so thankful to have a piano teacher who prays for me, encourages me, challenges me, points me to Scripture as my source of truth, and helps me navigate the questions of who I am and who I’m trying to become. Not only that, but this summer I realized that he has taught me to love the piano in a way that I never did before. As I was thinking about my schedule and how I could squeeze in an extra hour of practice each day, I realized that I have grown to love playing in a way that no one can teach you. It has to be caught, and I caught it from the gentleman who loves green, enjoys making up crazy stories, and teaches me to center my love for music on my desire to serve God and pursue Him in all things.
Another person that comes to mind whenever I think about what the Lord has taught me in my time at Moody is my band director. He’s the professor that can always tell when my brain is a million miles away and isn’t afraid to ask where I’ve gone. He’s the one I know I can count on when I need a good dose of perspective on life, and he’s the only person I know who can speak incredibly bluntly while maintaining a deep sense of kindness and sensitivity. Usually in a sentence or two he can put into perspective whatever frustration or uncertainty I’m dealing with. But he’s also never afraid to let me think through things and figure them out for myself. Although he’s smarter than I ever hope to be and can almost always give me a perfectly satisfactory answer in about five seconds, he’s also willing to reason through things with me, engage in an intellectual discussion, and help me draw my own conclusions. He not only offers the wisdom and help from an older adult that people my age need, but also encourages me to think carefully and use the mind and intelligence that I’ve been given. He and his wife have poured unbelievable amounts of love, kindness, and acceptance into my life, and will forever be role models to me of what it looks like to live for Jesus in real life.
And of course, somewhere along the way I’m reminded that I probably never would have made it to Moody without the encouragement of my senior high pastor. He was the one to tell me about MBI, convince me to visit and apply, and talk sense into me when I doubted my decision to go there. But far better than the wisdom he shared when I was deciding where to go to school, he is the one who modeled to me what it means to root myself in the truth of the gospel. In everything I’ve learned at Moody, whether through classes, friends, church, or other circumstances, it always brings me back to the truth of who Christ is and what He has done for me. And I realize that my pastor was the first person to tell me that it’s the gospel that changes everything, defines who I am and what I’m living for, and brings into perspective every other matter that I am confronted with. It is the gospel that gives me true hope, joy, peace, security, and identity, and anchors me in the midst of life’s changing circumstances. My pastor is the one who taught me that everything about me and everything I believe comes back to the simple yet profound truth that Jesus died so I wouldn’t have to. I’ll never fully understand it, yet each day it is my joy to learn more of what that truth means, and I will always be grateful for the pastor who models for me what it looks like to center myself on the truth of who Christ is and what He has accomplished on my behalf.
There are so many more people I could mention, lives that the Lord has used to touch mine, dear friends who daily challenge me to pursue holiness and strive to be more like Christ. My roommate is one of these precious people, and I look forward to celebrating with her throughout the year the countless reasons we have to praise and thank God. His goodness amazes me each and every day and I believe I’ll continue to see that as I take on a new school year just a few weeks from now.
This summer I’ve been playing an arrangement of “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” and as I reflect on the great love that I have been shown, as well as the grace and goodness that are daily poured into my life, it is the final verse of this hymn that comes to my mind:
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best,
Vast the ocean of his blessing, sweet the haven of his rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus – for my heaven of heavens is he;
This my everlasting glory – Jesus’ mighty love for me!
Indeed, vast is the ocean of blessing flowing from the heart of our God! He alone is worthy of glory, honor, and praise, for all He has done and all He has promised to do!
[Soli Deo Gloria]