During the last few days, I’ve been on Marshall’s campus. This is “move in” week on and I can’t help but be excited for all the kids, especially the freshmen, who are beginning their college experience. I remember years ago when I started college and how excited I was. I also remember what it’s like to be given more freedom than I’d ever known – and that where my prayer request comes from today.
I know many of these Marshall students. Some are graduates of the school where I serve as President, others are from the church I pastor, but others I’ve met just by hanging out in Huntington. During the next few days and weeks – yes, that fast – these guys and gals will make choices that will affect the rest of their lives. Some – especially the sheltered Christian ones – will finally taste a freedom from mom and dad they’ve never experienced. Some will handle this freedom responsibly and will continue on the road to becoming mature adults. Others won’t. They’ll experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex; they’ll lay out of church and stop reading their Bibles; they’ll compromise their character and integrity in order to fit in with and have friends.
It’s not an easy road – and seldom will a student go “all in” one way or the other. Most will make some good choices and some bad ones. I believe our job is to pray for them, love them, support them, and be patient with them during this time.
College is a time to better yourself, but it’s also time to find yourself. And what’s most important for these students is that they cultivate an understanding of the God who walks before them and with them as they navigate these choices. During the wise decisions and even the poor ones, He’s there. In the confusion and in the uncertainty, His Spirit is always available to bring comfort and direction. And when mistakes are made, Jesus is always there – no matter what the offense – to forgive and get them back on track.
Please pray for our students as they begin this year. College doesn’t have to be the drunken, weed-laced orgy it’s sometimes represented to be in popular culture. It certainly wasn’t for me. College was where I learned to follow Christ. I made the best friends I’ve ever had – and we prayed together, studied Scripture together, and served our community together. We weren’t angels by any means – and we still aren’t – but there’s one thing we had that was absolutely undeniable, and that’s the manifest presence of God. He made all the difference for us – and He still does.
I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world – and I’m praying that as many students in our city as possible will see God use this season of their lives to make Himself known to them.
The knowledge found in college is an undeniable good. But the knowledge of God is an incommensurable good. May these students gain such knowledge during their college years – and may they use it to make their lives, and our city, filled with His peace and prosperity.