Living for God Is Hard, Part 1: Stories from Urbana
I look like a pretty typical Christian girl. I grew up in a Christian family like most of my friends involved in campus ministries. My parents were missionaries when I was younger. I’m pretty sure I held the Sunday school record for flipping to the correct book of the Bible the fastest. And by the time I began college I had already been on two mission trips.
However, though I can say with confidence that I was saved and have had a personal relationship with God since elementary school, the truth was that by my senior year in high school, my spiritual walk was somewhat in shambles. I had reached a point where I could see the disconnect between how I was living and how the Bible said I should live. I also read Crazy Love by Francis Chan during that year, and began to realize that following Christ was an all or nothing thing. I had many questions and fears about my faith and about God.
When I began my first year of college, I immediately checked out many campus ministries, desperate to find a community of Christians who could guide me in my walk. Eventually I became part of the InterVarsity chapter at my school, and then also signed up for Urbana as soon as I heard about it. Friends told me that there is no better place than Urbana to experience the Holy Spirit at work.
Giving Up My Life
After a week at Urbana I wasn’t the same, though it wasn’t at all what I expected. I thought I would leave with questions answered and a spirit overflowing with boldness and joy. Instead, every day at Urbana, God was breaking me down and then building me up. I realized in a new way that spiritual growth is not easy. God convicted me of heart sins and idols, which I then placed in front of him. I also realized that if I wanted to be effective for God, spiritual discipline is where I would need to start.
As Urbana wrapped up, I felt like the rich young ruler who had approached Jesus. “Are you willing to give your idols and your old self up for me?” I sensed him asking me. And I said yes. “Take everything I am,” I told Jesus, echoing the words of a song we sang during Urbana. “I’m clay within your hands. I will go. I will go. Send me.”
Trust me—this wasn’t done without fear or doubt. But our God has a knack for working with just a little bit of faith and causing it to grow and multiply.
As soon as I arrived home I prayed with my mom and then sold half of my clothes, because I realized materialism was one of my idols. I invested the money I earned in a Christian scholarship program for students in Jamaica. In addition, after being equipped at Urbana with manuscript Bible study guides, I initiated two GIGs (Groups Investigating God) with some of my non-Christian friends. I was on my way to being a “successful,” obediently-ever-after Urbana attendee.
But sanctification is a process. And I feel like I would be lying if I ended the story here.
Check back tomorrow for part two.
This week at the blog, just over six months since close to 16,000 of us gathered in St. Louis, we’re telling stories from Urbana 12. How did God speak there? What has he done in these past six months? What have you learned? How are you different?
The stories we’re sharing offer a range of experiences—both hard struggles and deep joy. We hope they encourage you to reflect on your own Urbana experience, and to continue to tell others the story of God’s work in you.
The author is a second-year student who loves reading, dancing, longboarding, and crafting. Most importantly, she is a child of God who is enraptured by his crazy love. Her mission is to glorify him in all that she does.