By Angie Giancola

The One Thing I Learned Last Year

Each morning, I find myself thinking: Less than two weeks? Less than two weeks! 

In less than two weeks, I’ll be back at school preparing for my senior year of college. Part of me feels like summer just started, but then part of me has been pining to get back to campus for months.

I can't wait to see my friends and to see how God will blow my mind this year.

Last week, we saw Paul encourage the church in Thessalonica to wait patiently for God’s justice (this church thought Christ would return in their lifetime, bringing justice and usher them home to be with God).

Paul encourages them to patiently trust in Christ’s timing. However, just a few chapters later, Paul gives further encouragement that gives us insight into our purpose as we head back to campus:

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

Our Prayer and Ultimate Goal

When I read this passage, I could not help but think of my small group from this past year.

In one year, one girl from our small group accepted Christ, another was physically healed from chronic migraines, we gained five or six new members to our group, and I saw one of my best friends explore who Jesus is through Bible study.

I had never seen the gospel spread so rapidly in my entire life. Last year was a reminder to me of our chapter's main purpose on campus to spread the message and love of Christ.

Paul continues on by encouraging us to be in prayer for perseverance and strength.

While many of us may not encounter physical persecution in the same way the Thessalonians church did, Paul assures us that the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen us and protect us from the evil one. So we must not be discouraged, but allow for the comfort and assurance of Christ to wash over us as we prepare to spread His message across our campuses.

Lastly, Paul ends with a blessing: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance."

Keeping Love at the Center

If there is one thing that I learned this past year, it is this: God’s love must be at the center of my ministry.

But, just as Paul tells the church in Corinth, our attempts are futile without love. Our words become nothing but clanging symbols, our faith turns to ashes, and we gain nothing in our attempts.

It is only by centering our hearts and lives on God’s love that we will see mountains move, people healed, and lives transformed.

Take time this week to prepare yourself for your return to campus. Who is God calling you to reach out to this year? Pray for strength, and ask that the Lord would direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Angie Giancola is a senior and president of the InterVarsity chapter at Virginia Tech. She blogs at www.a-giancola7.tumblr.com.

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