I’ve had five conversations that went almost exactly the same in recent days. A battle-worn college student says, “I’m not even sure what I’m doing here. I feel like I’m doing nothing and headed nowhere. I’m not where I want to be, and I’m really thinking about what I should do…” The conversations were so similar, I could almost believe that someone is handing you guys a script! And so, I want to briefly share my heart with you, if you are a weary college student. First a few questions—but hang with me until the end.
1. Did you rebel against God to get where you are? (If no, then read on. If yes, then you need to make it right and get where God wants you to be.) Point is, if you are in Bible college, you probably didn’t get there by rebellion, and Satan probably didn’t lead you there.
2. Have you slept enough in the last three months? (If no, then you are really tired and fatigue makes for a horrific emotions processor! Don’t jump ship before you get some rest so your brain can be fully functional again. If yes, then what planet are you on? I want to go there!) Point is, most college students are really, really tired at this time of year, and wrestling with emotions of depletion and doubt has a lot to do with fatigue.
3. Are you facing hardships you did not expect? (If no, you can stop reading this because you are not human. If yes, then welcome to the human condition in God’s will.) Hardships and even doubt are often the best evidence that you are right where God wants you. Why else would Satan resist you? If you’re doing the wrong thing, Satan would probably just leave you alone and enjoy the show.
4. Are you where you want to be in life? (If yes, then you are lacking a lot of vision. Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it. If no, then congratulations! You are in college and headed the right direction!) And hence we arrive at the point of this article… where you really want to be in life.
The very nature of college means it’s a place you don’t want to be! I’m not saying you shouldn’t be enjoying it sometimes, making friends, having great memories, and being generally happy. I’m saying, college isn’t a place you go because you want to be there. It’s a place you go because you want to be somewhere else! It’s a place of preparation, not a destination! So by virtue of the fact that you really wish you could already be doing what God has called you to do, you will wrestle with the preparation time. You really won’t want to prepare! It will seem like a waste. You long to be done with preparation so you can commence to doing the passion that God has placed in your heart! What an awesome bummer, huh?
So, having a love/hate relationship with college is a rather natural thing. It’s pretty normal to enjoy the campus life while simultaneously wishing you could fast forward the DVD to graduation, say “been there done that, thanks, it’s been real,” and get on with your God-given dreams. And it’s pretty normal to come to times of doubt, question, and evaluation when the devil wants to throw wide open the door of reconsideration. He will jump on your shoulder faster than you can sneeze, and he will start messing with your mind. “You shouldn’t be here! You don’t fit. You could be enjoying (fill in lies here). If you went back home, you’d have (fill in false fantasies here). You need to (fill in misleading options here).”
Frankly, if you want real bad to just be in college (and that’s it), you need to have your head examined. And you are probably too shortsighted in vision for life. College isn’t the end game—it’s the preparation for the real game! It’s practice. It’s rehearsal. It’s training time. It’s boot camp. Every athlete has wondered what “this drill” has to do with winning the real games. Every musician has wondered what “this exercise” has to do with concert night. Every new worker has wondered what “this discipline” has to do with being successful. And every soldier has wondered what “this inspection” really has to do with winning the war. Preparation is hard and seems pointless. It’s easy to get impatient and stir-crazy. It’s easy to think you can fast-forward the process, skip the pointless, and get right to the meat of life.
But I have to tell you—everything you are going through right now matters. Meat is no fun if you don’t have the teeth to chew it, and nobody ever asked for a “meat smoothie”! (Hey, somebody call Jamba Juice!) No, the stuff you are dealing with matters a lot. It has everything to do with how successful and ready you will be for real life, real ministry, and godly success. You’re growing teeth! Even the feelings of despair and doubt, and pressing through those emotions—conquering them by God’s grace and not allowing them to sideline you—even that is making you and shaping you for God’s purpose and plan.
So, if part of you really hates college and wishes you were someplace else in life—welcome to normal! Your emotions and consternation are merely an indication that God has placed a higher call and deeper passion on your heart. You thirst, you crave, you are chomping at the bit to be done with that which seems to be frivolous. You are salivating to sink your whole heart into significant ministry and authentic purpose. That’s why college seems like an exercise in futility—because it’s a transitional state. At times it seems like it will never end—like you’re a Chilean miner waiting for some big drill bit to come to your rescue.
But you’re not! You’re not buried in blackness, waiting for rescue. God hasn’t forgotten where He left you. The roof hasn’t caved in on you. Quite simply, you weren’t meant to stay in college indefinitely. You were designed by God to get done and get out into the harvest, where you long to be—where your heart beats ever more fervently to be. And you are headed there—no matter what the devil is telling you right now!
Don’t shortcut the process. You need the exercise—even the wrestling match with “fatigue and frustration.” In fact you probably need that more than Homiletics. If you can beat the impatience, you will have conquered the greatest struggle of Bible college. If you can keep impatience from ruining you, then you have a great potential to be mightily used of God. Impatience destroys more people than pretty much anything else.
Your doubt, your despair, your “spinning my wheels headed nowhere” feeling, your deepest lonely moments of emotional introspection—most of it is a product of impatience. “I want to be there now! I don’t want to be here.” The “here” is the catch…
God has you “here” so He can one day take you “there“! If you shortcut “here“—if you bail out on “here” to get “there” sooner—you will never get “there.” College isn’t a place you’re supposed to fall in love with. It’s a place you’re supposed to become increasingly spiritually restless in—so much so, that you press on to the finish line and finally allow God to take you where you have longed to be. And when you get “there”—for all that you went through and wrestled with, you will be a survivor with a well-prepared servant’s heart. You will be useful, teachable, strengthened, well-furnished, and eventually fruitful! You will be an honorable vessel, strengthened by the fire of adversity, and prepared by the pressure of impatience—fit for the Master’s use.
Don’t give in to doubt. See it as a part of the training process, and then spit on it! Defy it! Dare it to knock you off course! Put your tired eyes and uncertain heart back on the face of the One who placed you in Bible college. His grace and His presence alone will see you through. And one day, I promise, you will glad you stayed “here” so that God could eventually take you “there“!
Stay in the preparation! We need you one day on the battlefield! And yes, the real battle is everything you dream it will be and much, much more. But if you don’t let God prepare you, it will crush you before you really begin. Trust me—I promise—it’s all worth it. Determine right now, before you click off this page— “By God’s grace, I will beat impatience!”
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35-36)