By Chaelin Jung '23
The other day, I called a friend from home. Our hours-long conversation was a mélange of unfortunate, but humorous, first-semester-of-college misfortunes and serious reflections on how we were doing emotionally and spiritually.
In the hastily made list of topics I had scrawled down in preparation for our conversation, a theme became very, very clear: this would be a season of pruning and of molding, a season of painful growth but also of tremendous blessing. In my approximately two months of college, I’ve been challenged, pushed, rebuked, but also shown grace and love, strengthened, and blessed. Each day brings a new set of unfamiliar situations through which God has been teaching me abundantly.
Here is everything — well, almost everything — I’ve learned in the past two months as well as the verses and songs that have been sources of great encouragement:
Community is non-negotiable when it comes to walking in faith.
During the first couple of weeks of college, I often thought to myself, “Is there a single other Christian on this entire campus?” I was meeting so many incredible people from around the world; yet, I felt so lonely, and I found myself wondering how I would possibly be able to pursue God alone for the next four years. But through campus ministry and a local church I’ve come to absolutely love, I’ve found my people: brothers and sisters who love the Lord, who carry my burdens and encourage me in my weakness. And through this, I’ve realized that trying to live Christian life alone is impossible: without the horizontal relationship with other believers, my vertical relationship with God is tenuous. Community opens up so many opportunities to receive and to give. Bible studies, conversations over meals, corporate prayers, Sunday worship – in all these things, God is not only present, but He is also actively moving.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
Jesus, We Love You | Bethel Music
The line between honoring God through diligent work and idolizing work itself is thin.
Work is dignifying and was designed to bring God glory. And my current calling is to be a student; how I can best glorify God through that is to be productive and studious, to produce work of integrity. We are to give ourselves fully to our work. But I’ve found myself submitting to the pressures of “the grind,” even feeling guilty when I take some time for myself. It’s no surprise that I find myself wrestling with imposter syndrome almost everyday — feeling inadequate compared to my peers and incapable of meeting both self-imposed and external expectations. And to be honest, I’m still not sure how to make work not the prize itself but rather a means to honor God. So I repent for a heart that is so easily swayed by worldly measures of success and pray for a heart that longs solely to love God and make Him known.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. Colossians 3:23 (ESV)
Crowns | Hillsong Worship
Discipline leads to more effective discipleship.
In a new lifestyle that is organized around meticulously kept planners, where every minute of every day is carved out for a different task and the perpetual state of existence fatigue, finding time to spend intentionally with God has been difficult. With so many things to do and so little time, sacrificing that half-hour to spend meditating in Scripture or that one hour to go to prayer meeting can feel unwise or even wasteful. But as I’m trying to be faithful to my purpose here at Brown, I see that any ministry effort, any relationship, any opportunity will be fruitless and ineffective if not done with God, in God, and through God. I don’t want to reduce God to a task to be completed either — He is God over my entire life. My two goals for this semester is to grow in understanding of the Word and being more prayerful, so I’ve been trying to find concrete ways to do that. I’ve been venturing to parts of the Bible I’ve never studied at length before, and I’ve been more diligent in intercessory prayer for others. As a result, I’ve realized that “devotionals,” really are just that: declarations of God, this half-hour I spend in Your Word, this day I spend going to classes and club meetings, this semester of college, I devote wholly to you. Use it, bless it, strengthen me through it so that I would be an effective disciple of Christ.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (ESV)
I Give You My Heart | Hillsong Worship
Trusting in God means not only trusting in His future goodness but also praising Him for His present faithfulness.
I am, admittedly, an incredibly impatient person. I remember constantly wishing during the first few weeks of college that I could somehow just skip over the awkward, uncomfortable first semester of college and be planted into the settled, situated version of myself. In every endeavor from making friends to trying to find a church, I felt lost and so unsure of absolutely everything. And in that state of unknowingness, I couldn’t escape my narrow field of vision to see God’s sovereignty above it all. But in His grace, God heard it all: the prayers stored up in the summer before college, the cries of loneliness, the honest and challenging conversations, and the supplications lifted up on my behalf by others. And just as He promised, He has been so so good to me. I listened to the song “Yes and Amen” by Housefires on repeat in the months before I left for college, and that praise has never been more real in my life. Like the lyrics of the song say, all God’s promises are yes and amen, so my confidence is in His faithfulness. So in the waiting, I’ll praise Him. In the awkwardness, unfamiliarity, and trials of my first semester, I’m choosing to trust because I know His vision is bigger and His plans greater.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)
Yes and Amen | Housefires
Submitting myself to the work God wants to do in my life is scary, and in my faithlessness, I often doubt. God, is this all worth it? Why are you putting me through this? Why can’t it be easier? But at the same time, I am more sure of my convictions than ever. I’m hopeful for everything God has in store for me the next four years. I’m reminded daily that where He leads, He provides — community, strength, and endless supplies of grace — and that He promises us every spiritual blessing in Christ. And with a God like that, how could I not rejoice?