myMISSION Collegiate Blog

Step 1: Prayer

As much as I hate to admit it, many times my prayers closely resemble the Christmas lists I used to mail to Santa as a child—a list of very selfish wants and needs. While my requests to God have matured just as I have, they still very often revolve around me: “Lord, help me focus so I can ace this test,” or “give me the patience to deal with my co-workers.”

When I do extend my circle of prayer, it is usually to include my friends and family who I know have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But what about those who don’t? Why is it so important to pray for those who don’t yet know of God’s love, and how do we do it?

God is working in people’s lives long before they hear the gospel. That work continues with our prayers. It is the catalyst that ignites the desire to know God. When spreading the gospel, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons we have when fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:16–18).

Be Strong and Take Heart

Sharing the gospel is no easy thing. Neither is giving up spring break to go on a missions trip or evangelizing your late night study group. But God calls us to declare His glory among all people (1 Chron. 16:24), and that is what we must do.

I was 13 the first time I remember “formally” sharing the gospel with other people. As one of the only girls in my missions group, I was volunteered to speak to the residents of the homeless shelter where we had spent the previous week working. I was terrified. To tell the truth, I don’t even remember what I said. What I do remember is praying all morning, nonstop, that God would give me the courage to share His story and the words to do it.

Don’t Get ahead of Yourself

Sometimes I get so far ahead of myself on a project or a task that I forget what the original task was. I skim through the instructions, fail to ask my professor for any tips or guidelines, and dive headfirst into whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing—until I get stuck. Then, frustrated, I am forced to go back, reread, and ask questions, merely to discover I was only about 15% right in the direction I was headed.

Someone once reminded me that if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you’ll have time to redo it later? It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Unfortunately I catch myself doing this with the gospel as well. I will set out in hopes of sharing the news of Jesus Christ without first talking with my Teacher and heading His instructions through prayer.

Extraordinary Blessings in Ordinary Places

I like to consider myself a person who delights in the simple pleasures of life. A cup of coffee in the morning, a hug from a friend, or an afternoon spent driving with my windows down can lift my spirits more than an expensive trip to a spa or any sort of “retail therapy.”

Recently the Lord has been teaching me to see these small comforts as they are meant to be seen: as blessings from Him. Second Corinthians 1:3 says God is the “God of all comfort” and James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” So it is obvious that any happiness we derive from the little things, as long as they are free from sin, comes as a gift from the Lord.

Lessons from around Dinner Tables

I’m usually confused when I see hospitality listed as one of the spiritual gifts. The others seem more tied to spirituality and ministry. The gifts of discernment, encouragement, and leadership are so obviously linked with the Holy Spirit and the daily Christian walk that the gift of hospitality, for me, seems only distantly related.

The idea of outstanding hospitality in our global culture is so foreign that I have stopped expecting it from others and even stopped focusing on it myself. It was only on a short trip to Ireland that I learned hospitality means something more than simply maintaining a house.

Over the course of a week while studying abroad, 2 friends and I took a road trip through the Irish countryside and then ended up in Dublin for a few days. Overall, the Irish people were welcoming and kind enough, but we were not expecting the hospitality we received.

Self-Editing and the Struggle for Authenticity

I’m a peer writing tutor at my university. Students will come to the writing center for feedback about papers, essays, and even the occasional creative writing piece. I love this job . . . every day at work is a new one with new challenges and individuals. I love people, I love words, and I love being able to help.

Sometimes, however, this impulse to edit creeps its way into the rest of my life. I am often tempted to look at others and their actions, and, in the same way that I would correct their grammar, I highlight their poor choices and suggest what changes they should make. This “life editing” is not new and not something that is unique to me. It is a daily struggle of which I am acutely aware.

The Original Storyteller

As an English major, my life is inundated with stories. From the beginning to the end of each semester, I can read anything from historical nonfiction, such as The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, to English Victorian gothic fiction, such as Wuthering Heights. In many ways, I’ve always understood that our lives are rooted in the stories we know and tell. Stories shape who we are and how we relate to others.

London, Listening, and Counter-Cultural Living

If we are going to make changes in our culture, we have to live counter-culturally. A mentor of mine often repeats these simple, wise words. Opportunities to live in a way that challenges our culture are easy to find in college. By choosing to make godly decisions in the midst of the temptations and challenges students face almost daily, counter-cultural and cultural living can seem as starkly different as black and white.

Then, suddenly, something happens that rips you away from your comfortable student bubble. You could graduate, transfer colleges, or even simply realize that you don’t know your university as well as you thought you did. If you’re like me, you can study abroad for a semester in London and realize just how little you really understand about other cultures. I no longer have the luxury of simply living against the status quo. I first have to identify differences between England and my home that do not reflect God and then live against the flow. In new places, though, not getting caught up in the flow is hard to do.

A Lack of Skill

I have a really bad habit of doing a quick self-assessment of my skills whenever the Lord gives me an opportunity to share the gospel.

For example, I see someone sitting alone in the cafeteria and the Spirit starts tugging. I immediately think, “Great! I’m really good at starting conversations and I can tell funny stories. This will be easy.” Or someone will tell me a struggle they’re going through and I get excited because of all my “knowledge” on the subject.

I became aware of this bad habit one day while working at a summer camp. My camp director asked me if I would spend my free time in the gym. Normally I spent my free time close to the snack canteen, bonding with middle school girls over card games and frozen soft drinks, and I wasn’t too excited to try something new.

Especially when that something new was the gym.

I’m 5’1, and my basketball days ended in about middle school. I had absolutely no skills in order to be effective in this area. But even so, I made my way to the gym and prayed that the Lord would use my time in the gym.

Better than Nothing

Sometimes in college it’s easy to have the “better than nothing” attitude. It’s a familiar story: You have weeks and weeks to work on a paper but somehow it only gets started 10 hours before the actual due date. Is it the best paper? Nope. But hey, it’s better than nothing.

If I’m being honest, this “better than nothing” attitude has bled over into my relationship with Christ. It’s affected my time with Him and trying to live on mission.

A quick devotion on my phone right before I doze off to sleep at night has become routine because it’s better than not doing a quiet time. Smiling at those people the Spirit tugs on my heart for has become a replacement for actually talking to them because it’s better than just ignoring them. Promising to pray for people that don’t know Jesus has taken the place of actually sharing the gospel because it’s better than nothing.

When did I become so OK with choosing between better and nothing? And when did I begin to believe that those were my only two options?

Through the grace of Jesus, we don’t have to choose between better and nothing. Through Jesus, we can choose the best.

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