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What attribute of God has been the most evident in your time at NWC?
 

Throughout my time at Northwestern, God has revealed Himself to me in a variety of ways; however, the attribute that has probably been the most evident in my journey over the last four years is His omniscience. God is omniscient, meaning He knows everything. He is present everywhere at the same time, and He is aware of every moment of every day. As I reflect on the past four years, I am thankful for all the ways in which God has shaped my college experience. In no way have these four years been what I planned or expected, but God has proven Himself faithful time and time again. At Northwestern, I have faced some of my hardest days, I have questioned why and been challenged beyond what I could imagine; however, as I look back, God’s greater plan was truly better than mine. God knows each situation we go throughwhether it be good or bad. He knows exactly how much we can handle and the perfect timing for everything. He knows each day and how it fits into our story. I’ve learned the importance of relying on God and putting my own plans and expectations aside because, as I look back, God has truly given me more than I could have ever imagined during these four years. I can say with full confidence that college has shaped me and been some of the best days of my life. I am thankful for each piece of the journey both the joys and the challenges, because in the end, God is the writer of our story, and it is, indeed, perfect even when it is hard for us to see. 

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now? 

As I prepare to leave college, I feel that God is challenging me to be faithful and obedient. I find myself anxious about what’s to come. I fear the uncertain, and right now, my life feels like a bunch of “unknowns.” As graduation gets closer, I am sad about leaving this place that has become my home, and people that I have grown to love. However, God is calling me to be uncomfortable again. With new experiences comes new opportunities to grow. I pray that I not fear what’s to come but trust that God will continue to be faithful, and ultimately that I’ll be obedient wherever He leads me. As newness is on the horizon, God is challenging me to surrender my own plans, and instead walk patiently and faithfully as He leads the way. 

What has tested your faith during your time at NWC? 

As I reflect on my past four years at Northwestern, something that has challenged my walk with God has been finding balance in life. As a student and an athlete, I have struggled to find balance between school, sports, relationships, and my walk with Christ. I have experienced high and low points in my faith journey, and God has challenged and tested me tremendously during my time at NWC. Much of my time in college I have placed my identity in chasing after success. Specifically, I have poured much of my time and energy into running and competition. Although God has gifted me with the opportunity to run, I have experienced the brokenness and emptiness that comes when I let the things of this world consume me. Aside from running, I have placed relationships, selfish desires, school, and so much more ahead of God. When I become wrapped up in my own schedule, own plans, own dreams, I begin to miss out on the beauty that God has in store for my life. I become self-reliant and seek to find happiness in life’s circumstances. But, if there is one thing that I have learned as I near the end of college, it’s that true joy cannot be found in the things of this world, and if we put the gifts above the Giver, in the end, it will lead to destruction. God is faithful, and even when we drift away, He is still waiting with open arms for us to come running back to Him. Life is so much more than achievements, accolades, or what our world defines as success, and God is continually showing me that He, indeed, is enough.

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Describe a time at NWC when God’s presence was obvious to you.

In the fall of my junior year, I started to have strange health problems, things I had never experienced before in my relatively healthy life. I randomly started have blood sugar drops accompanied with dizziness, cold sweats, and disorientation. My energy levels were strangely low; sometimes I would be too weak to do much of anything. The worst of it happened in December, when I ended up in the ER with a blood sugar of 9. The doctors straight up told me that I should have gone into a coma or died. When all of these things started happening to me, the NWC community surrounded me and I felt God’s presence in a way I never had before. I was covered in prayer, people visited me when I was in the hospital, I was shown kindness and patience when I wasn’t feeling like my usual self. Although I’ve gone through multiple tests and have seen many specialists, they still haven’t figured out what is wrong with me. However, I’ve been showered with prayer for healing over the past year and a half, and many of my symptoms have disappeared, praise God. I’ve experienced God’s peace through all of this and I truly believe that I’m through the worst of it. I continue to pray and trust in God for my full healing and am so thankful for the people who have surrounded me and loved me during this tough time in my life.

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC?

It’s so important to have a teachable spirit and be willing to change your mind about things. I grew up in a Christian household and was an active participant in youth group and church throughout high school, so coming to Northwestern I was pretty sure that I had my faith pretty figured out and that I had all the answers to the tough questions…boy, was I wrong! Classes, conversations, conferences, Bible studies, and daily life during my time at NWC have made me question some of my beliefs, and honestly, some of my experiences have totally wrecked me and have made me start over from the ground up. However, because of that, I’ve learned to make my faith my own– knowing why I believe what I believe. So keep your mind open and be willing to learn from people who are different from you- you may be surprised at how much you can change over the course of 4 years!

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now?

I was so sure that right after graduating I’d go off into the big world and find some a great full-time job as a Spanish interpreter at a hospital. However, God has had other plans for me! My job search didn’t go quite as well as I thought it would, so I’ll be staying in Orange City working at my current jobs for the summer. I’m realizing more and more every day that God’s plans are not my plans, and that my timing is not His timing. Now I’m looking forward to building relationships with my friends in Orange City, having time to work on spiritual disciplines. This summer has also presented a perfect time for me to study for my interpreter certification exam and hopefully get certified. I am constantly reminded of

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” I look forward to whatever plans God has for me in the future and will be doing my best to be obedient to His calling.

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What has tested your faith during your time at NWC?
 

The biggest test of my faith at Northwestern has been a tendency towards complacency. Don’t get me wrong, the faith-centered education I have received and the loving Christian environment of NWC has helped me grow in ways that couldn’t have happened anywhere else, but sometimes living out my faith on campus seemed too easy. In a place where it was assumed that I was a Christian, I didn’t have to defend my beliefs. In a time when I didn’t have to pay monthly bills or take care of a family, I began to feel self-sufficient. Those patterns continued to slowly progress to a point where God became something that made me feel warm inside rather than the purpose and reason for my existence. 

Since I also graduated from a Christian high school, this has been a long-time struggle for me, and the best antidote I can offer is to simply just spend more time with the Lord. If we (even partially) grasp the immensity of God’s love for us, that love will drive us to action. Despite my ups and downs, letting the Spirit lead me in a life of radical submission is so much greater than my own controlled life of dullness. 

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now? 

Expanding upon my answer above, God has been challenging me to spend more intentional time with just Him. I heard a sermon once by Francis Chan that pointed out the tendency for American Christians to be content with hearing other people’s experiences with God or attending a church service in order to gain direction rather than spending one-on-one time with God. He used the analogy of Moses (like religious leaders of today) going up the Mount Sinai to speak with God and then coming back down to tell the Israelites (us) what God had said.  

Boy, have I seen this in my life! The crazy thing is that I have the capability of meeting with God himself. I can literally go up the (figurative) mountain and speak with God! So many times I rely on chapel, a friend, or even class to get my “Jesus fill” for the day and I neglect to spend time alone with God. It seems ridiculous that I can talk with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, at any time, and yet I am too busy (or complacent). Now, as a senior, while I’m constantly seeking guidance for the future, fighting fear of the unknown, and doubting that my time at Northwestern made a difference, God is calling me up the mountain. He is always waiting. I just have to take a step. 

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How has your view of God changed or been strengthened since coming to NWC? 
 

For a long time I thought I had to get to a certain spot in my life and faith in order to be an instrument for God to use to build his kingdom. Once I’ve read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. After I have a degree. When I am a better Christian. These thoughts also played into the misconstrued notion that once I knew all the answers, then I would know what God’s will is for my life and suddenly have it all figured out. God doesn’t work like that. There’s this thing called sanctification and it’s a process, a lifelong process in fact.  

God’s will is a funny thing. I recently read a book by Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will. (I highly recommend it.) This book helped me realize I will never suddenly have all of the answers or come to a point in life where I am good enough. God’s will is not a maze. There is no specific path that we should follow. God’s will isn’t about getting divine messages concerning what to major in, what job to take, who to marry, or where to live. God’s will for you and I is to be holy and live lives that bring honor and glory to the Father. God cares about our sanctification—becoming more and more like Christ.  

Don’t fret about your next step in life, whatever it may be. Take initiative and plan in humility, with the understanding and hopefulness that God ultimately controls the future. When it comes down to it, God’s will is both simple and difficult. Simple, because there are no hidden messages to uncover; difficult, because dying to self and living for Christ is much more difficult than choosing a major, moving, accepting a job, or marriage.   

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC? 

Foster good habits. Life is made up of a culmination of habits. Like I mentioned earlier, God is concerned with our sanctification. He wants us to become more like him. Our habits play a crucial role in this transformation. Pray. Read the Bible. Go to church. Have fellowship with other believers. Surround yourself with people who will encourage good habits. Don’t believe the lie that I all too often tell myself, “Once life slows down I will have more time to do X.” Life doesn’t slow down. Develop those godly habits now. Don’t wait.

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By Amber Gilpin 

I’m at that point in life where everyone wants to know what I’m doing after graduation. And you know what? I have no idea. When someone asks that question, all I want to do is curl up with a coloring book in my blanket fort and ignore all other responsibilities.

Even though not knowing my future scares me, one thing keeps coming to mind. It’s a quote I heard while on a pilgrimage through Italy last summer. Our guide called it the Pilgrim’s Motto.

“I am willing to be flexible. I am neither in control nor in a hurry. I journey in faith, hope, and peace knowing God will provide for me. My goal is the journey not the destination, so I joyfully accept today’s sacrifices, challenges, and blessings.”

These words were easy to abide by when I was studying abroad. For 10 days, six of us Raiders woke up, ate breakfast, and hiked until we reached our destination. We had no clue where we were walking or what we would encounter on the journey. But that was part of the adventure! We embraced the blessings: small coffee shops with Italian caffé, gelato, Roman aqueducts, olive groves, and field upon field of wild poppies. But we also had to face the day’s challenges, be it steep trails, blisters, injured knees, ticks, and, in my opinion, escargot (I don’t recommend it!).

Yet in all these things there was a sense of adventure and peace. We had guides with us who knew the country, the language, and the trails. Even when I felt uncomfortable or lost, I knew that with our guide’s help we would eventually arrive.

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Though there were challenges, these were some of the best weeks of my life. I found it easy to get up every morning not knowing what was coming. It was fun even! So why am I now hiding in my blanket fort apprehensive of the future? 

Looking for a job, moving out, and paying off school loans absolutely terrifies me. I’m not ready to face some of life’s new challenges without a guide. 

The amazing thing is, I don’t have to! God walks with and before me, guiding me every step of the way. 

In Italy, I had a guide I could see. It’s harder to trust a God I can’t see, yet I have confidence that he is living and active, guiding and granting wisdom. 

God has been faithful to lead in the past and will continue to do so as I step into the future.   

I may not know where I am going, but I am certain of one thing: I don’t walk alone. Therefore, I can get up every morning finding joy in my journey. I can embrace the day’s challenges, blessings, and sacrifices knowing that God will provide. When the time is right I’ll know the next step. But for now, I’m content trusting in the one who knows the end from the beginning. My Guide will lead me home. 

-Amber Gilpin
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