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By Hannah Lautner


Why do I ignore God? All throughout my life I have been aware that God is up there watching, listening, waiting, and loving on me. Admittedly, it’s often easier for me to acknowledge His presence in the hard times: when my brother was diagnosed with cancer, when I moved for the fifth time, when my best friend found out she had a brain tumor, when I was in a car accident that threatened my life.

But the thing is, the hard times often aren’t constant; they are just seasons. And it’s without question that the hard times put the magnifying glass on God’s presence in our lives. But isn’t God just as actively and powerfully at work in the simple and routine? God miraculously healed my brother from cancer (and that’s amazing), but He also provides ‘little’ miracles in the ordinary and every day. He never stops working. It isn’t like God takes a nap and forgets about life for His children on Earth. He doesn’t take breaks. He extends this crazy type of unconditional love that is difficult to wrap my head around. But how can someone care so much that he literally never stops watching for even a minute, even a second? Lately I have realized that God is so much more prevalent in my everyday life than I dare to acknowledge.

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But how should I respond to such overwhelming love? How do I apply this concept to my life? How can I approach Him even though He knows every little time that I have strayed from Him? How can I open my heart fully to Him when life gets so busy with stuff that distracts me from him? Easy 🙂 (haha, right…), God invites the same amount of intentionality as any earthly relationship in order to prosper. He delights in our effort, love, and time just like anyone else. Oftentimes, if we’re honest, these are the resources of our lives that are the hardest to give up! And guess what?! God knows that! He is perfect and patient because He knows that we are imperfect and will mess up and will forget to give Him even an undivided ten minutes of our day. Regardless of what we – unintentionally or intentionally – do, He is still there. He is always there; patiently blessing us with the small things day by day and working through an immeasurable amount of miniscule ways to invite us to Himself.

So as I look ahead to my last semester here on campus, I pray that I would have the eyes to see just how much Christ is working in me in the daily, miniscule, rhythms of the everyday. And who knows, maybe our whole campus community could join together to look for God in the small things too. We’re never ignored.

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By Dana Van Ostrand


Most athletes know what it’s like to be completely exhausted after a difficult practice, conditioning, or a tough game. However, I wouldn’t know because I play golf. This being said, I do know what it’s like to place my athletics ahead of the ultimacy of following Christ. I know what it’s like to be completely empty after a bad performance because I invested my time, my energy, and even put my identity into my athletic abilities.

I was leading the state tournament my junior year of high school with only six holes to play, leading by three shots. I then proceeded to make four bogies in those last six holes to eventually go into a playoff (golf’s version of overtime) and lose on the second hole. I was absolutely devastated. I’d spent a majority of my time in those last months preparing for that exact day and moment. It had been my goal to win a state championship and I could taste it – not to mention that the championship was on my former home course, in my home city. I attempted to be gracious to the champion and to everyone who was supporting me and my team, but in that moment, I was truly empty. Everything that I had put my heart and effort into was over that year, and I had lost. I choked.

This was a difficult experience for me to deal with. It was through this experience that I learned a few things about my pursuit of excellence in athletics. The first and most important lesson that I learned from this was that all of my achievements, abilities, and accomplishments are only a reflection of the talents that God has given me. God has given me the opportunity to harvest the abilities that He’s endowed me with. Because of Christ, I play for the glory of God and represent Christ in all that I do, including on the golf course. Win or lose, all I can do is continue to play in light of this. As Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for Lord rather than for men.” This means that in every tough practice, every strenuous weight room session, every difficult competition, we must pursue excellence in light of the ability that God has endowed us with.

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Christ calls us to bring every single part of our life to Him as He molds, shapes, and transforms us for His glory. There are a couple things that I do on the golf course that remind me of what is ultimate while I’m competing in golf tournaments. A part of my pre-shot routine is a short prayer that just says, “For God’s glory.” This is a reminder for me that this shot isn’t about my glory, but God’s. The second is that my golf ball is marked with a cross near the Northwestern logo. This is another constant reminder for me on the golf course of the ultimate sacrifice paid by Jesus. Hitting a little white golf ball with a stick into a cup seems a lot less important in light of this. God has called us to be in the world, not of it, and part of this is pursuing excellence in athletics for His glory, not for our own.

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By Fritz Boyle

I think the most embarrassing thing about my freshman year of college was the fact that I struggled with lust. If reading that makes you feel uncomfortable— don’t worry about it because I can 100% guarantee I feel way more uncomfortable about you reading it than you do.

This struck me as the most fundamentally humiliating thing there was to know about me. I had absolutely zero intention of telling anyone about it, well . . . ever. (Which should explain to you why I’m writing about it now on a public forum.)

I ended up going to a local church Women’s Night because my friend Kate Arnold told me they had really good food. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that actually, the point of the women’s night wasn’t just the good food, but so that everyone could sit around eating good food and talk about Jesus and their feelings and everything else going on in their lives. Anyways, there was maybe 35 women there and at some point they had an open mic session where anyone could stand up in front of the whole crew and talk about how God had been working in their lives.

There was about two minutes of intensely awkward silence before Kate Arnold (what a gem) went to the front and shared some things, and sat back down and the rest of us were left sitting there staring at each other.

I can’t really explain to you everything going on in my brain at that moment. I knew that I had to say something, because, really, what sort of Christian would I be if I couldn’t even stand up in front of a group of other believers and talk about how good our God was? But the only thing I could think to talk about was how I was struggling with all of this sin in my life and how I knew that God loved me so incredibly much that he sent his son to die for that sin.

I also knew that under no circumstances would I ever, in a hundred million years, stand up and talk to this group of 35 adult women about how I was struggling with lust; but I serve a God who loves me enough he sent his son to die for me so I could trust that he wasn’t going to just up and leave because I couldn’t get my freaking Christian act together.

So, though I wrestled internally, I got up behind that microphone and shared – except there was a whole lot more blubbering and tears going on.

And I remember sitting back down and having three or four people offer me tissues and just thinking that that was the most humiliating thing I had ever experienced ever and it helped absolutely no one because Dear Lord in Heaven I was crying so hard no one could even understand me.

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I wanted to leave right after the thing ended but Kate wanted to gab with every single person there individually, so I was stuck awkwardly smiling and nodding at the stream of well-meaning-middle-aged women who came up to me afterwards to tell me that everything was going to be alright and so on and so forth. We were finally headed out the door when someone else stopped to talk to me.

“I just wanted to thank you, because your testimony was the only testimony that touched my heart this entire night.” She looked like she was about to cry, which made me feel a little bit better because I was still hardly holding it together. “God has felt so distant from me, and I’ve been wondering what else there is I can possibly do to be close to God again. But you’re right. He’s not just going to up and leave us because we’re struggling.”

God uses everything to further His kingdom, even the most unattractive parts of us. Of course, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t address the sins in our life. Being proactive about the kind of change God is bringing to fruition in our lives is essential to following Jesus. But He uses sinful people, and broken people. That’s just the way it is.

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By Devin Vander Werff

When Jesus died to save me, he not only saved me from sin, but saved me to new life. For me, new life has come in the form of incredible people and opportunities. When I was in high school I went on the same mission trip for three of my four years. In addition to the work we did on this trip I started to build relationships with friends and adults from northwest Iowa. We had a great time serving and it was crazy how fast relationships came together.

During my senior year, it was a very easy decision to choose Northwestern. Many of the adults from my mission trips told me I would be a good fit. Now that I am here on campus I have mentors that I can meet with on a regular basis. These people have been such a blessing to me. Last fall I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life and then found out that I had no idea. These people listened to me and helped guide me in the right direction. In addition to great mentors, God filled my life with great friends. Coming to campus was exciting and a little nerve-racking since I had no friends except one kid that went to my high school. However, the first few weeks I met so many fun, exciting, loving and awesome people. As the year went on, I kept making new friends but grew close with a few. We have done a ton of fun stuff together, but they have also blessed me by helping me out with studying, playing on the basketball team, and other activities. God has given me an incredible amount of opportunities from things as little as getting doughnuts on Friday nights, to dorm events, to getting to go on an SSP and all the other ways to get involved on campus. It seems like I never had to seek out any of these things or people, they just happened by the work of God.

When Jesus died to save me, he not only saved me from sin, but saved me to new life. I don’t know why God has been so good to me, but I do know that it has nothing to do with me. I didn’t do anything to deserve this, it is 100% up to God and His plan. As a result, my only response is to reciprocate. Since God has blessed me, I am to be a blessing. I don’t try to ‘live the right way’ so that I can be blessed. I try to ‘live the right way’ since I have been blessed. Obviously, this is a goal that I am striving to attain. There are relationships that I have screwed up, feelings that I have hurt and situations that I handled poorly. I am clearly not perfect at being a blessing, but with God’s grace I strive to do it every day.

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By Nnenna Nwaelugo


A brief background on my life: I was born in Nigeria, but grew up in Gambia and Ethiopia. My dad is a doctor, mum works for the African Union, I have 4 siblings, and we were raised in a Catholic charismatic household. For as long as I can remember I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life and in the life of others all around me. I believed in miracles and in the power of answered prayers and never for a second doubted that there was a God and he loved me.

I’ve always lived among a diverse group of people, moving within and between countries, and going to private international schools. So, the idea of people who were completely different simply loving each other and living life together was not only plausible, it was a way of life for me. I firmly believed that this was God’s plan for humanity. However, when it was time for me to go to college, I made a decision that would test that faith more than I had ever imagined – I decided to leave home.

Coming here to Iowa, I was exposed to a world totally different from the one I grew up in. I left the safe bubble that my parents and my community had cultivated for me and ventured out into “the real world” for the first time. It was also the first time I realized that Christians were capable of hate.

Before I elaborate, let me make it clear that I would have realized this eventually regardless of where I went, and it may be completely coincidental that it happened here. So, with that said, I begun to have deep conversations with several fellow Christians students who expressed very strong negative views on homosexuals and people from other religions – hatefully negative views. I experienced racism for the first time, also coming from said Christians. I saw people use their faith as a justification to think and openly say rude and degrading things about other groups of people, not always aware that a member of that group was among the crowd they were speaking to.

By the end of my freshman year, after talking to some of the targets of such remarks, I was ashamed to be called a Christian. We were the ones claiming to serve a God that IS love, a God that embodies love in everything he says and does, yet we are not able to see that our distaste, discomfort, whatever word you please, of people who were different from us was NOT love.

There is a silver lining to this seemingly drab story. I feel like I’ve grown 5 years older in the two years I’ve been in college. I was forced to look inside myself and confront those same tendencies I was ashamed of seeing in other people. When I went home this summer, it was clear to everyone I used to know that something had changed. I believe that this was God’s wake-up call for me, that just because I thought and said I was a believing Christian didn’t mean I was actively following Christ.