Processed with VSCO with b5 presetHow do you want to experience God in the last half of this semester? 

For me, this last semester has been a great opportunity to grow closer with some of my friends on campus as well as my fiancé, Anna. I am hoping God continues to strengthen these relationships and teaches me to love those around me like Christ did. 

I am also hoping to continue to see his faithfulness and direction in Anna’s life and my own. We know we’re going to be moving to the Minneapolis area after we get married, but we still don’t have everything figured out. God has been good to us in the past and I trust that He will continue to lead us, I’m looking forward to seeing what He has in store for us. 

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

I would tell underclassmen to not be afraid to embrace situations where your faith is challenged. I have had opportunities to get to know a number of people on campus who do not hold the same beliefs as me and it has helped me better understand my own beliefs. 

Additionally, I would advise taking full advantage of opportunities to learn more about the Christian faith. In my Christian Story II class, we were given an assignment to write a paper about an issue that is debated among various Christian denominations. After completing that assignment I can now better articulate my views and I also have a better understanding of what other Christians might believe about the topic. 

In what ways is God challenging you to grow more? 

One way God has been challenging me is to be more intentional about caring for the poor. For my senior seminar class, we read a book called The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Claiborne’s main message is that Christians need to abandon the trap of the American dream and be more intentional about following Christ’s call to care for the less fortunate. It has been important for me to realize that God does not just call us to avoid sin, he calls us to action. 

 

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetI came to Northwestern wary of Christianity. Although I grew up in a Christian family and was saved at a young age, I came in as a freshman with a lot of skepticism and even cynicism about organized religion. I had seen and experienced spiritual abuse and hypocrisy in the church, so I was very unsure of what my commitment to the church would be during college. 

However, God has used those experiences and my skepticism in transformative ways and shown me what authentic Jesus-followers look like through my theatre professors and peers. This year in particular, the fall retreat, the middle school retreat, and my SSP to Compton had incredible impacts on me and how I view God. I understand better than ever that God does not expect perfection but desires authenticity. As the song “Pieces” by Bethel goes, “You don’t give Your heart in pieces/You don’t hide Yourself to tease us/Uncontrolled, uncontained/Your love is a fire, burning bright for me” God’s love is all-consuming, unconditional, and redemptive. 

It has been this redemptive, powerful love of God that became the resounding theme from my time here at NWC. Mistakes, pain, loss, hurt, are all transformed by God’s redemption. I used to believe that redemption was the one-time event that happened with Christ on the cross, but I’ve learned that redemption is an ongoing force in the world, wherein God restores and transforms his people for the building of his Kingdom. 

One person who really showcased the authenticity of God’s redemptive love in the past few years is Julie Vermeer Elliot. She is my all-time hero and has been a huge source of support for me. She’s walked alongside some of my toughest journeys without ever judging me or shaming me but rather cheering me on to restoration, health, and community. She’s set such an example for being a Godly and female leader and I so appreciate her contributions to my journey and to our community at large. 

After graduation, I’ll be making the terrifying transition to adulting in Orlando, FL. There’s so much uncertainty surrounding post-grad life, but God keeps gently reminding me that He has provided my every need during college and He’ll only continue to provide for my needs and surround me with a community of support and love. It’s not easy to trust Him in new and unknown territory, but I’m so much better for it when I surrender to Him. 

As for my remaining days at NWC, I’m looking forward to spending the last few weeks living in the moment and finding the joy and love in every situation. Even though graduation is bittersweet, I want to actively seek “King-sightings” and relish in the joy of our God. It is through His love and strength alone that I made it thus far, and I look forward to seeing how He continues to transform my life. 

Processed with VSCO with b1 presetDescribe a turning point in your spiritual journey while here at NWC. 

It was my freshman year and we had just finished singing the doxology at P&W. My RA gathered my wing together to share prayer requests and pray. When it came to prayer, I tended to be the quiet person who listens, nods and doesn’t make a sound. But as we circled up around the pews, my heart started pounding and my hands shook. I wasn’t nervous because my wing was going to pray, I was anxious because the Lord was convicting me to pray out loudThoughts swirled through my head: “What will they think of me? What if I mumbled over all of my words or repeated myself? What if my mind emptied in the middle of a sentence leading to 5 minutes of silence?  What would people think of me?” With all of these the doubts and questions stirring up in me, the Lord responded to me with an unfathomable gentleness. He reminded me that I waHIS daughter and that I just needed to be still, to enjoy time in HIS presence, and enjoy the prayers of his faithful around me. 

I was to trust God, get over my fears, and let the Spirit lead. My nervousness subsided and when my turn came, words came. My barriers came down and I praised my God and Savior.  I realized that my overthinking led to insecurity and fear that prevented me from praying with others and trusting God on a deeper level. Praying is not about what others hear or think, but about speaking to your creator and coming to God in humility, and letting the Spirit move. It is all about being more attentive to Christ than yourself. 
 

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

Pray, pray, pray! Our God hears and answers prayers – even those prayers that feel too big, too hard, or not worthy. Pray for those impossibly big dreams and crazy ideas or those things that seem way too small. Pray for courage, peace, and strength. Our God cares about everything we say or ask for – those things we pray for every day and the things that we are too scared to pray for. God has the power to heal, to save, to speak through you, and to explicitly answer your questions. He created the Heavens and the Earth and knows us better than we know ourselves, so it is stupid to not go to him in prayer.  Looking back, there were many times when I thought I knew God’s plan and didn’t pray for something. But when I do pray for things I deem unanswerable, God shocks me and answers my prayers better than I could have hoped.  

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By Sam Callahan

Over the last several months, God has continually made me more aware of how many choices I make based solely on what will be most comfortable for me. I choose to sit in the back of the room rather than the front. I choose to buy myself another pair of shoes when I could give that money to those who need it. I choose to sit with my friends at meals, rather than the person desperate for encouragement. I choose to apply to teaching jobs only in thriving, middle-upper class communities, rather than applying where I could make the biggest difference. While comfort is often permissible, it becomes a problem when it interferes with our ability to hear and follow God’s calling. We become so clouded with thoughts of “What will be easiest?” and “What will I enjoy the most?” that we forget to ask ourselves the most important question: “In what way is God calling me to make His name known?” I know God is calling me to make myself uncomfortable upon my graduation in May, and here’s how.
 

The Saturday after returning from my second SSP to Amsterdam, I woke up much earlier than expected. I felt a strange prompting from the Holy Spirit to go to the 24-hour prayer event in Ramaker because God was going to tell me something important. Terrified, I climbed out of bed, texted a few close friends for prayer, and walked over. I started my time by listening to the song “Word of God Speak”, and God definitely took that invitation and ran with it. No matter what song I listened to from there, or what passage I turned to, the word “Go” would not leave my mind. I left, relieved to have some sort of answer, yet frustrated at the generalness of “Go”. Go where? Do what? Is that all you’re giving me God? 

The next morning, Sunday, I read Deuteronomy 12-15, which repeats the line “and you shall go to the place the LORD your God will choose”. A few hours later at church, our pastor closed the service by praying that the Spirit would persistently tug at our hearts and make us uncomfortable during the week. It was at this point I started to become almost upset and angry with God. I thought things like, “God, I’m ready to listen but you’re not being very clear here, so please, would you just hold up your end of the deal and tell me what to do??” How foolish of me. 

With Amsterdam still on my heart, I began planning a hypothetical return trip for some time in the next year. The more I planned, the more real it felt, and the more my heart yearned to go back to the place I love so dearly. And on March 28, I booked my flights for May 13-June 2 in Amsterdam, still not sure if that was what God has next for me. However, my faith was rewarded, and last night, April 4, I had a dream in which I saw the word ‘JERUSALEM’ being covered by the word ‘AMSTERDAM’. This was the clarity I had been waiting for, and it only came once I had taken a step of faith. I cannot wait to find out how God will use me this time around and to explore if He is calling me to something more permanent in my Jerusalem. 

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By Eden Burch

Walking into his room, I steeled myself for the verbal onslaught. Degrading comments and disgusting taunts had been made by the patient all night and my compassion was beginning to wear thin. Entering his room this time around was no different. Met with a barrage of expletives and offensive advances, my preceptor and I worked quietly to care for the patient. Nothing was alleviating his animosity. Bending down to offer him an important medication, we were at eye-level with the patient when he spit in our faces.
 

Leaving the room simmering, I began to pray. Father, I am irritated and tired. I desire to use nursing as a means of ministry–to care for hurting people so that You may be glorified–but there are moments when it’s harder than I imagined. After being berated all night, loving this patient feels like an insurmountable challenge. I’d never step foot in that man’s room again if I could have my way, but that isn’t what You’ve called me to. Please soften my heart and use my weakness as stark contrast to Your perfect power. Amen. 

In that moment, images of Christ’s crucifixion flooded my mind. The death He endured was the most horrific display of evil to ever unfold. Jesus was blindfolded, spat at, struck, and mocked after being brought before the Sanhedrin. Bruised, dehydrated, and weakened, He faced Pontius Pilate the next day. The verdict ruled that Jesus be scourged and crucified. Scourging consisted of Him being stripped of all clothing and whipped with leather thongs until the skin on His back gave way to deep lacerations searing the tissue beneath. Massive blood loss due to the extent of those injuries left Him slumped to the ground and nearly faint. Unable to carry His cross to Golgotha, He stumbled to the top of the hill. Spikes were driven between his radial and ulnar bones, as well as through the arches of His feet. Jesus’ intercostal muscles could not function properly due to the sagging of His body, but utilizing the spikes to pull Himself upward to breathe gouged the flesh on His back and shot excruciating pain through His median, sural, and plantar nerves. Carbon dioxide built up in His lungs as He endured partial asphyxiation and intense muscle cramps. His compressed heart toiled to pump thick blood until finally giving out from exhaustion. 

Jesus had offered Himself up as ransom for mankind that we might have eternal life and perfect peace someday, only to be ridiculed and mutilated. And in the midst of it all, He’d cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” No greater love has the world ever known. 

Reflecting on the costliness of Christ’s sacrificial love as I walked down the dimly lit hospital hallway, two feelings overwhelmed me: grief and gratitude. Every time I have sinned, I may as well have been part of the crowd that crucified Jesus, and yet He loves me. It seems to me that obedience and worship are the only right responses to such costly love. 

The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Being imitators of God who walk in love isn’t something we accomplish by meager human effort alone. Instead, we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and delivered Himself up for us and we rely on the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weakness (Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:5-6,11-14,26). This changes everything. It impacts how we approach our studies, the way we interact with our family, how we spend time with our friends, the media we choose to consume, the way we handle conflict–and in some cases, it gives us the strength to walk back into a patient’s room with a gentle touch and kind words. 

Father, thank You for Your sacrificial love. Help us never forget the costliness of it. Humble us with trials, large and small, so our faith may grow in perseverance and maturity and so we may be better imitators of You who walk in love. Stretch us, sculpt us, refine us. Don’t leave us unchanged in this lifetime. Protect us from the deceitful allure of earthly ease and keep our eyes fixed on You. Help us to live by faith in Your Son and fill us with Your Spirit so we can rightly respond in obedience and worship to You in every situation You call us to walk through. May becoming more like You–for the glory of Your Name alone–be our sole focus and delight all the days of our lives. Amen.