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By Christian Korver

When many people hear the name “Korver,” they either think of basketball or church, and for good reason. I have three uncles and two cousins who are pastors, as well as a cousin in the NBA and a dad who coaches in college. I often feel pressure to live up to “the Korver name.” Living into who God created me to be rather than trying to live up to false expectations is an ongoing battle. 

I grew up blessed with a strong Christian family spilling into me and my faith development. Healthy and holy habits were formed at a young age, such as going to church every Sunday, memorizing scripture before bed, and reading some form of devotional as a family every night after dinner. I was equipped with all sorts of knowledge, but it remained in my head for the longest time. Rather than living into the identity that God tailor-made for me, I instead was just trying to live “a good life,” living up to what I believed to be the expectations of others. 

With a cousin in the NBA and a dad who coaches college basketball, I always felt the need to prove my worth on the basketball court. Pressure and jealousy weighed on me as I compare myself to the next guy. Rather than making basketball a game, enjoying it and then putting it away, my identity became associated with performance in the sport. A bad game – or even practice…. I mean come on, I’m talking ‘bout practice 😉 – could send me in a downward spiral for much longer than the duration of the competition. Although I loved the Lord, I was in the midst of an identity crisis.  I knew that identity is to be found in Christ, but that was (and still is) a struggle as I tend to find value in performance and the opinions of others. Not only was I trying to prove myself as a basketball player, but I was trying to prove that I was worth something off the court through my on-court accolades. 

“Identity determines destiny” is a line that my dad often used when I was younger. It was seared into my brain at a young age, but not until recently has it clicked. Many discussions with my dad but also a couple of my uncles really advanced my understanding of identity. God created each of His children in His image, in a unique and beautiful way, and if we search for our identity elsewhere, our world will be shaken. Recently John 8:36 hit me pretty hard, stating “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) While in California this summer, my grandpa challenged me to, thirty times each day, thank God for creating me exactly the way in which He created me.  God does not create mistakes, and each of His children were created in a unique manner for a unique purpose.  Celebrating the gifts that God gave each of us provides freedom to play our part in His salvation story with a joyful and peaceful spirit.  

Although it remains a struggle today, I do recognize that I am not defined by my status as a college student, basketball player, my last name, or being a relative of an NBA player. And so rather than striving for the worldly definition of identity, I am invited to live into the gifts that God has given to me, embracing the unique person He created me to be. 

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By Kaylee Henn

It was the very last night of summer before moving to college freshman
year; I was laying in my bed and even over the sound of my fan I could hear the drone of the cicadas and the chirping of the crickets. As I laid there, my mind started doing that thing minds do when all you want is a little sleep. 

I thought about how, over the past few years, I had battled the paralyzing sensation of trying to achieve perfection in every aspect of life, the sheer terror of starting conversations with new people, and hopelessness of waking up in the morning with no motivation to continue the façade of having it all together. I thought about the many comforts of being in a place I could call home, and the elements of familiarity and consistency which were an essential component in my identity: my family, my church, my house, my close friends. 

And as I tossed and turned, the thought of this being the last night I would ever sleep in my bed before beginning a completely new chapter made my stomach do somersaults. 

“I can’t do this.” 

I walked out into the living room and started sobbing harder than I had in long while. 

“I can’t do this. I can’t go. Don’t make me go. Please. I don’t want to.” 

My mom sat down next to me on the couch and listened as I poured out the waves of bottled up anxiety and fear. 

Suddenly I remembered the simple sentence in 1 John 4:18: “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.” 

The verse echoed in my mind as I sat on the couch, tearfully dreading the move to Northwestern the next day. 

Now fast forward…surprise…I came to school. And I stayed, but not by my strength or ability. Being out of my comfort zone pushed me closer and caused me to rely on God in new ways. But there were still many moments when I felt completely out of control, anxious, and fearful. And it wasn’t the kind of fear you feel when you curl under a blanket during a scary movie, but the paralyzing fear that controls emotion and thought, that comes from placing little pieces of your identity in others and their opinions, and the kind of fear that holds you captive with that tight, constrictive feeling in your core.  

But I came. And I stayed. Was it because of the campus community? The relationships I’ve built? The experiences I’ve had? The education I’ve received? The new comfort I’ve created? 

And the answer to that is no, not entirely. Those things are good, great even. But over the course of the last couple years God has been continually revealing the beauty of his salvation, teaching me about the dangers of sin and the miracle of forgiveness in love. Through time spent alone in scripture and prayer, conversations with dear friends, and advice and encouragement from mentors, I’ve felt God move and grow me closer to himself. But that overwhelming fear which consumes me whenever I am holding too tightly to comfort is not overcome by substituting old comforts for new ones. Rather, it’s the gradual stripping of my solaces and replacing them with a meditation on the vast love of Christ.

I am not defined by my situations: past, present or future. Fear, while real and scary and powerful, is not the identity given to me by Christ and I don’t have to live in it. Through Jesus I can live in LOVE, a love that doesn’t settle for comfortable or normal and steady, but a love that breaks the bonds of fear and sets me free to embrace the unfamiliarity of His beauty and purposes, wherever he calls me to go.

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by Josh Fischer

Personally, there is not a more life-giving experience than seeing growth in myself and others. I always strive to be the best that I can as I believe that God calls each of us to greatness. Although greatness might look a little differently for everyone, there is one part of our call to greatness that we all share: doing good.
 

I spent basically my entire life as Christian and growing up in the church. My dad has been a pastor for as long as I can remember so, I was in church every Sunday. As I continued learning what it means to live a Christian life, I recognized a pattern to it. It seemed that there were simple rules to follow and the goal was to avoid breaking these rules no matter what. I heard things like, “don’t lie, don’t cheat, and don’t steal.” As I got older, the rules began to change in a more serious direction to things like, “don’t do drugs” or “don’t have sex before marriage,” but the guidelines to living as a good Christian all involved the word “don’t.” 

During my time in high school, my life began to feel stagnant. I was not seeing the life-giving personal growth that I desired so much. What was I missing? I had gotten pretty good at not doing those bad things that I was taught, but I learned that I also needed to start doing good things. I had finally realized that there is more to life than avoiding sin. If I want to reach the goal of greatness that God calls me to, I am going to have to stop living my life with a focus on avoiding evil and get a new focus of doing good. 

If Jesus set the perfect example for us with a focus on avoiding sin, he would have simply done the bare minimum while never messing up. Instead, Jesus lived his life to the fullest by having a focus on love and actively seeking others out to teach them how to live lives of greatness. Paul compares living the Christian life to a race, writing in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.” To properly live the way God intended, we need to go all out for God, leaving it all on the playing field. God calls us to do so much good that we do not have time for doing any bad. 

As I now know, the most growth happens when I trust God and play an active role in the Story that God has written. I take a step closer to who God made me to be every time I choose to follow Jesus’ example of living with a focus of love. 

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By Kyle Johnson  

Like many others here on campus I am someone who spends their summers working at a camp. My home for the last 2 summers has been Hidden Acres Christian Center. At Hidden Acres we take campers on Sunday and have up until Friday afternoon to give them the full camp experience. In my 2 years on staff I have gotten the privilege to be the counselor to 101 young men from the ages of 5 to 17. The one constant I have always seen throughout the weeks that I’ve been with them is that you never know when your opportunity will be. 

My first summer on staff I was given the position as Senior Counselor, but the title of Senior Counselor is slightly deceiving. I was still a first-year counselor with limited experience, and during the 5th week of the summer I was paired with another first-year counselor who wasn’t very experienced. Our cabin consisted of eight 4-6th grade boys and to be honest they were not the best behaving bunch in the world. We went through the week doing the normal camp activities like swimming and playing games, but whenever it came to chapel or devotions the kids just wouldn’t pay attention at all. This all came to a peak on Thursday night, when after a camp-wide game of capture the flag one of my campers got upset and ran away into the woods. Later that night the same camper got in a fight and ended up punching one of his cabin mates which put me in damage control mode for the rest of the night. By this point I was super stressed out and tired, and we were scheduled to go back to our cabins for our cabin devotions. Well, perhaps needless to say, my devotions sucked. I wasn’t enthusiastic about it at all and I just wanted to get it over with so that we could all go to bed. 

After we turned out the lights I went to go and shower and when I came back inside my camper, Sam, (who got punched earlier in the night) told me he wanted to talk with me. We ended up going outside and we talked about his home life and he admitted that he was the one that started the fight. After a bit more talking, he began asking questions about the things I said during my devotion that night and I began to calmly explain what I had talked about. Sam told me then that he wanted to live with Christ and on July 6th 2017, on the porch of our cabin, Sam dedicated his life to Christ. Was this because of anything I did? No, this was the work of an amazing and awesome God who uses us even in our weakest points to do glorious works in his world. God gave me an opportunity to fulfill his mission even when I least expected it.

img_8097By Courtney Mithelman

Some of my favorite moments of worship take place by myself in my little red Camry. I love road trips and visiting family and friends, so I find myself listening to a lot of music during those car rides. I love worshipping my Lord in the car and in solitude. During different seasons of my life, certain worship songs resonate with me more than others, and I often find myself in tears and in awe of the goodness of our God. 

This past weekend I was driving back to school and stumbled upon a song that I’ve listened to a lot but hadn’t taken the time to think more about. It’s called “In over My Head” by Jenn Johnson. Based on where I am at in life right now, this song resonated with me in many ways, but one way in particular is where I will end up post-graduation. I will come back to this in a bit. 

As a senior, and with only three months until graduation, stress and worry has been a constant in my life recently. I am incredibly excited but also nervous to leave Northwestern and enter a new season of life. The job search is exhausting and defeating, and if I am honest, this life transition is the most nerve-wracking thing I have experienced. I think that it is important to feel this discomfort and nervousness, but I do not think that it’s something to sit in for a long time. The Word reminds us that God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1) and calls us to trust in Him. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. This verse is powerful. Our God is a God of hope who fills us with joy and peace when we trust in him. 

This has been a lesson I’ve learned lately. In the past year I have really seen how God has instilled true peace and joy into my life. His timing, provision, faithfulness has been ever-present to me this year in almost every aspect of my life—in school, relationships and extra-curriculars. However, the first step in all these things is to fully trust in Him, and this is something I still struggle to do completely. I love planning, knowing where life is heading and having an answer. But this isn’t what fully trusting God looks like. He doesn’t say, “trust me and then you’ll have life figured out”. He calls us to the unknown, where we must fully rely on Him. 

This is where it comes full circle. In the song, “In over My Head”, Jenn Johnson sings: 

“And further and further my heart moves away from the shore Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours 

Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free I’m going under, I’m in over my head And You crash over me, I’m where You want me to be” 

When I put my trust in God, he crashes over me and while I may feel overwhelmed and in over my head at first, I am free. God has me here he wants me—with Him. This is something I must remind myself of daily, especially in this busy season of life. I can make all the plans I want, but ultimately those plans may fall through. Full trust and submission to Him is the best place I can be.