feb3-07By Emma Van Meeteren

“Trust the process.
” My fellow cross country teammates know these words well. Coach Carrie Krohn, who learned this from her NWC coach Dale Thompson, uses this phrase often to remind us to trust our training progression. In running, achieving one’s optimal race performance is not something that happens overnight. It requires a training progression strategically planned to prepare our bodies to peak at the right time. Often, it is difficult to be patient, and the desire for quick results causes one to want to work too hard, too fast. If there is one thing I have learned as a collegiate athlete, it is that I have been able to become a much better runner than I ever could have on my own by trusting my coaches and having the patience to see out the full results of my training.  

Now you may be wondering, what does my training progression have to do with my faith? Over Christmas break, I had a lot of time to think. And being the nostalgic senior that I am, I couldn’t help but reflect on the changes I have experienced during these past four years at Northwestern. The person I am now with one semester left of college is completely different than the person I was one semester in. The change from my freshman self to senior self was definitely not something that happened overnight. Instead, much like trusting my coaches to train me to run well, my college experience has been a time of continuously seeking the Lord and trusting His timing and process of transformation in my life.  

Freshman year Emma is someone I don’t really like to think about often. She was overly stressed, extremely anxious, and absolutely terrified at the thought of having to decide what she wanted to do with her life at the age of 18. Classes were hard, her life was unbalanced, and she had no idea what her parents were talking about when they said, “College was the best four years of our lives!” She knew the Lord and trusted Him with her life, but had a hard time understanding why she felt so lonely and distant from her loving Savior.  

Fast-forward three years, and here I am counting down the days until I can return to school after Christmas, excited to get back to a life and people that I love. I now 100% agree with my parents that my college years have been the best years yet. Looking back, instead of being completely astonished at this attitude 360, I can confidently attest to the powerful work of the Lord in my life. Philippians 1:6 reminds me of the confidence I may have knowing “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God never leaves or abandons me, but instead promises that He will carry out what He started. I must learn to simply trust in His process.  

However, trusting the Lord’s process does not mean passively stepping aside. The familiar words of Proverbs 3:5-6 say “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” In these verses, I am reminded that putting my trust in the Lord involves submitting myself to Him. I must seek Him, acknowledge Him, and follow His leading in order to partner with Him in His process. The changes I have experienced during my time at Northwestern would not have been possible without me learning to submit to the Lord and follow His leading to try new activities, participate in His global mission, take on leadership positions, and seek out life-giving relationships.  

Despite all the times I have felt stuck, frustrated, and wanted to be anywhere else but at college, I am now beginning to see the fruit of the good works God has promised to fulfill in me. Whether I am worried about making the grades, finding the right career path, gaining solid friendships, or whatever it may be, I must simply hang in there and trust the process. I have learned that if I submit my entire being to seeking Him, He will transform me into something that is absolutely worth waiting for.

120319-07By Lauren Johnson

Flashback to last fall
, when I was mildly irritated with God. I was beginning my sophomore year at Northwestern, and I, quite frankly, was freaking out. My music major was not fulfilling me the way I thought it should, and I was beginning to consider teaching music as a career, something I swore I would never do when I began my journey here. Why was I freaking out? This was not in “the plan”. I did not color code this in my planner. I did not envision this in the timeline of my life. I was thinking, why me? Why do I not just know my calling to a career like everyone else seems to?  

I discussed with professors why they thought I should consider teaching and asked them questions. I asked friends how they just knew what they wanted. I talked to family members, and even made a mental pro and con list. And man, did I pray. I prayed and prayed and prayed. To be honest, this became my most repetitive and sought after prayer. I just wanted an answer!! I wanted a big sign, a huge divine something that told me yes or no. Could I not just have a big moment where the music swells, the conflict is solved, and I live happily ever after? Yet, I seemed to receive no answer. Weeks went by, and I still felt nothing and did not come to a decision. I began to be annoyed at God. I wanted to plan my life out. But here’s the thing: I wanted it to be my plan, and not God’s plan.  

One day when I was feeling particularly frustrated at God, I opened my bible and turned to Habakkuk to focus on a new book, and was amazed at what I found. In Habakkuk 1, Habukkuk complains (that’s literally the title of the chapter) and the Lord answers. The whole chapter is astounding, but these verses stuck out to me: “Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habakkuk 1:5).  

Wow. I felt amazed and a little reprimanded by God. To me, this was a direct answer from him, and he was telling me that even if he gave me an answer, I would not believe him because his plans are so amazing for me. In the words of Michael Scott, boom. Roasted. Except he did not “roast” me. He boom loved me. And he still does. He made me realize that my journey is not just about me. It’s about him too, and he should be at the center of my journey. 

A good friend once told me that it does not matter what you do, as long as you are doing it for God. Wow, that is convicting, yet so true. Through this experience, I realized that I do not need music to swell and a gigantic sign to blink an answer. I am going to be a music teacher because that’s how I feel I am best going to serve God. There are some days I feel that this career was definitely not my choice. Then I am reminded that it was not my choice, it was God’s. How cool is that?

111919-07

By Abigail Moody  

I’m sure every one of us has been around a three-year-old at one point or another who is going through the “Why?” phase. “Why?” is their response to every question, statement, and well, basically anything that comes out of your mouth. 

Sometimes, I find myself feeling like the three-year-old, while God is the ever-patient parent. 

I’m a planner. I have all of these ideas in mind of how my life is going to go. More general than specific, but still. 

Then God throws a curveball. And in the moment, I don’t understand why. I find myself asking that oh-too-familiar question. “Why?” “Why can’t it be the way I want?” 

At the beginning of last year, I experienced one of the hardest seasons of my life in the form of a broken relationship. But it reminded me that God is in charge of my life. Not me. He knew how my life was going to turn out long before I was even a thought. This relationship was eventually mended, but it took time, and realizing that God was in control. He had a plan, and He was with me through every painful and confusing step. God isn’t asking for my instructions and my plans. He’s asking for my cooperation. 

The journey of life is going to happen no matter what. The clock keeps moving, the months go by and the seasons change whether we like it or not. This year God has shown me that life keeps going, and I can either trail along, grumbling, complaining, and wishing I was somewhere else; or I can dance through life being present, and looking for the joy in the everyday moments. All while holding the hand of my Heavenly Father, because He is walking through it with me every step of the way. 

Sometimes my life isn’t going to look the way I expected. And that’s okay. It’s like putting a puzzle together. If you are holding one puzzle piece, there is no way you can get an idea of what the finished picture will look like. But eventually, it fits with another piece, and another. There is a master plan. It’s on the puzzle box. But only God has the puzzle box.  

Sometimes God gives me glimpses of the finished product, showing me hard and confusing pieces of my life that fit together into something beautiful and it all makes sense. Other things won’t make sense until I’m looking at it through the lens of eternity. And that’s okay. God doesn’t promise that everything is going to make sense. He promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that all things work together for good for those who love Him. 

A verse that started showing up prominently in my life earlier this year is Ephesians 3:20. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It hadn’t ever stood out to me before, but I read it in a book, and then it started appearing everywhere around me. It’s the verse I cling to when I don’t understand God’s plans, when I want to ask why. 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…” – Ephesians 3:20-21a 

So next time you feel like a three-year old holding single puzzle piece, remember that God is able to do immeasurably more than you can imagine. And it’s all for His glory. 

 

111219-08By Amy Tuttle 

When I was little, and I couldn’t sleep, I would often find myself chatting with God. Sometimes it went like this: 

Hey, GodI know you know that I’m thinking about you. And I know you know I know you know I’m thinking about you. And I know you know I know you know I know… 

It went on and on. Other times I’d ask questions like, 

Jesus, when you were a baby did you think about baby things or did you think about God things? 

Once in a while, I would just lay there, trying (and failing) to wrap my little mind around eternity, and the thought of spending forever (forever!!!)  in heaven. 

I wonder when that child-like wonder of God began to fade from my heart. I think it happened so gradually that I didn’t really notice until I found myself in a pretty dark place, full of anxiety and apathy.  

There were bright moments, too. Moments when God’s beautiful, relentless, and patient grace broke through my hardened heart and ignited a passion for Christ again. Then the enthusiasm would dim as I turned away again, caught up in busyness and worry.  

But God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He didn’t give up on me.  

Earlier this semester I found myself at Trinity for Centerpoint. I had the privilege of worshipping with others who were praising God with heartfelt abandon. The Holy Spirit began stripping away my indifference towards God.  

In the coming weeks, I felt newfound excitement for engaging difficult texts in the Bible. I experienced the indescribable comfort of being completely known, understood, and loved by God. My heart broke in a new way for those who are living without the hope that comes through Christ. I rededicated myself to pursuing the counter-cultural lifestyle that Christians are called to. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do not have this all figured out. Actually, most days I feel pretty confused, and I’m more aware than ever that I have a lot to learn. I’m realizing that my sinful heart is even more twisted than I ever imagined. 

At the same time, though, I’m so in awe of our perfect God. God is indescribably glorious and wonderful. Psalm 145:5-7  states this far more eloquently than I ever could: 

5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty  
and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 
 6 They tell of the power of your awesome works 
 and I will proclaim your great deeds. 
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness  
and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 

I don’t have a pretty ending to this story yet. But I’ve decided that my difficult experiences don’t have to be resolved before I share them with others. For now, I want to invite others into the messiness and pray for a child-like heart that marvels openly at God’s goodness. 

 

111219-07By April De Haan 

I’ve never been one to jump outside of my comfort zone very quickly. I like to stay where things are “safe” and where I don’t have to take much of a risk. I prefer to stay in familiar places, be with people I know well, and eat food that I know I like. This summer I realized that my spiritual life and relationship with Christ were also stuck in the safety of my comfort zone.  

Up until this point, my life goal was to become a music teacher, teach somewhere in the Midwest (which is my home), and hopefully start a family. Not that any of these things are bad, but where was Christ in it? I started to ask myself this, and then I read a book titled “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper. The entire book was incredible, but the chapter that stood out to me the most was titled Risk is Right–Better to Lose Your Life than to Waste It. Wow. Even that title was convicting.  

As I read through, I learned that scripture had this message woven into it all over the place. Think about the story of the spies going into Canaan from Numbers 13-14. Twelve spies went into the land and ten of them came back saying, “It’s too risky,” even when God had clearly called them to go into that land. Piper describes that the result of these ten spies’ decision was hundreds of wasted lives. I’ve always read this story and thought that they were crazy to not follow God’s will and trust him in the risk, but how many times have I said that to God?  

How could God possibly be asking me to do this with my career or start a conversation with that person or change my major to that? It’s much too risky. But that is the opposite of what God calls us to do. His will for our lives is surely going to include risk, because taking risks is how we make much of his name, and shouldn’t that be our goal as Christians? That being said, taking risks is still terrifying.  

Something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is potentially teaching in a big city outside the Midwest instead of teaching near home when I graduate college. Would that be a risk? Absolutely. I would be far away from home and family, with people and places and situations I’m very unfamiliar with…but if going to a big city is what God is wanting me to do in order to make His name known, then taking that risk would be right. And while God does not promise success or safety or comfort when we take risks, he does promise that his love will triumph in the end.

Piper states that “on the far side of every risk—even if it results in death—the love of God triumphs. This is the faith that frees us to risk for the cause of God. It is not heroism, or lust for adventure, or courageous self-reliance, or efforts to earn God’s favor. It is childlike faith in the triumph of God’s love—that on the other side of all our risks, for the sake of righteousness, God will still be holding us. We will be eternally satisfied in him. Nothing will have been wasted.”