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. 

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By Emily Sorensen

“If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look ‘little’ or ‘big’.” –Elisabeth Elliot 

College has taught me that God is a God of the little things. Just in the past two weeks I felt a slight tug at my hamstring during track practice. It slowed me down for five days. Five days to a runner is quite a bit of training. As I drove to work during those five days, I was telling God that “God, I really am not done with my college track career. I wanted to compete well in the last month I have.” And that’s when it hit me. I had not had the attitude of finishing as strong as possible in my track career, I was coasting it out. But when God took the ability away from me, He was proving His point – I need to finish well. God uses hamstrings. 

My sophomore year, college was really hard for me. I couldn’t seem to find my place in the big world of Northwestern. God led me to find and write down every single good thing that happened during the day for a week: no matter how ‘big’ or ‘little’. Whether it was someone smiling at me, my favorite food for lunch, or having fun at track practice. Every good encounter. God showed me that He is enough and is everywhere, and that I don’t need to fit in to be happy. I need to be following Him and to be thankful. God uses the disappointment of college not living up to the hype. 

God led me to serve at a summer camp in Alaska after my freshman year that I found on the Internet. I didn’t know anything about the camp, I didn’t know anyone there, and I had never heard of it until Google. I wouldn’t trade that summer, though. The people I met, creation I saw, and opportunities I had were incredible. God uses the Internet. 

God has used words from a teammate to show me that it doesn’t matter how fast I run a quarter mile, but that it matters how I treat people. God has used professors gracefully extending deadlines to show me that everything really does work out. God has given me joy when the caf workers taking our dishes say “thank you” back to me. God has given me new perspectives because of the words of friends.  

Looking back on these things from my college career, were these God encounters ‘big’ or ‘little’? Maybe the tug in my hamstring was a big thing. Maybe learning to be thankful because of “little things” is really a big thing. Maybe a response from a caf worker is a big thing. We serve a big God who uses everything. “It is we, of course, to whom things look ‘little’ or ‘big’.” 

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

Northwestern was the only college I visited that offered constant, spiritual engagement opportunities. At the end of the day, your personal faith walk is determined by your daily choices to engage with the Lord. While Northwestern certainly checks the box of hosting powerful worship nights and captivating speakers, the difference-maker in my mind is the magnitude of opportunities that fill the gaps during the week. I think the healthiest relationships in life tend to have the most interaction, and the same rule applies for one’s personal faith walk. While experiencing a “spiritual high” is an amazing experience, even better is maintaining that height and compounding growth within it. By having the daily opportunities to spiritually engage with my environment, (RA, RD, prayer groups, praise and worship, chapel, accountability groups, NED talks, team Bible studies, faith-based learning in the classroom, and countless discussions resulting from those) Northwestern allowed me the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with Christ in a constant manner. My advice is to choose to engage. There are opportunities surrounding you on campus, and a simple “yes” can lead you to extremely healthy places, people, and practices. Much like infrequency makes a long-distance relationship hard, a similar structure occurs with the Lord. This is the easiest time in your life to encounter constant, spiritual engagement opportunities, so why not say yes! 

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now? 

Preparing for full-time employment isn’t the easiest transition to take on. Trying to narrow my search to a certain city or field of work is troublesome in the same way picking a major was. The pressure to interpret or discover God’s calling for your life is one I think a lot of college students can probably relate to. I’ve been challenged lately to be at peace in wherever this process leads me. Fears of making the wrong choice or valuing the wrong qualities in a job inevitably cross my mind, but finding rest in His redemptive faithfulness pull me through. I’ve also been challenged to realize not to overvalue my occupation. In a culture so easily driven by money, success, and power, it’s natural to crave those “worldy” attributes. It’s also natural to come out of undergrad and desire the acceptance of my dream position, but more importantly I need to keep my heart and mind focused on things above. I don’t really think pursuing a certain major or career (within reason) will go against God’s will, rather disregarding written and clear instructions definitely does. So whether I end up on a coast, in Iowa, or somewhere abroad, my job does not define my identity. I will never explicitly be told where I should go or work, but I know who I am called to be. By being committed to pursuing God’s redeeming work in the world, the stress of knowing all the answers dissipates. I can confidently follow wherever life may be opening doors and know my identity aligns with the Lord’s will.