University: For Such A Time As This
Today we're thinking about how we can remember God’s bigger picture and our role in it. The post focuses on the challenges of starting university in particular, and I do understand that not everybody will relate to this directly. However, I hope the ideas explored can be applied to your own position, whether at school, work or at home. Praying that anyone considering God’s plans for their life is encouraged and inspired!
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?
I love these words from Mordecai to Esther: an amazing reminder that God intends to use each of us to build His kingdom.
Esther was placed in her position at a certain time for a special purpose. She was called upon to use her position as Queen to save the lives of her people - a risky and daunting task in context but one that brought great honour due to God’s sovereign timing.
It’s incredible to have this same sovereignty in our own lives and to be part of the same big picture. So how should we approach our time at university, knowing that God has a purpose for us during this chapter of life?
We should work to glorify God with every endeavour.
If we are called to be at university for such a time as this, then we should consider our approach to academic studies.
Remember that God has blessed you with your mind. It is right that we should work hard, to bring glory to Him and not because we want to make ourselves look super bright and talented. It’s not glorifying to God if we become obsessed with work and invest unhealthy amounts of time and energy to it. It’s about how we can be the best witness to others: working diligently while remembering that our academic prowess doesn’t define us. We are defined instead as daughters of the King – this is incredibly liberating!
So work hard and aim high!
God needs girls in his Kingdom who are academically gifted and intellectually sharp, and it’s for a time like this that you have been placed where you are. Dream of being a leader, of being able to tackle injustices in the world and inequalities in the workplace. Aim to be influential in politics or in business, to become a teacher or a Doctor or to complete a PhD – always remembering our lives are small pieces of God’s big and glorious picture.
Honour God with your social life.
Don’t think that as a Christian at university you have to completely envelope yourself in a bubble of CU friends, prayer meetings and church services. These are all great things (church should definitely be a priority) but it’s also great to go out, to make friends that love to party and to have fun. Jesus did life with people! He lived, loved, talked, cried, ate and drank with the people he was surrounded by.
This is a model that we can try and follow: being in the world, but not of it.
Living to glorify God in every situation, being careful to protect our hearts against temptations that might come up. This means rejecting drinking culture and remaining in control of yourself, even when all your friends aren’t. It means speaking words of blessing to counter gossip and insult. It means living out your faith in a way that is bold, radical and real! This is a big challenge and a hugely powerful witness! Perhaps you are at university for such a time as this, to live as an intentional and influential witness in the face of temptations.
I know that for me, much of my mental preparation before starting university focused on my own desires rather than God’s bigger picture: How would I make sure I made the right friends? Would I get into the best societies? Would people find me fun? Clever? Interesting?
I was completely forgetting that God was intending to put people in my path to bring him glory. I have been blessed with wonderful friends – but actually I am so much more grateful to God for the lessons he has taught me over this year about how to start loving people in a way that reflects his love for us.
Instead of worrying about how we can be accepted at university, we can consider how best can we show the love of God to those that really need it. Jesus came to save the lost, not to be best friends with the popular.
Seek out the international student on your corridor who has arrived in the UK for their first time. Respect and value your cleaners just as much as your lecturers. Consider how you can give to the community around you and invest in those who are on the margins of society, just like Jesus did. Think how precious your time and energy can be when devoted to loving people for the glory of God.
Who will God put in your path for such a time as this?
Be prepared for God to work at your heart over the next few years as you enter this new chapter of your life.
Be comforted and humbled with the knowledge that He has placed you where you are for such a time as this, to be used and transformed from the inside out.
Think how amazing it would be this time next year if we could hear back from all the girls starting university in a few weeks and find out the ways that God has been transforming hearts and building His kingdom across the UK and across the world. Be part of the bigger picture!
To finish, here are some words from a talk by John MacArthur on the life of Esther and God’s divine plans for our own lives. They are beautiful!
“God had a plan and used [Esther] in the midst of those circumstances, just like He would like to use you in the midst of your circumstances. And the message for you is this. While you’re going through life and trying to make sure you fix all the little pieces of your life, understand this: that there is over and in, above and below your life a divine architect ordering every detail. And if you belong to Him and are in the covenant of His love, He is accomplishing His perfect will. And you can rest in that.”