Have you ever played those memory games where you cover over ten objects with a tea towel and then try and remember what was there?
I was always rubbish at those – I like looking ahead, my memory is shocking.
But memory is a great gift – as humans we are able to remember, to think on, and to celebrate what has been. Again and again, in the Old Testament, God commands Moses to establish festivals to celebrate great things he’s done for his people. What does that tell you? (1) God likes a party – he likes a chance for everyone to celebrate, rejoice, praise him, and to share exciting stories (2) What has happened in our past is important not just for that time, but also for the future. God is passionate about making sure that when he does great things with us we remember them, because he knows how bad our memories can be.
For those who are heading off to university, this can seem like a fantastic time to ‘look ahead’, to leave everything behind and take some ‘time off’ from church, from God. I want to challenge you to ask yourself to remember who God is and who God has been when thinking towards the future. What has God done in your life and what does that tell you about who He is? Has he spoken to you? Has he brought you joy or comfort? Has he shown himself to be strong, and mighty, and Godly? Has he provided for you? Putting aside church when you go to university may be an opportunity to look into new things, but it also means putting something aside. It means putting on a shelf the God who wants to use this step to teach you what freedom truly is. It means putting aside a chance to discover what it looks like to find comfort in the Spirit when you’re lonely and fearful. Its putting aside the opportunity to see your friend come to find that freedom and comfort through your words and example when they need Jesus and you have him there to share. Remember who God is and consider what more he might want to do in you – is that something you want to sacrifice?
If faith for you has been a struggle, an onward perseverance with few peers to encourage you and a church which doesn’t know what to do with you then this counts even more. If your youth has been a time of doubt, and of confusion, this is so significant for you. This is your opportunity to discover what it looks like to do church as an independent adult, free of your parents, those friends who mocked your faith, or that boring church service. Here’s your chance to know what its like to be in community with other people who share that same belief, that same hunger for something more in a new context. This could be your time to see the fulfilling of all those things which you felt like this could be.
I’m not lying when I say that I meet second and third years who regret so much wasting a year sacking off God and church. When they find themselves back there (which is rare – most people who stop going when they arrive don’t ever come back), they find freedom, truth, opportunities, and joy. They kick themselves for missing out.
If you’re going to university this year please let me encourage you to consider who God has been to you, celebrate the things he has done, ask him for more, and realise that heading off to university is a chance to dig deeper into that. Push your boundaries of who you think God is, let him teach you just how significant he is. If you don’t make the decision to pursue that now, trust me, its so much harder once you’ve arrived and you’re shattered on a Sunday morning!
Check out 'Find a Church' to find churches near your new uni and get dreaming about what those three years might look like you’re your God!