A day is like a thousand years and three years is like a day.
The words of 2 Peter 3:8, giving us God’s perspective on time, have always seemed a poetic mystery to me. Yet seeing photos of some of my best friends graduate yesterday I get it. Three years feels like five minutes, and yet at the same time, three years have held so much.
(Well I say ‘I get it’, I obviously don’t, but the sentiment resonates).
University is both a formative and a pacey time of life. Its significance is intensely bottled in three or four short years which will impact the rest of these graduates’ lives.
As I sat with four sixth formers last night, playing with playdough, I realised how poignant this moment was. Their next three or four years are mouldable. They can decide to make them what they want with their choice of friendships, societies, churches, spending and location. At the same time, there is an extent to which they go in blind and will feel their way through this new life as they go, walking with God day to day in their new reality. Awesome.
How do we hold that tension in our lives – a time which is mouldable but also unpredictable? So much of the joy of university is in it’s unpredictability. It is an opportunity to take things as they come – doing things you’ve never done before, no longer bound by your current experience or imagination. At the same time I believe that intentionality is one of the most important things these guys can grasp as they step into their exciting new futures. It is often for the lack of it that Christian students don't connect with churches at university.
Which rhythm are you more comfortable living in? The take-it-as-it-comes plan or the I-have-a-plan plan?
I believe we need to prepare our young people for a life that will hold a bit of both in the coming years. They will need to listen to God’s voice in the every day – looking for opportunities and navigating new, unpredictable realities. At the same time let’s encourage them to be intentional, asking questions like ‘who do I want to be in four years’ time’, and ‘how am I going to make the most of uni life’?
The next three to four years will rush by, but they’ll also be foundational.