The office has been bustling for the last few weeks as new students made final preparations to begin their college career at Arizona Christian University! And, with scarcely time to take a breath, the admissions team is preparing to hit the road recruiting next year’s incoming class. While the bustle and the newness of the school year brings much excitement, new beginnings can be a time of stress, confusion and a general sense of loneliness. Working in admissions is a front row seat to the emotions of being a new college student: elation as students who thought college was unaffordable realize a dream, melancholy for students who have left friends and family and moved across the country to start a new life, and every emotion in between.
That’s why as I was preparing to welcome the incoming students, I was struck by the words I read in Richard Foster’s A Year with God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines. The reading for the day was Psalm 16:8-11:
8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. 10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit. 11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Foster explained that the phrase “‘I keep the LORD always before me’ suggests that the psalmist used his imagination to make the presence of the LORD more real and God’s security more tangible.” My challenge to the new students was this: in the midst of stress, confusion, fear, loneliness and any other fill-in-the-blank-emotion, practice the presence of Christ.
As I’ve reflected further on this passage, it seems there are two primary reasons why practicing the presence of Christ is a comfort when emotions are raging. First, the author of Hebrews tells us we have a high priest who can sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15). He sympathizes not only with our weaknesses, but with the full range of human emotions as well. Isaiah even referred to the future Messiah as a “man of sorrows.” Secondly, the great Prophet Jeremiah tells us God has a plan for us. So, even when things are uncertain and your life seems directionless, it’s not so to God.
That last point should be a huge comfort as you begin your college career at ACU: God has a purpose in your being here! It’s no mistake that you are here – this is part of His grand unfolding of the unique story of your life. So I challenge you to accept your role in that plan. Spend time fostering an awareness of the presence of Christ in your life and learn to heed his direction as you begin life at ACU. We’re blessed to have staff, faculty, and programs to help you along the way. ACU is an institution that seeks to equip you to be who Christ is calling you to be.
And while admissions is shifting focus to recruit the next crop of incoming students, that doesn’t mean we’re not here to help. If there is anything the admissions team can do to make your transition more comfortable, let us know!