Knowing: A Year at Fox

I have completed my first year of college. Pretty freaky, huh? In fact it's absolutely bizarre. I'm so old! I'm wigging.

How was it you may ask? Allow me to be distracted for a moment, as it seems it's the only way I can actually get any writing done at the moment.

I've realized something: I'm not a good writer. Leastways, it doesn't feel like I'm any good. Sure, I can write the crap out of an essay on a non-fiction Christian book, but where does that get me really? Reading Bossypants by Tina Fey has helped me realize I certainly have room for improvement. With delusions of grandeur effectively squashed, and dreams of marrying an already-married women suppressed (for now, watch it Ms. Fey), I will proceed.

Back to school. For those who haven't spoken to me in more than a year, or strangers, or old people I don't know who don't understand how the internet works and can't seem to navigate away from this page (just leave and go read a book, save yourself and your grandchildren the heartache), I have been studying at George Fox University for the last academic year. It's a Quaker school, which it turns out, is a thing. Quakers are real people with only a slightly higher than usual interest in oatmeal and hat buckles. They observe lengthy periods of silence in their church services and like to pretend God doesn't get angry. Is this an over-simplification? Of course it is, but I'm writing this at four in the morning because Tina Fey inspired me with her snark and dry wit. You can't expect theological accuracy from me at this hour!

But I digress. George Fox is an incredibly spiritually nourishing environment. I've met people who will forever shape my walk with the Lord for the better. Indeed, if I ever had any doubts brilliant Christian people exist in this world, I am now satiated. I met several extraordinary people with whom I would love to build close friendships in the next two years, and though I haven't quite been a social butterfly, I've always preferred quality to quantity. I'm not sorry. Maybe I'll make heaps of friends next year, but to be perfectly honest I won't be heart broken either way. The people I met this year are SO BOMB!

The classes I took were, to be frank, legit beyond measure. Studying what you're passionate about is such a life-giving activity I can't even describe it and do it justice. Plus, I got to learn stories from the Bible I simply had never learned before, as a result of my many years NOT in Sunday school (and I'm sure I'm the only young person in America who resents his parents for THAT choice). For those who don't know I'm a youth ministry major (lucrative, I know). I get to hang out with high schoolers for a living! This is only slightly as creepy as it sounds. I just feel a distinct calling in my life to provide spiritual guidance, help and a listening ear to young people struggling through what can only accurately be described in hellish terms: high school. And I am not in the business of ignoring God's calling. People have been swallowed by whales for less.

On that note, in case you view my previous joke as irreverent toward God or the Scriptures, I assure you this is not my intention. I just firmly believe God has a sense of humor. This is theologically important to me. In the words of the delightfully witty character Olive Penderghast from the film Easy A, portrayed by the even more delightful Emma Stone, "I have [19] years worth of anecdotal proof He does." I replaced the 17 from the movie quote with my own age, 19, though I do not think that's how a sic works.

Surrender is major lesson I've struggled through over and over again this year. I'm learning there's nothing in my life so vital I can't give it up to God. This picture is very helpful for me: hold everything in your life with open hands. If you clutch your fists tight onto things that are bad for you, or even good things, you are closed off to the many gifts and blessings God wants to pour into your life. I say "you" and "your" but I really mean "me," "my" and "I" because I am the absolute worst at this. I cling so desperately to, well, just utter nonsense and miss all the beauty God is trying to offer me. Every relationship, every thought, every plan, we must surrender to our Lord's divine sovereignty. He will not leave us hanging. He will not leave us empty-handed. He will not fail us.

Well it's almost five o'clock now and I'm sick so I need some sleep. In fact Mom told me to get lots of sleep but I'm house sitting so she doesn't even know! And I would bet the house she could never get online to find this blog. On second thought, no. In the words of the great mathematician Dave Schmidt, "Never bet the house!" In any case, I want to wrap this mother up with the biggest lesson I've learned this year at Fox.

I know God is real. This may rub some people the wrong way. I've no doubt most would be more comfortable if I spoke in terms of belief. I "believe" in God. This sort of language is non-confrontational. It leaves room for other people to "believe" differently. Now don't get me wrong, I still totally respect other people's opinions and how they may disagree with my beliefs. Ask any atheist I've ever met! I get along great with atheists. To be honest I probably get along better with them than I do with most Christians. The thing is, though, this belief language kept me from ever asking myself whether or not I actually knew God was real. I was satisfied not knowing the answer to that yet.

I could no longer settle for just "believing" in God this year though. My philosophy professor took any such option away from me. First a quick side note on this professor. He is a feminist and I suspect a Democrat. He would probably rub some of my more conservative friends here in Springfield the wrong way. In spite of all this, or perhaps because of it, he helped me grow tremendously by challenging me in this way. So here goes. He asked the class, "Do you guys know there is a God?" The question slapped me in the face like an electric fish. Do NOT ask me what I mean by this. It's very late but I typed it because it made me chuckle when it passed through my noggin. So I could no longer ignore the question. Did I know God existed? Could I commit to such a level of certainty? These thoughts were disconcerting to say the least.

He posed the question at the beginning of Spring term, a few months back. Throughout the course of those months I began to have some thoughts that scared me as much as they inspired me: I did. I did know God was real. But not for any abstract, mathematical, formulaic reason. And people who say the only certainty we can have is based on empirical, measurable data are full of it. I know God because I KNOW God. On a personal level. I realize people say they know God personally a lot, and it never seems to count for much, but I've lived with Him for the past six years of my life. This is what I mean when I say I know Him. It would be no less shocking to find out after living with a roommate for six years that he didn't exist than if I were to find out God does not exist. Sure, I don't know his hair color or eye color or height, but I know things that matter a great deal more than those other measurable factors. I know the sound of His voice. I know His personality. I know some of what He likes and dislikes. Like I said before, I know His sense of humor, and this is a big one for me. I don't know I could worship a God who doesn't laugh. Those are the sort of things you know about someone when you say you really know them. I could tell you Justin Bieber's height and hair/eye colors but I would never say I know him. I'd say I know of him, but that's not the same. I KNOW God, and I know He exists because I know Him. If He doesn't exist I'd be very interested to find out who I've been living with for the last six years. If He doesn't exist I am legitimately crazy. Lock me up, I beg of you, before I do more harm!

Oh, and this is a bold claim too, but from what I know about God, I think it follows pretty clearly. Anyone could know God like I do. I am not special in this respect at all. I am just a nineteen year old chubby kid who went looking around for a reason to live and stumbled upon a truth (the truth) bigger than I could ever comprehend or realize.

I hope this makes even a semblance of some sense. Again, I don't mean it to be confrontational. I still respect differing opinions and beliefs just as much as I ever have, and I would absolutely love a chance to talk more about this stuff, the weird, gritty philosophical and theological stuff, with anyone at any time at all... ever. And I'm home for the summer! This in and of itself is a little gift from God. I loved school but I missed my friends here more than I can verbalize. I love you guys! Please let's hang out please please pretty please! I've been at a loss since I've been home because everyone else is still in school! Please take pity on me and give me a call! Anywho, this is my some odd number blog post. If you've read even one of these posts this year, thank you. I truly appreciate it, and it appears you care about me more than my own best friend (curse you Tony Scarcello!) The funny thing is, if he reads this, he'll mention it to me, but I have my doubts he'll read it, so it is a minimal risk move on my part. I could even call him a doodoo head! In fact, I might. Tony Scarcello, you are a raging doodoo head!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. - Proverbs 17:22

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." - Psalm 126:2

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. - Job 8:21


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