College: Majoring in Seeking Rest

Control Freak

As I sit here, I am still in shock that we have been in school for almost an entire month.  This is probably due to the fact that the past month has been a blur.  I have gone from one thing to the other without finding time to relax.  How can I relax, however, when it feels like I have a million things to do?  Now, I know that I am not alone when I say that I am exhausted, so if you are anything like me, (your weekend plans consist of doing immense amounts of homework) take a minute and reflect on this.

Before I begin, take a moment a read Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for…

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Women Are Scary (and other lessons modesty culture teaches men)

The Trotter Family

by Jonathan

I am sad.

I live in Southeast Asia, and there’s a “massage parlor” a few blocks down the street. In fact, there are several. “$2.50” is what the sign reads. And then there are the KTVs (“karaoke bars”) with rows of plastic chairs holding property: young women in skimpy cocktail dresses waiting for clients. Several of them within a mile of my house. One’s called Dubai, one’s called Las Vegas, and one’s simply called J. I know the names because they’re on the main streets. They’re not hidden.

I see it everywhere: men trampling women.

And then I get on my computer and read about Ashley Madison and Josh Duggar, and my worlds collide. I grew up under the same teachings as Josh. Same home school group. Same emphasis on modesty and purity and playing the violin.

But my parents weren’t “all in.” I was much more into…

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I will choose.

I will choose to not have fear.

“Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46:2)

I will choose to combat with prayer into the depths of the darkness of the night sky above me.

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.” (Psalm 46:5)

I will choose to sing with a joyful heart, though mighty foes surround me.

“You will not fear the terror of the night or the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:5)

I will choose.

Movements in the Shadows.

I find that in anticipating God working in my life I miss His actual movements. My conception of His “working” in my life often consists of being blinded by His light and glory in my life and in waiting for that I miss His movements in the shadows on the darkest night.

Thinking I know how He will work and what He is going to do is molded by my plan in my time and in my way. It is an outward extension of the pride within my heart. Even though I may not voice “I know better than you, God.” Acting as though I know when He is going to move and what He is going to do ultimately puts me at a place that isn’t where I should be: prostrate before Him.

I find myself too often looking back upon my day and being disappointed with not “doing enough” or saying the “right words” and stamping the day with disapproval because God didn’t show up. Or it was a rough day so maybe tomorrow God will provide. Who am I to say He didn’t show up or move in miraculous ways each movement of that day? The One who gives me breath who created each the path for each day…for me to say- there is a better way demonstrates a prideful heart before God. I have built a white picket fence around my life’s ministry. On the contrary, humility is a state of the heart which turns into a way of life.

“You can have no greater sign of confirmed pride than when you think you are humble enough.” – Law, Serious Call, Cap.XVI , The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis

Unconventional Missions

The first thing I learned this summer: sometimes the ‘mission’ God calls us to is the ‘mission’ to restoring our own heart and soul. Sometimes that means days without community we feel we so desperately need. Days of just sitting in the spiritual desert. Days of just praying for the rain to come. Days of just waiting. Days of listening…and he doesn’t speak. Days of deafening silence. Nights of oppressing depression and mornings of being blindsided by the unmovable pillar of anxiety.

After a semester filled with a slew of joys as well as heartache, time for restoration was due. As the final weeks of the semester wrapped up I heard my closest friends begin to talk about their summer missions around the country and globe. My heart couldn’t help but be excited for them and what God was going to do. The confusing part was why I didn’t feel called to missions as well.

For the past several summers God has lead me on one adventure serving His heart for the poor after another. From Guatemala to the inner city of Los Angeles to the heart of Milwaukee for two consecutive summers after that. God used those summers as vital markers along the path of His journey of a purposeful life. This summer seemed to be shaping up to be a little less than “one step up” from the previous summer adventures.

But God continually whispered, “I’m not done with you yet.”

Home became an unexpected oasis of the healing and restoration I so desperately needed. And, as God usually does, it wasn’t conventional.

By the time second semester came to a close I was in knee-deep in a Christian community of whose love I was so overwhelmed by. On so many dark nights where my soul questioned and cried out, His presence was made known through this community. I learned: this is church. This is community. This is life with Christ.

But life with Christ and community isn’t hinged on a location on a map. I learned that quickly as those so near and dear to my heart began to speckle the map of the country from South Carolina, California, Illinois, Minnesota and New Mexico. Where was I? Home. Milwaukee. My heart didn’t feel like it. It throbbed to be in 1,000 places at once. To be embraced and loved and poured into.

To be pursuers of changing the world we have to also be willing to be pursuers of changing ourselves.

Grounds for Wisdom

Although the school books are no longer open and sprawled with scribbled pages on my desk, I look to open another book this summer- that of wisdom. Within the finely print pages of the Old Testament Solomon writes words of wisdom to his readers. He asked God for one thing: Wisdom.

You see, the unique thing about his request is that he could have asked for all the knowledge in the world. But there was something ironically wise about his request. Wisdom is from God. It’s not innately from us. it is no derived from mere human minds, but from a divine being who knows all, created all, and saved all.

So, in the opening of a new chapter of my journey of life, I choose to sit for a bit and gaze upon His faithfulness and His providence in my life and make them grounds for learning and growth- to cultivate the soil where seeds of wisdom can grow out of the Truth. There are many seeds that can be planted. But if the grounds are not Truth, they will reap much different results that are not worth you reading nor me writing. So I choose to plant myself in the presence of my Creator and be watered with the Truth of His Word and be enriched by others around me.

Over the course of these next months I will be sitting down over a cup of coffee with many ordinary people who have been called to walk different paths of life. And it’s there, in the presence of modern day disciples where these seeds will begin to grow. Jesus called extraordinary out of the 12 most ordinary men. And in a similar pursuit, I will look to the disciples of today and excavate God’s grounds for wisdom for Christianity in the 21st century.