Friday, August 9, 2019

Resurrection at the Requiem: A Call to Christian Graduate and Professional Students

It’s a message that has been continually on my heart for the last two years. I’ve explained to some friends that it feels like I’ve unlocked something that few others have. But I so want them to have it. 

It’s not always that fun to be a graduate or professional student. You work full-time hours but pay instead of get paid. A lot of your friends your age have a salary and not homework. You feel weird because you’re in your mid-twenties but still a student. You have increasingly more responsibility but the benefits don’t seem to match. 

But in the annoyances and difficulty my faith has been elevated to a reckless level. I’ve spent the last two years trudging through law school, never knowing what my next year will look like until the current one is almost over. Every year is spent trying to figure out the next.

And when the uncertainty is maximized, faith is maximized. And it’s such a freeing place to be.

As I thought about how I could articulate my life and what I desire in others’ lives, God placed the word “requiem” on my mind. 

I was scarcely familiar with the term, and when I double-checked its meaning I didn’t understand why it was that word, of all words. But I prayed and was instantly given clarity. Here it is: 


(especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead 

My heart is grieved when I look around at the death in the lives of graduate and professional students. I’ve heard people talk about the best places to have mental breakdowns. I’ve seen excessive drinking in an attempt to relieve pressure and insecurity. 

But the hopelessness is widespread. Eternal hope isn’t found apart from Jesus, so we should expect that there will be people who don’t know Him who are struggling with their identity and unable to find peace. But this is something I see in Christians just as much. 

Maybe there isn’t alcohol or drug abuse, but the hopelessness is there. Christian students are falling victim to pessimism. They’re falling victim to insecurity and struggling with their identity. They have fear of the future because it is uncertain. So many are in misery and doubt.

There is so much more for us. Jesus didn’t go to the cross for us to live like that.  

So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. –Galatians 4:31-5:1 

Yes, that’s talking about freedom from sin. But lack of trust in God is sin. He calls us to trust Him. 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. –Joshua 1:9 

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. –Psalm 112:6-8 

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. –Matthew 6:25-34 

And He gives us every reason to trust Him. 

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. –Hebrews 13:8 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. –John 14:26-27 

God sent His Spirit to remind us who we are and whose we are. And I think a lot of Christian students will comfort themselves with these words, but it’s a momentary thing. Then back to worrying. Then it's time to take our eyes off Jesus and look at the storm and the waves.

No. We’ve been set free from that.

Lord I come to tell You I love You. To tell You I need You. To tell You there's no better place for me than in Your arms. To tell you I'm sorry for running in circles, for placing my focus on the waves, not on Your face. You're the only one who brings me peace.

If God never did one thing for us apart from redemption, all His goodness and faithfulness would still be wrapped up in that. But He doesn’t just stop there. He heaps on grace. He gives strength in weakness, and light in darkness, and life from death. Why do we run back to the grave? In our flesh it might seem more comfortable, but it’s not where we belong anymore. We aren’t who we were. We’ve been completely remade. 

I faced this battle for a while. I was coming off what still might be the best year of my life, though the last year has rivaled it. My senior year of college was crazy, and the summer after crazier, but it was so full of growth and joy. I left my home of four years to continue school for another three in a different place. Placed on that was everything else I was bringing in and adjusting to the expectations and workload of a professional program. I felt lost at times. But I’m found in Jesus. In that time I learned to trust Him on a level I’d yet to experience. 

A friend had a vision that nearly brought me to tears not that long ago. Deep in the woods was a cottage, which he said was a place of comfort and refuge, and when he knocked on the door, I answered. I said, “Hello, come in, how can I help you?” He asked, “How do you live out here alone?” I responded, “I’m not alone. The Lord is with me.” 

That same night, God brought me back to a place He’s brought me often. I’m on the edge of a cliff, unable to see what is beneath due to fog. But Jesus is there with me and tells me to jump. The first time I was there I questioned Him. I didn’t know what was below or what was going to happen. But I knew He was leaping with me, and that was enough. The next thing I saw was a person on a foggy street. Only one streetlight could be seen, but when she arrived there another could be seen. She never knew what was at the end of the street, but the path immediately before her was illuminated. 

God guides in short lengths. That’s where faith is the strongest. I’ve learned there is so much freedom in not knowing the future but knowing the God who knows the future. 

We’re talking about the God who raises the dead. The God who predicted events hundreds of years before they occurred. The God who parted waters. The God who sent His Spirit in power to move in the church age. Do you think He can’t handle your crazy life? 

It really is possible to gain such a trust in God that you do not worry about your future career, or your exam grade, or your unexpected expenses. Faith is more than belief. It’s a gift given to every believer that allows us to trust when it looks stupid to others. It’s not blissful ignorance. It’s believing God’s track record and that He’ll do again what He’s done before.

Some of us have attended the requiem of our lives. The requiem of our social lives, the requiem of our free time, the requiem of the control of our futures, the requiem of hope, the requiem of confidence. The only requiem we need to attend is that of our will and our skewed view of ourselves, because that died when we took up our crosses. Jesus has resurrected us, and we’ll never be the same. 

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