It’s about 75 degrees right now and I’m getting to sit on my back porch and reflect on some memories made over spring break. It’s funny how God uses my breaks and uses them as the groundwork to teach me something new about Himself. It’s like He takes my breaks and gives them “themes.” This spring break’s theme was gratuity. He’s changing my “have to’s” into “get to’s” and my worries into thanksgiving. And He’s using NGU to do it.
If you’re reading this blog and you don’t go to NGU, I’m sorry. You really are missing out. NGU was never apart of the plan for me, but God divinely led me there just a week before classes started. And this college is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. NGU fits this verse well: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” -James 1:17.
I totally have those days where all I want to do is grab some food from the caf and go back to my room and read. I totally have those days where I really don’t want to talk to people. But get this: those days have actually been some of my favorite days at NGU because God used the canvas of my weakness and painted His strength on it (2 Corinthians 12:9).
But something else is also beginning to not only transform my time at NGU, but my whole life. It’s called thanksgiving. Giving thanks in this joyful thing, giving thanks in this suffering, giving thanks in this certainty, giving thanks in this promise, giving thanks in this stress, giving thanks in this injustice, giving thanks in this sorrow, this plenty, this want, this wandering, this waiting… I want thanksgiving to be the new way I breathe. And I’ve noticed this: there is always, always, always a reason to be thankful because God is always, always, always present. And in His Presence, we see. We see His glory is full of His grace. We see “from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). We see peace. We see the Prince of Peace. Could it be that no one receives the peace of God without giving thanks to God? Could it be that thankfulness is what activates peace?
So how do you see Grace, Glory, Peace… ultimately, the Prince of these things, Jesus, first thing on a Monday morning at NGU at 8 am? How do you wake up and not feel so depraved? Here’s what I’m learning: a lack of doxology leads to depravity. So you thank the morning away. You thank the afternoon away. You thank the night away. You never stop giving thanks. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise- the fruit of lips that openly profess His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
At NGU, or wherever you’re at, there is so much to be thankful for. Even in 8 AM classes. Even in 12 AM homework stress. Even in little sleep. Even in cafeteria food. So I have a prompt for us all. What if, everyday, we start counting blessings instead of counting stresses? Because we can control our focus. We choose what we want to see. If we count our stresses, we will live an anxious life. If we count our blessings, we will live a life fueled by the Holy Spirit. Because when we thank God, we see God. “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (Genesis 21:19). Thanking God fuels loving God. Loving God fuels serving God. Serving God fuels being the hands and feet of God. Thanksgiving could change the world, starting here at NGU.
So make your list of thanks wherever you’re at. At NGU, lets count our blessings. Here’s some of the things at NGU the Lord has put on my heart to continually give thanks for:
- Chapel Services on Monday’s and Wednesdays: I don’t have to go, I GET to go! I get to hear the Word of God powerfully proclaimed at my school on a regular basis… what a privilege!
- The professors: they pray at the beginning of class, and Jesus seems to remain the center no matter the subject- Western Civilization, Old Testament, New Testament, Spanish, etc.
- The cafeteria ladies! Seriously will make your entire day just talking to one of them.
- The prayer chapel: you can go in there anytime you want just to talk to God. Probably my favorite thing at NGU.
- The people of NGU: I’ve made some of the greatest friends in the world that I can totally see myself doing life with forever. God has seriously put some awesome people in my life.
- The opportunities at NGU: from BSU, BSU Impact Teams, Tikvah, small groups, serving opportunities, foreign missions opportunities… there are so many things the Lord has given us here to use as tools to advance His Kingdom!
- The cafeteria food: I don’t care what you say, the food is good. Especially the sweet potatoes. If you don’t see me with a sweet potato in the caf, it’s probably not me.
- The leaders of NGU: usually when you see a good leader, you think, “I wanna be more like them.” Not the case here. When I see the leaders at my college, I think, “I wanna be more like Jesus.” Because when I come in contact with them, they don’t show me themselves. They show me Jesus.
- THE MOUNTAINS. Man. I get to walk to class with them in view. SO beautiful.
So here are just a couple of things the Lord has opened up my eyes too. Make your list. And then watch how the Lord uses thanksgiving to transform our school for His glory. And on those days where thanksgiving doesn’t come as easily (I totally have those days), remember. Remember God’s past faithfulness to fuel your present trust in Him. Go back to the list of blessings you made yesterday. Re-memeber them. Re-count them And you will soon find yourself re-praising Him. Let’s inhale His grace. Let’s exhale His praise. Let’s breathe thanksgiving here & now.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness… and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.” -Colossians 2: 6-7, 10