The first time I visited the Institute, I openly told Brandon Galford (who I was aware was part of the admissions decision-making process), “I hate school. I hate being in the classroom.” As soon as I said it out loud, I was completely mortified, and the next words out of my mouth were “Please let me come to your school.” Two and a half years later, and here I am, sitting in the same classrooms that I toured, wondering how I ended up in the last place I would’ve expected to be.
After a trip to serve in the Philippines last summer, I came to the Institute with this spark in me. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but I knew that I loved God with everything, that I wanted to know him more, and that I wanted to help the poor. But as a disoriented, secretly emotional first-year student, I felt like I was wandering around my mind with a flashlight, searching for understanding among chaos. I had yet to shine a light on something that would make sense of what I was doing.
In December, I had this really intense moment with the Lord during worship. It was the flashlight moment. I cried out to the Lord in desperation because I didn’t know how to help the poor. Their names, faces and stories had replayed in my mind over and over since my trip abroad. I kept whispering to God, “How do I help them? I don’t know how to help them.” And his response was, “You have to let me help you.”
The Lord solidified so much with so little. My eyes were opened, and I finally understood the weight of what we are learning in our classrooms.
As I was exposed to the characteristics of God, I began to grow in understanding of love and mercy. I am learning to be a resource, and to carry the Word as a source of hope for the people that I want to serve. I am learning to embody the Word in a way that brings it to life, even in moments that feel lifeless.
To my great surprise, I now love being in the classroom more than anything. Coming home to my housemates and discussing the incredible things we are learning in the classroom is the highlight of my day. I can testify that my sight of the Lord is changing with every story and every text we learn.
God is no longer a far off, mysterious entity to me. He has become my resting place. He is near, patiently teaching me. He has prepared and taught teachers so that they can walk ahead of me, showing me the way. Learning the Word, inside and outside of the classroom, is transforming my life. The classroom went from being a place that I dreaded, to a place that brings healing by exposing me to the God who brings life. I am incredibly thankful, to say the least.