The list for back-to-school must–haves for college students includes Jesus.
Jonathan P. Bilitz
Do you remember the excitement of back-to-school shopping when you were in elementary school? The supply list meant a trip to the store. There were some tough decisions: Do I get the big glue stick or three smaller ones? What is the difference between wide-ruled and college-ruled paper? Even though the list says a 24-pack of crayons is enough, can I get the 128-pack? (There is nothing quite like using a crayon for the first time, is there?) Maybe you recall the sense of accomplishment when you found and checked everything off your list. Then it was time to wait for back-to-school night or the first day when you could fill your desk with all your new supplies.
The college back-to-school list is a bit different, isn’t it? Instead of crayons, you are picking out bedding. Glue sticks are out, but desk lamps, a coffee maker, and dorm décor are in. Instead of filling your desk with your new supplies, you are filling your car to move all your stuff to your dorm or apartment. You may ask yourself, “How I am ever going to fit all this stuff in my car?”
There’s one more thing you shouldn’t forget on your off-to-college list: Staying connected to Jesus. Pack your Bible, find some devotional material, locate the nearest church, or connect with the campus ministry at your college.
Why? Because the Lord knows the challenges ahead of you. He knows your excitement and your fear. He knows how to pick you up when you stumble and lift you up when you are down.
When you feel lonely, God is right there with you: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). When pressures and worries mount, give them to your Lord: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). When sleep escapes you, hear Jesus’ invitation for spiritual rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Find your “go-to” promise in God’s Word and keep it in your heart.
Connecting to God’s promises will bring you comfort and peace. That will only be enhanced by locating and becoming a part of a community of believers. Maybe a local church will fill that bucket for you. Introduce yourself as a college student. Ask about any activities they might have to get you involved. Other Christians, as a family away from home, can provide encouragement—and sometimes food!
Another great option is a WELS campus ministry. Becoming active in the local campus ministry provides an opportunity to network with other students. Encouragement and strength come when you recognize you are not alone in your faith. Lifelong friendships often form through college groups. Most of all, you have the opportunity to grow in faith as you connect with God’s Word. We know that “faith comes from hearing the message” (Romans 10:17).
If you haven’t finished your off-to-college shopping—or even if you have—it’s not too late to put one last thing on the list: prepare to cultivate your faith in Jesus. Connect with him personally and consider getting plugged in with others who will encourage you and whom you can encourage on your walk with Jesus. That’s much more important than bath towels or a shower caddy.
Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.
WELS conducts more than 550 campus ministries across the United States and Canada. Find the campus ministry in your area plus register with the national WELS Campus Ministry Committee at wels.net/campus-ministry.
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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 105, Number 9
Issue: September 2018
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