On August 24, I will begin my freshman year at Trinity Bible College in North Dakota. That is a deceptively simple statement, because the way I came to be saying that was not so simple.
I love my family, and I love being at home. Even my own brother calls me a “homebody.” I was homeschooled my entire life, and have never, ever been in a classroom or a “regular” school as a student. (And no, I do not believe that I have missed out on any important life experience.) If I ever got sassy or lackadaisical about doing my homework, my parents would threaten to send me to public school, at which I would burst into tears and beg not to be sent to school. (That was the worst punishment I could imagine receiving.)
Being so great a “homebody,” then, the idea of doing college via correspondence was very attractive. I’d heard of a wonderful online program through Liberty University in Virginia. I wouldn’t need to leave my missionary family in Kenya to go to some college in some place in the United States where I had never been. Instead, I could stay home and take care of my baby sister and my Yorkie, spending my free hours cooking and caring for my family. I am already very good at learning at home – I always get good grades and am quite capable of managing my own time in order to accomplish whatever I need to do. It sounded so safe and so certain; it sounded familiar….So that was what I should do, right?
I spent months praying about it but had received no “thus sayeth the Lord.” I had no peace about my “decision,” and that really bothered me. Something wasn’t right, but how could that be, when the situation seemed like it would be so perfect? I thought that I should have felt peace, and that also bothered me. To everyone who asked, I replied that I would be doing college via correspondence, etc. But I started to really cry out to God. Was this what He had for me? Would I eventually feel peace or even a scrap of joy? There is nothing wrong with doing college via correspondence, and there is nothing wrong with Liberty University. We tend to think that, in any given situation, there must be one “right” decision and one “wrong” decision. In some cases though, there isn’t really a “wrong” decision, but there is a best decision. That was my problem: none of my options were wrong in and of themselves, but I didn’t just want something that was fine or even merely good – I deeply desire God’s very best in every aspect of my life.
“You’ve been too long upon this mountain
It’s time you journey to the sea
Sometimes to trust in your false comfort
Is easier than trusting me
Some men only believe in what their eyes can see
Some men only believe in what their minds conceive”
Still I heard nothing. But there was a reason I didn’t hear anything: I wasn’t ready. For lack of another answer (answers are hard to come by when we don’t really want to listen to them), I was still telling people that I would be doing correspondence college. In fact, I was emailing back and forth with a friend of mine and said that I would be doing online college courses, but the very next day everything changed.
Through a strangely indirect and likely unrepeatable online search, Mom found the Trinity web page (we weren’t even looking for schools). She got really excited and said, “Sabra, I think this school would be perfect for you!”
My next problem was that I really didn’t want to leave my home and family (I am a homebody, remember). This meant that I didn’t really want to hear that God had a different idea. But a life of sweet surrender to my King is the life I want to live, and the same all-loving, all-knowing Father who literally brought me to my knees six years ago was waiting to bring me to my knees once again, though this time in a spiritual sense. This time it happened to me as I was sitting in my bed early one morning journaling. God was pretty clear. He asked me if I wanted His best. I was like, “Uh, yeah.” That’s what I had been waiting for, wasn’t it? But I should have
guessed what was coming next. He asked me if I wanted to do what He was doing or do what was safe.
Wow. Ouch. Was I going to cling to the familiar or step out into the unknown, trusting that He will take me all the way? Do I want to be (and be known as) the “eminently safe” girl, or do I want to grab hold of my freedom in Christ and run with it, being known for a bold faith? I have to say, the thought of going to Trinity both excites and terrifies me, but God has really opened up my eyes on this matter. As long as I am caught up in trying to be “safe,” I am never going to be able to trust God fully or be as free as He wants me to be. A life fully lived for my King is going to have an element of risk and danger and passion, and that is part of the beauty of the journey.
“But believing’s like conceiving
This child that we’re receiving
A gift beyond our reason
Its more of what we need, and less of what we know
It calls not to our mind, but cries out to our soul”
The lyrics from Jason Upton’s “Burning in the Sky” really struck me. Like the Israelites on Mount Sinai, there was nothing wrong with my “mountain” – God had been providing for me in the place I was at. But, just as He wanted the Israelites to do, He wanted me to journey into my promised land, into a greater abundance. God is indeed giving me more of what I need and less of what I know, and while my mind often protests, the rightness of it resonates in my spirit.
Trinity is a small school in a middle-of-nowhere town in North Dakota called Ellendale, which means that I will have the opportunity to know and be known rather than just be another member of a crowd. (North Dakota may sound random, but my dad’s parents live only a few hours’ drive from the Trinity campus.) I will be doing a double major to receive my Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, all the while getting to make new friends who are as passionate about Jesus as I am. I am really going to miss my family (reality still hasn’t fully set in), yet this choice feels so right. I won’t go into all my reasons as to why I made the decision to go to Trinity, but topping my list is that I know that I know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that this is what God has for me. So many things could have prevented me from attending this college, not the least of which were Trinity’s policy of accepting no student under 17 and my own late discovery of the fact that Trinity even exists. (I don’t recommend choosing a college less than six months before you plan to attend it.) But God knew exactly what would be best for me, and He worked everything out from there – no matter what it looked like to the rest of the world. As I made my decision and am preparing to leave for school, God keeps bringing this one Scripture passage to my mind:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
Some people were surprised that I “suddenly” decided to go to Trinity, but nothing is sudden to God – He’s had this planned for a long, long time, and His plans are always good. Though the massive amount of change this decision will bring, makes me a bit nervous, I am also very excited. I have “butterflies” in my tummy – in a good way. I have no idea what the next four years of my life will hold, but I know that they are going to be amazing.