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Seminar leader: Mr.

Austin Surls
Anna Robinson
Dr. Lauber
BITH 111
CPO 2489
Integrative Essay on Christian Faith, Learning, and Witness

Questions will always follow the college student throughout their time of education. Questions

about people, the world, and why things are the way they are will be thrown back and forth in an

effort to make sense of it all. Perhaps most significantly and often asked of and by each student is

the pervasive question of, What is my place in the world? As I look for the answer in the midst

of my own education, I am looking at what it means to follow God with my whole heart,

specifically in my choices at college and in the future. At the moment I am considering majoring

in English, with a focus in writing. I want to learn how to write and tell peoples stories in a way

that glorifies God, and with a heart that seeks the biblical state of being that is shalom.

Many people know shalom to be just another way of saying peace. The deeper meaning of

shalom is so much more than this. Shalom is a reflection of who God is, and when something is

in a state of shalom, it means that it is the way God intended it to be.

In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight a rich state of

affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, all under

the arch of Gods love. Shalom, in other words, is the way things are supposed to be.

(Plantinga, 15).

In the world we often only see a brief glimpse of shalom, but Christians can hold onto the hope

of this true reality that God is calling us to.

The hope found in shalom has a huge impact on how I view writing. When I write, I want to help

people see the world in a different way, and it to move them in a way that awakens their hearts

and challenges them to engage in life. Practically trying to accomplish this can sometimes seem

impossible because of the level of brokenness in the world, and the tight hold of the lies that we

believe in our hearts. How is it possible to move a broken world to care when things are not the

way they should be? I think that the question is answered as Christ calls the world to long for

shalom to long for things to be as they should.

Of course we do want these things and persons, but we also want what lies behind them.

Our inconsolable secret, says C.S. Lewis, is that we are full of yearnings, sometimes

shy and sometimes passionate, that point us beyond the things of earth to the ultimate

reality of God. (Plantinga, 7).

By Gods grace I can write about the world with the intention to point people to God through the

world he created. The pain in the world does not have to be hopeless because as it incites people

to yearn for rescue and to crave peace, we are pointed to directly to Christ, who is the hope of


As I seek Gods calling for my life, I am trying to look at it as a vocation as opposed to just a

future career. A vocation is more than simply following Gods will in what job to pursue. It

means recognizing Gods calling to us in all aspects of our life, and that we are called to love and

serve God with everything we are. God desires to use our whole selves in the work of his


So when Christians strive to make Gods purposes their own, they tilt forward toward

Gods restoration of all things, the final coming of the kingdom. They think about it, pray
for it, study and work in ways that accord with it. Thinking personally as well as globally,

they want the kingdom to come in their own hearts as well as in the whole world.

(Plantinga, xii).

A vocation is connected to every part of life; in a career, in relationships, in our spiritual life, it

all means engaging with the world with the focus on the coming of Gods kingdom.

With this in mind, it completely changes how I make decisions both with regards to the present

and my future. As I am commanded to love God with everything I am (Mark 12:30), it means

that even with which classes I choose to take, my choice should be made based on this. It also

means that I need to live in the present. College is not just a time where I wait for the future to

come, I am called to love God and people in the here and now.

For a people called to imitate an incarnate Lord, this unwitting loss of the ability to fully

inhabit the present tense, in our flesh and blood, is simply and tragically the loss of our

greatest birthright. In the end, if the only thing that really matters is faith expressing itself

in love (Gal 5:6), we cannot forget that love happens in only one place, here, and at only

one time, now. (Davis, Ryken, 250).

My faith should be an outpouring of the love of God, and in the terms of my vocation, that love

should be evident in my life as a whole.

The only thing that makes me capable of living out this vocation is redemption. Redemption is

the key to living in freedom in Christ. Alone, no one is capable of loving or living for God fully.

Our redemption comes from Christ, who justified us by his grace (Romans 3:24). Our

righteousness is from Christ, not from anything that we can do.

College can be intimidating, because there is a lot of fear of failure. There is the obvious fear of

failing classes, but there is also the increased weight of the fear of failing at life. If we do dont

do well, if we arent successful, if we make a mess of relationships; all of these contribute to the

feeling of not being worthy. Redemption says that I do not have to feel that way. Accepting that I

am redeemed means to rest in the finished work of Christ.

John Calvin believed that an unredeemed life keeps oscillating back and forth between

pride (Ive made it!) and despair (Ill never make it). In his view, redemption gives

people security, or (one of Calvins favorite words) repose. His idea was that those who

lean into Gods grace and let it hold them up can drop some of their performance

anxiety. (Plantinga, 119).

Whatever God calls me to do in life, both in the present and the future, I can let go of fear

because my worth is not contingent on my ability to succeed. Gods grace covers my deficiencies

as I am redeemed in Christ, and this leaves me free to serve him wholeheartedly.

My future is still uncertain in my eyes, but I am learning to rest in the assurance of what God is

calling me to right now. I am commanded to love him with everything that I am as I continue my

education and engage in life and the world around. As I potentially pursue a career in writing, my

success is not based on my abilities, and I can know that Christ will work through me. In what I

write, I pray that others will taste the desire in each of us that longs for shalom, that longs for

Christ as our fulfillment.

Word Count: 1245