The final night before I head home from this lousy semester just ended, but I was reminded earlier about something that God implanted within me ever since I gave my life to Christ. Because in the end, the one thing that mattered most was Jesus, who gives all those who follow Him true, worthwhile purpose for their lives. And yet I wasn’t being undignified enough to share with others this revelation…
Over the four years I’ve studied at Penn State, I was assured that not everything was chalked up to what incoming students and propaganda said. If sports and partying instinctively came to mind, that was really it for most undergraduates. Night after night of hanging around downtown, getting “smashed” and stumbling back in a daze, forgetting it all the next day and yet boasting about how awesome it was to have done something out of the norm. Returning to Monday, the pattern of studying began again, only to conclude the week with yet another round of distilled spirits and clashed memories.
On the academic end, I was mostly disappointed as well. Asking even graduating senior electrical engineers about what they’d like to do with their major, they often responded with a shrug and uncertainty about their future (if monetary gains were disregarded). Spending $21,000+ a year for this didn’t add up at all if all one had to show for his or her work was a piece of paper. Yet I dredged up this thought again and again in the past year, because it felt very discouraging that many of my professors – and even those in other majors – seemed impassioned about their privileged positions; whether their students understood the material or not, the end goal was to press on and complete the curriculum assigned to the instructors. It ultimately felt empty-handed when the students themselves could do much of the learning. Where was the end in teaching, otherwise?
But of all places to go tonight, I headed downtown to the only McDonalds in town for a late dinner and a time of reflection on the almost-hopeless nature of this university. This was a location notorious for attracting drunken students after the bars close. Grabbing a small order, I sat down and began eating, overhearing bits from a pair of Asian males conversing in the adjacent table. Words about engineering slid back and forth, but then I picked up talk about sowing seeds and leading others to Christ.
It turned out that one of them was a graduated student in an electrical engineering lab I had with him years back, and the other was Dr. Kyusun Choi, a well-known professor of the computer engineering department. I’ve never had the privilege of taking a class with the latter, but if God led us to meet one another on any other day, it was definitely on His timing. Because through Dr. Choi, God assured me that ultimately, our calling in life was to serve the Lord and to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This was a campus that needed purpose not through alcohol, entertainment, and empty studies, but a thriving, loving Father whose name is Yahweh. It didn’t matter if we served as students or as professors; this was His desire for us. And whether it was in college or in a 3rd-world country, we were given the choice of whether to follow His lead or not. I re-realized then that this semester fell flatter than all my others here, not because of how I studied or how boring my instructors were, but because I failed to ensure that God was always first in my life and that I enjoyed Him in all aspects of such.
So this is my prayer to You, my Lord: that I thank You for the blessings You’ve bestowed upon me, right up through what Dr. Choi told me earlier and beyond. That You may continue to bless Dr. Choi, his faculty and students, and those he reaches to that they may grow in the Lord every day, not losing sight of the ultimate goal You’ve placed in their lives. That You may forgive me for the irresponsible usage of Your time, and my forgetfulness, these past years – yet You may help me appreciate the times of refreshing that You’ve granted me regardless. That I may thank You each day for the true purpose You’ve given me in all I do, of which I am obligated in joy and love to share with others around me. That this summer, I may remember to serve You in work and play, in engineering and art, in studying and relaxation, in church and out, and in all times and ways of walking in Your light. This is Your time and Your life, my Lord.
In Christ’s name I pray this, Amen.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
– Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)