Exactly a year ago, I packed my belongings into my car and, after saying my final farewell, left the small middle-of-the-cornfields campus town that transformed my life. I remember weeping great drops of tears as I got on the freeway, with Champaign finally in my rear-view mirror – which, I’ll admit, didn’t stop until I reached Indianapolis. Eleven hours later, I arrived at a very different city – Washington, D.C.
Here I am now, officially a “2L” (second-year law student) – having survived first year of law school and D.C. driving/drivers. In this one year, so much has changed: a different circle of friends, a different church, different responsibilities (definitely wouldn’t be preparing a Supreme Court case if I was still in Champaign), etc. Yet, exciting as it is to study law in Washington D.C. and to be privileged with the rare opportunity of bringing a case before the Supreme Court of the United States, I find myself wondering: did I make the right decision coming to DC? Have I grown? Or have I languished because of my lack of spiritual self-discipline?
As I look back on this past year, the answers are clear. How could I doubt that God brought me here to DC? I remember the passion and conviction that brought me here: wanting to see our country’s capital, and the country itself, revived; wanting to be a man who answered the call to stand in the gap for American University, a school known as “the graveyard of Christian ministries”; and, ultimately, wanting to be used by God wherever I am. Still, somewhere along the way, these convictions faded as I faced discouragements, busyness, distractions… and I must sadly admit, in my transition to young adult life, law school, and the new environment, it became to easy to stop seeking God.
An older brother at the church I now attend in DC calls it “the gift of the desert.” Yes, it sucked. But as I look back, God has indeed turned a desert experience into a gift. Just as fledglings must fall and struggle many times after leaving the safety of the nest before they could finally take flight, God has given me this opportunity to build my character, spiritual discipline, and to teach me to seek Him even when it’s difficult – when I don’t have eight prayer meetings a week available to me, when I am not constantly surrounded by Christian friends and roommates – when I’m simply not being “spoon-fed” with opportunities to grow. Yes, I struggled – languished, even – but I grew because God remained faithful, even when I was terribly unfaithful. Through the desert, God remained true to His promise.
At a retreat this past weekend, a wise, old lady that prays a lot – who I consider to be a spiritual grandma of sorts – reminded all of us (paraphrased): “Don’t depend on the programs that the church has to offer, don’t wait for the church to create opportunities for you to grow: it’s just because you’re not seeking God!” Want to see Washington D.C./AU/Taiwan revived? Just pray!
Although I expected to do so at first, I now know that I will not find another church that has the sort of amazing “programs” and opportunities as CFC. As all CFC alumni would agree, CFC was unique – and it will doubtlessly hold an irreplaceable position in my heart. But it was only after leaving the comfort of CFC for a whole year that I could fully appreciate the true value of all that I experienced and learned there:
“This was the very reason you were brought into Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you might know me better there.”
– Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
CFC was my Narnia – a training ground and unique environment where I experienced God’s grace, love, faithfulness and glory in power. Aslan made it clear to the children that Narnia was meant to train them and help them build an intimate relationship with God – so that in their own world they can be faithful until the end. And so, it is apparent to me now more than ever that it was for this very reason I was brought to the cornfields of Illinois – that by knowing Him there for a little, I might know Him better here and now.
I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth.
O Lord, help me: may I be a watchman, faithful until the end, never silent day or night.
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory.