On my way out of the gym this morning, a man offered me a Bible. I always find it awkward when this happens. At least once a year, the Gideons position themselves around campus and hand out New Testaments. I do my best to smile politely, not wanting them to feel discouraged, and explain that I already have one.
When it happened unexpectedly, at the gym of all places, it got me thinking.
This semester is extremely challenging in many ways. The apartments, which have been my home for three years, suddenly feel WAY too small. My workload is immense. Being in three literature classes is insane. I’ll sit and read all day long and still not feel like I accomplished half of what I needed. Preparing for the Bible study I lead is taking a lot more time. Speech season is coming up, which means my Saturdays will soon be spent judging meets all day instead of getting ahead. In addition to all this, the head copyeditor of the student paper is away for the semester and requested my assistance to help the paper stay afloat. (Do I say yes when I really don’t want to?)
Then, there’s my senior seminar, which is the most challenging class I’ve ever encountered. I knew it would be hard going in, but good grief. The professor is one of the most intelligent human beings I’ve ever met. All my classmates have had him before, so they already know how to handle his intense, direct, probing way of teaching. I know I’ll get there, it will just take time to adapt and get a grasp for the ideas. What’s most frustrating for me, though, is that he’s very into philosophy, tied intimately with theology and religion. I’m not irked by the fact that his views and treatment of Christianity are flawed, but by the fact that I find a lot of that strain of discourse pointless. My brain doesn’t naturally function philosophically. I’m much more practical. I like to see the work before me and do it, not sit back and ponder the philosophical meanings behind things.
Last night, I woke up at four in the morning and spent an hour having a hypothetical, half-asleep theological debate with said professor. Back and forth I went, mentally finding scripture passages that validate my points, all the while knowing he (who is an atheist) will not understand. The whole time, I knew it was stupid and dearly tried to fall back asleep. But the thing is, part of me knows that my professor will push me and put my faith on trial when he finds out I’m not only a Christian, but one headed into a lifetime of ministry. He’s going to batter me with empty philosophy, wisdom of the world, in attempt to push my critical thinking skills.
That’s why the man at the gym offering me a Bible stood out to me so much. It was a reminder–God’s on my side. I don’t have to debate or defend myself. Because my faith is not his business. It’s not his job as my professor to push that. It’s his job to teach me about American biographical novels and help me learn. In turn, it’s not my job to try to win him over. This isn’t the movie God’s Not Dead (which I haven’t actually seen ’cause I find the whole concept too heavy-handed). It’s my job to be diligent, write my big paper, and move on with my life.
It’s incredibly comforting that, even though this semester feels like such a burden and weight in so many ways, I don’t have to worry or fear. All I have to do is lean in and trust that God will bring me through. He’s called me to a life of serving, doing, encouraging, loving, and building the Kingdom and He is going to get me there.