This next excerpt is from Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. She relates something that happened to Jim Elliot his senior year in college, and it was an experience I too can identify with.
“A strange thing happened during Jim’s senior year in college. He called it his Renaissance-a new openness to social life, friendships with people he did not consider specially “spiritual,” the freedom to date if he felt like dating, and a great deal of clowning, giving vent to his native flair for acting and mimicry. I heard of it secondhand and was offended. What had happened to him?
A psychologist could explain it easily no doubt. Jim’s explanation was simply that the Lord had liberated him from some old restraints, enabling him to reach out, break barriers, enjoy things. He admitted that he had carried it to far…”
I experienced a similar thing in this, my senior year. Not the dating part, nor the acting. But the social freedom. I’ve watched my friends try to balance church life and campus life. I’ve seen many people do it in various ways. Some friends threw off their Christian beliefs in totality. Some got immersed in a campus ministry like BCM or FCA. Some joined christian frats and sororities. Some joined greek frats and sororities, trying to minister from the inside.
I chose to bind myself to the local church, and not be involved in a campus ministry. Consequently, most of my campus friendships freshman through junior year centered around studying and class. There wasn’t too much interaction outside of class. I had believers challenge me on this…challenge my commitment to evangelism or my passion for the lost. And I prayed about it, sought how the Lord would have me interact with non-believers. And it took three years for me to feel a freedom from God to join in on campus.
You see, God knows better than my friends and I. He knew that I needed that preparation, that protection, that growth, the added discernment to really reach out to the world. Don’t get me wrong. I had conversations with lost friends about beliefs and the gospel. But I wasn’t deeply pouring into their life, because I think that, up until recently, they would have poured more into my life than I into theirs.
So my last year at UF, I too have had a sort of Renaissance. I’ve had a semi more typical college experience. But I was able to be in the world, not of it. I was able to be salt and light without being influenced myself. And this is only by and through the precious grace of God, and the quiet voice of the Spirit! Myself at 18, with all the good evangelistic intentions, most likely would have fallen prey to the trappings and attractiveness that the world has to offer.
So I am leaving UF with some worldly friendships that only developed in the last year, which I hope to continue to build for many years to come. They have become very dear to me. Church was kind of like a gas station this past year. I came to get filled up, and then headed back out onto campus to pour out onto others. And there were times where I was too drained, and made poor decisions. Like Jim Elliot, there were moments where I took this freedom too far at times. But God’s grace, protection, and care have been there every step of the way. So too has his forgiveness.
But I hope that they have seen the gospel. I pray that have seen a difference in me, and what it is like to live for Christ and him crucified. I have had some of the most amazing conversations-sharing the gospel of course, but other subjects too. Leadership and submission. Obedience to parents. Purity and sexual abstinence. Alcoholic abstinence. Biblical masculinity and femininity.
Oh I pray that I have left a mark on this campus. I pray that this last Renaissance year was edifying for they and I.