Here's the testimony I gave at InterVarsity to pitch our vision for the campus: why we exist and why people keep coming.
At InterVarsity, we have a vision to advance the kingdom of God at Northeastern through whole-life conversion to Jesus. By surrendering our hearts to Jesus, we begin to change our perspective on our view of the campus and on our own lives. We do this in community at IV to share our experience and to grow together as we continually seek conversion and surrender to God.
I, myself, have been wrestling with this concept of whole-life conversion. I have this tendency to separate my relationships. I have a group of church friends, a group of intervarsity friends, a group of chemistry major friends, a group of home friends, and my boyfriend. It’s incredibly awkward to mix them altogether. Amongst the groups of friends I have, there’s God. It’s uncomfortable for me to add God to the picture, but you see, the funny thing about whole-life conversion is that God wants to be changing in your WHOLE LIFE.
One major part of my life that I had trouble giving up to God was my relationship with my boyfriend, Shawn. I met Shawn when I was on co-op where we were both working there as co-ops. I didn’t know his faith background, and it’s not a natural conversation to have in the middle of work. Even after co-op ended and we started dating, it wasn’t comfortable for either of us to venture there. But time and time again, God kept trying to work into our relationship. I distinctly remember one time when he asked, “Does your whole family go to church?” I could have answered, and then asked him if his family did and what his faith background was and how his church worked and what he believes in and what his relationship with God is like, but all I said was “Nope”. Why? I was afraid of rejection and close-mindedness if I asked. I was afraid of him seeing me differently and completely leaving me. I didn’t want to be alone after the longest, real-est, and best relationship with a significant other I have ever had. Why would I want to bring God into such a valuable relationship that I treasure and don’t want to lose?
But here’s the reality: shouldn’t my relationship with God be the one that I treasure the most and don’t want to lose? During my winter break, Kaitlin challenged me to surrender this relationship with Shawn to God. The only thing that went on in my head as she said this was “GOD IS GOING TO TAKE HIM AWAY. I DON’T WANT HIM TO TAKE HIM AWAY. WHAT IS GOD GOING TO DO? I DON’T TRUST GOD. I DON’T WANT TO SURRENDER. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! ”. I wrestled with God over this for the next two weeks, trying to understand what it meant to surrender. Was I supposed to hear angels singing when I finally proclaim surrender? How am I supposed to feel after I surrender? I carried this with me to Urbana and Kaitlin reminded me that even though this is supposed to be a missions conference, God can still speak in our areas of life that he wants to go into--like my relationship. I kind of shoved it aside as I filled up the rest of the conference with noise about the gospel and going to Japan for short term missions and challenging myself to go into the unknown and uncomfortable places that don’t know God. And then during the last day, I was singing a song during worship that said: “I surrender my life to you”. But the thing is, I haven’t surrendered this relationship up to God yet. How was I supposed to proclaim that I surrender my life to God if I haven’t surrendered a part of my life? I couldn’t bring myself to say YES to this, but kept thinking about it throughout the day. Why was I so afraid of surrendering? If I’m called to preach the gospel of this loving, graceful, merciful, and just God, what is there to be afraid of? Why was I afraid of letting this go to the one who protects, the one who guides, and the one who loves? Finally, as I was closing off the year worshipping with 16,000 other students at Urbana, I said “Okay God, you can take it. You can take this relationship from me and do whatever you wish to do. Just show me and Shawn loads and loads of mercy as your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
As I was externally processing with a friend back at home post-Urbana talking to her about surrender, I realized that our entire relationship with God is surrender. When you choose to accept Jesus as your savior and Lord over your life, you’re surrendering your old way of life and choosing to live in the new. Even in the small instances where somebody shoves you on their way to class, you surrender your desire to shove them back and choose to live like Christ and turn the other cheek. In each instance, everything is a process and it’s a constant conversion back to Christ. It’s a constant growing of allowing Christ to penetrate in each and every area of my life. And that’s why InterVarsity exists: so we can share these instances where we are challenged day-by-day to surrender our lives to God in community. We may be coming from all different walks of faith, but we are still turning to God for the first time or over and over again . It’s a hard and difficult process to choose not to shove the person back or to choose to give the relationship you treasure the most on earth to God. It took me over 6 months to finally give this relationship up to God and I’m still working on it; but trust me, the life-giving transformation of it all makes it worth it. I can put all of my trust in God and know that he is constantly working in my relationship and that He knows what He’s doing, and I can be at peace. It’s such a great feeling to know that somebody else who knows everything and is in everything, has everything under control. So as each and every one of us learns or begins to surrender our whole life and constantly convert back to Jesus, would you join us in this life-giving transformation to a loving and faithful God, in community at InterVarsity?