Numerous and widely varied are the structures that man has created. Ranging from simple and rugged to glorious and ornate, we have a vast swath of examples demonstrating mankind’s architectural ingenuity. However, despite the greatest designs and beautiful decor, lying quietly and unassumingly beneath each masterpiece is something rarely thought about but vitally important to its structural integrity. Indeed, a building’s foundation, probably more than any other factor, determines whether the structure above it will stand the test of time or be reduced to ruins by the stresses of shifting weather patterns and natural disasters in the area.
People are like this as well. We can design our lives with ambitious goals, advanced degrees, and influential careers, but when the storms of life hit us, those things alone will not carry us through. We need a foundation, and when the storm hits, it’s too late to build it.
This is why I am immensely grateful that I chose to follow the call of God in attending New Hope Christian College, where He would expand, strengthen, and solidify the foundation He had been laying in my life for years before. Specifically, there are three foundations that I would like to give Him glory for, all of which have been vital in my vocational pursuits and have grounded me in the unexpected hard times that would soon follow my graduation.
The first of these is a commitment to careful study and academic rigor. Now, one can get along reasonably well in their relationship with Christ without theology courses and hermeneutical studies. However, it is also the case that one can be led astray if their times of devotion to the Lord are not governed by an accurate understanding of Scripture. This is where the academic rigor of my classes at New Hope became increasingly beneficial for the development of both my character and my thinking as a Christian. I admit that this felt dry at times, and indeed that reading hundreds of pages of Christian history or parsing Greek texts and writing long essays did not feel as immediately helpful or rewarding as simply, “getting out there and doing ministry.” However, when I had been swayed into a period of confusion and hyper-spiritualism during my junior year, it was neither the call of ministry nor long times of aimless prayer and undisciplined devotional reading that restrained me from nearly derailing my life and deeply hurting the people around me. Rather, it was when I took a step to renew my commitment to reading and understanding God’s Word properly that I was able to receive clear instruction from the Lord and get back on the right course. If not for my studies at NHCC, I may not have had the tools to combat the lies the enemy was trying to get me to believe in that moment. Furthermore, it was through this experience—coupled with the robust biblical courses of my senior year and the advice, care, and mentorship of a staff who were sold out for Christ—that God forged a commitment to study and academic rigor into a heart for biblical discernment, which I have been able to use on countless occasions to benefit myself, my family, and others around me.
The second foundation God developed in me at New Hope is a foundation in prayer and the Word of God. During my time at NHCC, we were not just passively encouraged to read Scripture and commune with God; rather, it was DNA of what it meant to be an NHCC student and was built into the structure. With chapel attendance, morning devotions, and weekly small groups all required parts of our program, I was given space and structure to go beyond the mere intellectual study of Scripture and forge a deep connection with the One who wrote it. While these four hours each week of devotional time were not sufficient in themselves for developing such a relationship, having these items built into my requirements forced me to develop the habits and discipline I would need to make my time with God a daily priority. And, while I still have not mastered this to the point of perfection, through this habit I have learned how to properly hear and discern His voice in both prayer and Scripture and how to love Him as a son, not just obey Him as a servant. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Finally, the third foundation God developed in me at New Hope was a commitment to life-long learning. Prior to my time in college, I had little interest in doing much independent reading or study. I willingly (well…mostly willingly) did what was required for my education, but beyond that, I preferred to spend my time watching television or playing video games. This began to change for me in college, though, as I was exposed to authors who expanded my knowledge and deepened my understanding in ways I had not yet experienced. I discovered through research papers and other coursework that there was a wealth of information out there just waiting to be put to kingdom use. I also realized that all of this information could never be obtained in just four years of college. Thus was ignited in me a passion to establish a life-long pursuit of knowledge so that I can continue both growing personally and deepening the positive impact that I have on the world around me.
Now, I mentioned before that I went through some unexpected hard times after college. While it was during this time that I was celebrating my graduation, dating my wife, and preparing for marriage, this was also a time of great difficulty and loss for both my family and hers. I will not get into too much detail, but with cancer diagnoses, multiple deaths in our families, and the panic of COVID-19 breaking out (not to mention just the normal stressors of looking for housing, finding work, and merging two lives), she and I experienced in the span of roughly two years of more stress, trials, and difficulty than either of us had in our entire lives. Yet it was in this time that we were able to rely on the foundations that God had laid in our lives, and I can gratefully say that, while it was immensely difficult emotionally, we were able to weather the storm and come out with our faith and marriage not only intact but stronger than it was before.
All glory to God for being the Master Architect who knew in advance the foundations that we would need and patiently formed them in obscurity before we needed them. Praise be to Him.