Know. Be. Live. These three words changed the course of my future. In high school, I aspired to be a business owner…or an English instructor…or simply to find a husband in college, get married quickly, and skip out on a career. However, there was an issue in my desire to attempt higher education: I had an apathy for acquiring knowledge. I wanted to grow and learn and be refined, but I was not so willing to put in the effort. I believe that much of why I was going to go to college at all was to please my parents. Then again, what good, hard-working, oldest child of a family doesn’t desire to please her parents? Moreover, I decided to go to IMPACT 360. Praise God, my life was forever changed.
Reading books of theology, philosophy, and logic which are designed to spur the mind (this would be to KNOW), apathy soon was far removed from my mind’s eye. I was absolutely fascinated! My classmates and I studied the character and life of Christ and His two greatest commands, practicing and taking advantage of opportunities to BE and to LIVE in the light of the Savior. Primarily, my heart yearns for the wisdom of the Lord. I want to be so enthralled by Him, that I may do nothing but strive to be like Him in every aspect of life. Secondly, I despise apathy and long to light a fire in the souls of college students. There is an ever flowing fountain of knowledge and wisdom and hope for life from the God of the Universe! It is within reach through Christ, all we need do is take hold of it.
At IMPACT, I discovered an immense, God-given passion of mine. I realized that God may be calling me to profess the Gospel by becoming a professor of philosophy from a Christian perspective. So, if I was going to pursue this vocation (assuming it is definitely my calling), then what were some of the means by which I would reach this end? I needed to pursue the higher education that I once feared in my apathy…
After IMPACT, I chose to attend Columbia International University. It is an amazing place, always seeking ways to disciple their students spirituality, intellectually, and emotionally. I came to CIU with a challenge from Dr. Basie: to memorize Psalm 131. The psalmist says,
“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.”
Why in the world would Dr. Basie challenge me to memorize this Psalm? I had just come out of the program which he directs under the Lord, and he asked me to memorize a Psalm that (in my first impression of it) seemed to lead me back to the apathy I thought I had overcome. Needless to say, confusion set in and I almost forgot about the challenge.
Presently, I am a Humanities/Philosophy student here at CIU. I will not lie, it is a very difficult major. I spend much of my time reading and writing about the works of men who have shaped orthodoxy. It is a very common occurrence that I leave class with many more questions than when I go in. I guess that is a good sign. However, I began to be arrogant in the knowledge I have been attaining. I thought to myself, “Obviously, I am better than the average student. I am in the hardest major, taking classes that cause us to think about issues that the average man would not even dare to understand! This makes me a greater person, right?” In the first couple weeks, I asked question after question, trying to wrap my fallible mind around matters such as the Sovereignty of God, the origin of evil, eternity, Christ’s humanity and divinity, etc. I even inquired these things of the Lord, feeling very foolish and inadequate in His presence (and rightly so). Being hard on myself for my ignorance, I realized that God had intentionally made me incapable of understanding Him. At least I got one thing right.
My heart was drawn back to Psalm 131. As my eyes poured over the words and I allowed my soul to be quenched by Truth’s water, I finally understood why Dr. Basie had challenged me. I had become restless and blamed myself for my lack of understanding. St. Augustine of Hippo says in the very first chapter of his book The Confessions, “…our heart is restless until it rests in you.” How true. I don’t want to take what he is saying and over interpret it, although I do believe that his words summarize Psalm 131. It is a lesson in humility. I am a fallible human person. Yes, I am created in God’s image and loved by Him, enough so that He would die to save me. Yet, I am not divine, nor am I meant to understand everything. It is humbling to study and discover incredible mysteries of the Lord, knowing that I may never fully understand them. God has revealed to me that this is one of the most beautiful things about Him. Actually, the greatest lesson I have learned since being in college has been that the more knowledge I acquire, the more I realize how little I know compared to the vast ocean of things there are to know. And that is PERFECTLY okay!
As human persons, we are the creation, not the Creator. I am acquainted with people who have abandoned the faith because they could not “know it all.” God was right when he challenged me through Dr. Basie. I have calmed and quieted my soul. In humility, everyday before the Lord, I have to surrender my will to His, being content with my limited ability to know and understand. Apathy is a sin. Humility of the mind and heart is a discipline.
By: Ashley Willis