To my Illinois Lutheran family,
Thirteen years is a long time but it feels just like yesterday my family came to Crete and joined the Illinois Lutheran family. My memory is not very good but I know there are many moments of celebration that I will never forget. We’ve also been through some of the most difficult times of our lives. We witnessed strength of faith that rarely has the opportunity to show itself.
Over the years there are 4 passages that kept popping up that gave me comfort, joy, and strength. I just want to share them with you before we leave in the hope that they provide the same comfort and strength for you as they have done for me.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Wow! How often have we needed to rely on this one! When we are feeling anxiety that we may think that no one can understand or a depth of loss that is so deep we feel no hope. God gives us hope. Be still – Let God be God! He is bigger, better, wiser, stronger than we can imagine. He sent His son to die for us and He will see you through your troubles. Keep trusting! Never doubt His love for you.The Lord is telling us to give it up! So many of our worries and anxieties come from thinking that we are supposed to fix everything, that it’s our duty to tame any chaos in our lives. Not true. Not real. Not possible. Some things (many things actually), like global pandemics and loss of life, we have no control over. We don’t know what’s going to happen. But we know something deeper and more rock-solid. We know God!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
You are not a random accident of evolution. You are amazing! God personally knit you together in your mother’s womb. The end result is something fantastic, unique, and special.
God has a specific plan mapped out just for YOU. Knowing this means that you can face any situation or circumstance with confidence. You know that God loves you and has this great plan for your life. You are too important to settle for anything less than God’s best for your life. When it comes to dating, know that God has someone great for you. When it comes to your career believe that God has good plans in store for you.When you stray from the plan, God pulls you back. And when you stray again, God does not leave you. He stays with you. He uses his Word to correct and comfort you.
Know that you can do big things for God because you’re important to Him and His plan. God’s value on your life isn’t based on what you do but who you are in Him. He sees you and sees your value. He sees you and loves you. He has a divine purpose for you. You are important to God and He loves you.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I have too often focused on the negative. We are bombarded with negative, with evil, with sin. It’s hard not to get bogged down with the depressing world we are shown to be running in a downward spiral.
Here we are encouraged to think about good things. This shows us that there’s power in what you think about. Your thoughts can lead to a change in your actions and direction. The thoughts you think can determine where you go in life.
So choose to redirect your thoughts when you begin to get down on yourself. Replace those negative thoughts with things that are positive, things that God would say about you or the situation you’re facing. Then maybe we can say we are bombarded with the beauty of His creation, with blessings upon blessings, with goodness, with love.
Your thoughts matter! Focus on the good! Trust in God’s plan.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
I’ve memorized the verses. I’ve listened to countless chapels. I’ve sang a gazillion Jesus songs. I’m good.
Being here at ILS isn’t enough. James says, “Don’t just listen to God’s Word. Be a doer of the Word!”
- God tells us to love one another. Do it! You can’t imagine how a small kind word to someone can make a huge impact on their day and maybe even their spiritual life!
- God tells us to forgive one another. I pray you can do that. It is not only beneficial to the person you forgive but to you also. Life is too short to hold onto grudges and anger.
- Those of you searching for answers. God’s word has them.
- I pray that God’s Word is always the standard for your life. I pray you always put God first in all you do and in doing that show Christ’s love to a world that so badly needs it.
It is hard to leave a place you love. It is hard to leave students that you care deeply about. It is hard to say goodbye to colleagues that truly want the best for you, spiritually, physically, and mentally. It’s hard to leave parents that sacrifice much to send their children to be fed and nourished by God’s grace, but this is what God has led me to do. So, I keep trusting God’s plan for my family and for the ILS family.
Thank you for the countless blessings my family has received through you.
Keep feeding your faith Chargers!
God’s richest blessings to you all.