Bethany is a second year psychology major, who gets overly excited about food, loves being crafty (in terms of DIY projects, not being sneaky) and enjoys speaking fondly of her days working at Jamba Juice.
By the grace of God I was raised in a Christian home. I am extremely thankful for this, as from the beginning, my life was characterized by running away from God. I learned about the Gospel in Sunday school, but the only thing that stuck out to me and continued to haunt me was my sin that could only be punished by hell. I distinctly remember so many of my nights as a kid, praying over and over asking for God to forgive my sins and not send me to hell. So while I understood the depth of my sin, that God is a God of forgiveness and Jesus died to save me from my sins, I failed to understand true grace, and that it is by grace alone that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). As a result, I attempted to accept Christ multiple times as a kid, each time worrying that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough to save me. Two times occurred at my church’s VBS (Vacation Bible School) when I was about 3 and 4 years old, and the final time was with my mom, when I was 6. During the final time, I had accepted Christ as Savior, understanding that Jesus’ death on the cross was enough to atone for all of my sins and that when God looks upon me, He sees Christ in my place.
Being so assured of my salvation, I shifted from a dependence on God to an independence from God. I would use God as the one I would pray to when my grades were at risk or when I worried about my social life. My faithful parents would constantly buy me devotional books and encourage me to read them, but I had little desire for God’s word and brushed them off. I made the basketball team during 7th grade and made a lot of friends because being on the basketball team was the cool thing to do at our middle school. But after I didn’t make the team during 8th grade, suddenly the popular friends I had made the previous year no longer knew me. That was the first time I experienced being significantly let down by the world. God used this trial to help me come to an understanding of how fleeting this world is and how important it is to be in this world and not of it (Philippians 3:8).
No longer having Friday night basketball practice to make excuses of having too much homework, I began attending youth group more consistently. There I began to find joy in Christian friendships and fellowship. Between 8th and 9th grade I understood the importance of holding Christ as not only my Savior, but my Lord. Previously, I treated God like someone I could give my laundry list to, someone that could make my troubles go away. But little did I know that I was speaking to God, who loved me when I was so unlovable, who eternally freed me from condemnation, who I am completely dependent on and in no way needs me, but who chooses to still use me to bring glory to Himself. Having this understanding, there was no way I could not obey Him any longer.
My freshman year small group leader was a constant reminder, through her guidance and example, of what it meant to not fixate on herself, but to give all glory to Christ. After coming to college, God has also been cultivating in me a heart for evangelism. From having non-christian roommates for both my freshman and sophomore year, to homeless ministry and fishing, I am continually striving to live a life reflective of knowing Christ and being bold in proclaiming the Gospel. (Acts 20:24) My desire is to grow in the knowledge of God, in order to better understand the all-powerful, perfect God I often sin against, and to better exemplify Christ’s sacrificial love. I desire to glorify and live for God because of who He is and all that He has done for us. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of your loving-kindness, because of your truth” (Psalm 115:1).