Do not Forget the LORD your God
I think it's easy for us to forget things. I forget what I ate for lunch the previous day. I forget why I walked into the kitchen when, seconds earlier, I had a craving for some tea. I even forget that God answered prayers that I prayed days, weeks, months, even years ago. This time of year, I like to look back and remember what God has done in my life. While I know I'm forgetting things here and there, it's still undeniable how powerfully he's worked in such a short amount of time.
If you told me three years ago that I would be a pastor-in-training working on a college campus in Dallas, I would've told you you were crazy. I loved science. I wanted to find the universal vaccine for the flu. I wanted to develop new drugs to help fight infections. God was the last thing on my mind. Although, I think even during that time in college when I felt I had everything together, he was still working. As I started research in a lab at UTA, I found research was the last thing I wanted to do. The last thing I wanted to do was looking at Petri dishes in a fluorescent-lit laboratory for the rest of my life. I wanted relationships. Real relationships. But I had very few friends during that time, and I was just coming to terms that I had a lot of work to do in recovering from depression and social anxiety.
I remember often thinking during my last year or so at UTA, "I wish I had some more friends." The only friends I had were one or two people who I went to high school with. Even then we didn't see each other often. Maybe I prayed for friends during that time. I honestly can't remember. I do remember in March of 2019 I met someone who would quickly become my best friend and would show me what real, genuine relationships looked like. His name is Austin Nelson. He invited me to his small group, the weekly meetings that were held by FOCUS, and studied the Bible with me. I met so many people in FOCUS who accepted me for who I was and even seemed to like me in spite of all my junk. And they did it all in the name of Jesus. That's when I decided to give it all for Jesus.
This is my favorite picture of me and Austin at Fall Camp 2019. I think this is the happiest I had been in a long time. I thank God for giving me such a fun, joyful, Jesus-loving friend in Austin.
A hodgepodge of guys from the UTA ministry at a Top Golf one afternoon. It was guys like these who welcomed me in and loved me and showed me who Jesus is.
Fast forward to the end of my final year at UTA. I led core with Austin that year, and I saw how important it is for college students to know who Jesus is. College students are constantly bombarded with messages from the culture and peers about what a fulfilling life looks like. Some, like me in my early college years, are struggling to make friends or even get out of bed. If Jesus could turn my life around with real, God-focused relationships, why couldn't he do it for others? So, I decided to take my ministry even further and apply for the apprenticeship. And now here I am at UTD leading others to Jesus as best I can. It is by God's sweet grace that I'm here and that I can even call myself a Christian. Thank you to all of you who have supported me financially and spiritually through this apprenticeship.