The Valley of the Shadow of Death

I’m honored to tell you that I’ll be attending Vanderbilt University in the Fall. But it was not an easy road to get to this point.

Two weekends ago, I attended a program called MOSAIC, which is a multi-cultural program that Vanderbilt hosts every year. Last weekend, I attended a scholarship weekend at Wake Forest to see if I would win a full scholarship to the school. After two days of anxious (so anxious I read “The Hunger Games” in one sitting trying to get my mind off of it), I didn’t get it.

I was devastated. So, since Wednesday at 1:30, I’ve been in a pretty significant depression of sorts, because that meant that it was over. I couldn’t go to Vanderbilt (didn’t get the scholarship there). I didn’t get the scholarship at Washington University in St. Louis (The Ervin Scholarship). I let the Gordon Scholarship slip away at Wake Forest. I did what I could, but it wasn’t enough. I’ll here more about what they’re offering at Wake next week, and from Duke as well. We may be able to convince Vanderbilt to increase their aid given that other schools are offering more, but we’ll see.

I’ll say it again: as the title of this piece shows, I’ve been extremely depressed lately that everything I’d been working towards for the past year wouldn’t work out simply due to the college system and the fact that my parents came from absolutely nothing in college to where they are now, financially. I would have gone to a certain public intitution in Alabama for free, but I wouldn’t have been happy there, and I don’t think that the culture of the school matches who I am.

I know it’s going to be a huge sacrifice for my parents to send me to school. But as they told me this morning over pancakes when they broke the news to me, I’ll have to put some skin in the game as well. I’ll have to do work-study. It’s going to take some work that we didn’t originally want to put in. But that’s ok, because I’m willing to do it. I’m not going to let my parents down.

Naturally, thank you to my parents. Thank you to my friends and community, who spurred me on. Thank you to my family, for your financial and emotional support. Thanks teachers and Rickards, for your education, opportunity, and letters of reccomendation. I won’t let you down.

But none of this would be possible without God. I’ve been praying (a lot more than usual, I must admit) that this college process of mine would work itself out the way He planned for it to, as have my parents. And when I missed those scholarships, I was pretty hurt. But I’ve been reading my Bible and praying that it would work out, and I think it has. Thank you God.

And now, the phrase I’ve been waititng to say for over a year:

I’m a Vanderbilt Commodore.

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Hell in a Handbasket

Tonight, Real Life (my church’s High School Bible study) had some really interesting conversations about the nature of Hell, and why God allows it. I’ll jot down some notes about it, though I may come back to them at a later date. The below tidbits are small excerpts of thought, each one could easily get its own post, or book.

Concerning God judging humans:

I have this scenario for those who don’t think God should judge us: When someone harms something you love, do you get mad? Do you want to protect and guard it? So does God. Just like you don’t want to live in a country with no law or retribution, God doesn’t want us to live a lowness, take all world. If God doesn’t judge the bad acts of humanity, then we have to. But we can’t do God’s job. (Yes, that means Christians can’t judge, and the real ones don’t. Keep in mind that no one is perfect.) Only if we can be sure that there’s a God who can right every wrong on each perfectly can we stay out of the endless cycle of revenge.

Concerning Hell:

Does God send us to Hell?

No, it’s a choice. It’s a choice made when we decide to put ourselves above God. And what is Hell? A place completely devoid of God, and by extension, happiness, joy, dove, and all good. In Hell, we lose our identities and worship exactly what we did in life, be it sex, alcohol, or money, etc. — just without the joy. Romans Chapters 1 & 2 explain this in more detail.

This quote sums up the position of Hell in our lives well. It’s one of the most potent things that I said today, with some spicing up by Father A: “Hell is the default position; the miracle of Jesus is that anyone can get to heaven. If you’re in love with Jesus fully, you don’t have to worry about heaven.” In addition, Hell serves as a deterrent — much like jail and prison in America do.

Here’s a nifty visual I came up with that describes the relationship between Hell, Heaven, and Jesus:

Imagine a globe. Similar to how Muslims all pray towards Mecca, pretend that at one fixed point on that globe there is Point Heaven. We all start at any other point on that globe. By the rules of geometry, there is exactly one direction that we can go to reach Point Heaven. That one direction is Jesus. Any other angle leads off into an abyss to nowhere (if we, say, left the orbit of the sphere) or endlessly circumnavigating the globe at that same fixed angle, never reaching Point Heaven. In both of those instances, we are separate from Heaven and God — Hell. 
 

So Hell in the absence of God and Heaven. Doesn’t sound like a fun to spend eternity at.

SN: Thoughts here are also reflected in The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller. One of my favorite books for sure.