In case you haven’t heard, as Rutgers students, you’re part of something big — the NCAA BIG 10 athletic conference. The BIG 10 brings with it elite competition, nationally televised games and academic scholarships. You might care deeply about the BIG 10 — or not at all. (It doesn’t matter to me how you feel about the BIG 10, except during basketball season. Then, if you don’t, we won’t have much to talk about!)
Being Big as a Christian
If you’re a Christian, however, being BIG means much more than a score — here On the Banks and potentially for all eternity. You might think, “Not me — I’m just a first-year or only a face to my professors or unable to get that girl or guy’s attention — nothing special. No one big.” I’ll say it nicely…you’re wrong.
The Bible gives us many examples of “no ones” who went on to do something big for God. Two come immediately to my mind, both young men not even at the college age: David, a lowly watcher of sheep, slayed the enemy giant Goliath on the first try with a smooth stone, and later, during Jesus’s earthly ministry, a small boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish miraculously fed thousands — with leftovers! Now that’s big!
God continues the practice of using ordinary people today; as Christians, we’re called to be living letters wherever we are and whatever we do. Here’s one example: A few years ago, my parents were traveling in Rome, and my mother became seriously ill — first with pneumonia, and then, a heart attack. My sisters and I decided someone needed to go to Rome, and it ended up being me. Only one problem — I have a terrible fear of flying, and because flight arrangements were made hastily, there were two legs to my journey: Newark to Charlotte, N.C., then Charlotte to Rome.
At the Newark airport, my husband Brendan went with me as far as he could. I approached the first security clearance red-eyed and with my hands shaking so badly I could barely retrieve my boarding pass. The security agent, a woman, looked at me stonefaced at first, then asked me what was wrong. I managed a weak response, and she said, “Can I pray for you?” And, in the midst of security clearance, she did. I don’t remember the agent’s name, but I will forever remember boarding both flights with the peace that passes all understanding. That was BIG.
How does this apply to being a Christian at the most awesome university in America? (I love my alma mater!) Take a page from David, the lunch boy and the airport security agent: Each of them used the resources they had, and each took a risk. If David failed with his slingshot, not only would his life be in danger, but the future of his people, too. On a lesser scale, but a risk all the same, the little boy risked going hungry and perhaps a scolding from his mom. As for the airport security agent, I still marvel that she risked her job for a total stranger.
At Rutgers, seek in your heart a willingness to let God use you in big ways. Let’s face it — Rutgers can be a lot of fun, the place where you make lifelong friends and embark on your dream career, but it can also be a lonely, challenging, disappointing and cold, scary place. Not just for you, but for others. Be open to opportunities to go BIG for God, especially those that carry risk. Will you stay true to your faith in the classroom…will you take time for a dormmate who is lonely or not well liked… how can you show kindness to a stranger? Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about being BIG for God….just the willingness to let Him work through you.
Here’s an expert tip from Paul on how to get through BIG times, as shared with the Colossians: “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. ” (The Message). As for me, I believe Rutgers is BIG, but God is BIGGER.
About the author
Sheila Noonan, the author of this post, is a Douglass College graduate, and has had a successful career in journalism and media. She and her husband, Brendan, also serve as leaders and advisers at ROC.