As I hold my old student ID card in my hand, I’m reminded of a different path I could have taken. A different life. A different future. Most of all though, I’m grateful. I’m grateful my plans never came to fruition. I’m grateful for God’s will. I’m grateful He gave me His best.
You see, I wasn’t supposed to be at Covenant. I began the semester at Florida State University — a college I dreamed of attending for five years. Tallahassee was my hometown, and I had many friends there and at FSU. Plus, it was three hours from my current home, and I had in-state tuition and scholarships. When I moved into my dorm, I was ecstatic. But my few days at FSU were dark. I had a difficult rooming situation, a hard living environment, and was very disheartened by all the illicit behavior around me. I felt unsafe. I felt unwelcome. I felt so far from anything good. Five days later I moved into Covenant.
Now, I don’t want to make it sound like public state schools can’t be wonderful. I know many people, many strong Christians, who are thriving at secular colleges, and they are great lights to a dying world. They bring the love and heart of Jesus to a campus culture that is broken and hurting. However, this doesn’t mean that state universities are for everyone. FSU wasn’t for me, and God knew that in calling me here.
My fellow students…we’re at Covenant for a reason. God has called you to this place for a purpose, and in this season where we reflect on gratitude, I hope you’re grateful for our college.
I understand that most of you grew up in strong, Christian households. Many of you were homeschooled or attended private and/or Christian schools. Because of this, you went from one comfortable environment to another. You left a Christian community for another Christian community. Covenant is familiar, and this may breed great love or great contempt in your hearts.
While Covenant is familiar to me, I spent four days and three nights at FSU. My time there was short but impactful. When I arrived at Covenant, I was not your typical new student. My first days here were colored by what I knew I left. Sure, others in my class were happy to be on the mountain, but I think I was one of the happiest.
Our lives are full of seasons—seasons of joy and seasons of difficulty. But for me, these past months have been a joyful season filled with overwhelming gratitude. I find myself waking up grateful. I find myself walking around campus grateful. I find myself in class or at chapel or at dinner or with friends just… grateful. From the first morning I woke up in my room in Mac on Rowan, I was grateful.
My fellow students, do you realize how blessed we are to attend this college of ours? I know Covenant has its faults. I know everything’s not perfect here. It’s not perfect because we’re sinners. But this college — it’s beautiful. And these people — they’re beautiful. I am continually amazed that we attend a college that loves and magnifies the name of Jesus. I am near to tears when I realize that the hearts of Covenant students and faculty are directed towards recognizing the preeminence of Christ in all things. Never take this for granted. It’s so easy to despise “the Christian bubble.” It’s so easy to grow comfortable with the Gospel. It’s so easy to overlook our mandate to glorify God.
Life is full here, whether you think so or not. You have professors pointing you to Christ. You have classes centered on the beauty of God’s redemptive work. You have a college passionate about shepherding you and your fellow students. You have dear friends, godly men and women, to pray with you, fight with you, learn with you, laugh with you, and grow with you.
The people I’ve met here have become some of my dearest friends. To the women of Rowan, to the men of Suburbs, to my Cornerstone church family, to all the amazing friends I know from classes and around campus…I love you. I thank God for you. My life is so wonderful because you are beside me. To see your faces every day is one of my greatest joys.
Coming from FSU to Covenant, I rejoiced at the invitation to join a community of believers. I came from a community that had the wrong perspective on everything to a community whose life purpose, sense of reality, and hope of eternity was founded on Christ. What a blessed thing this is! When we raise our voices in chapel, when we pray before our classes, when we enjoy Prayer and Praise with our halls, I hope your eyes and hearts are open to see how blessed we are to worship the Lord together. I pray that just because Covenant’s values and worldview may be familiar, you’ll never take them for granted.
I pray you embrace your calling to live lives honoring to God. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re missing out on “the college experience.” I witnessed “the college experience” up close. I saw what it did to people—it broke hearts, it destroyed relationships, it ruined lives. Instead, as Christians and as Covenant students, we are called to serve a God who restores hearts, rebuilds relationships, and redeems lives.
Brothers and Sisters, this Thanksgiving be grateful for this college and for each other. On this mountain, we are not simply pursuing degrees. We are chasing after the presence of God. And best yet, God freely gives us His presence. And when God gives us His presence, He promises joy. And when we have God’s joy, we cannot help but lift our hands and hearts in praise. Praise God for Covenant! Praise God for you!