“My two years at the Bible college were by far the worst two years of my life, and it isn’t even close.”
That statement is what I told this year’s Bible college class at the opening service to the school year. They all laughed, but it is true.
The theme for this year is “Refined by Fire,” based on Zechariah 13:9: “And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people;’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
The Lord says that he is the one who will put his people into the fire and refine them. He also tells them his purpose. He does this so that they will call upon his name. To what end? The Lord responds with a promise, “and I will answer them.” The Lord leads his people into the fire in order that he will answer them. They will be his people and he will be their God. That is what our God wants. God wants us to call out to him because he wants to answer.
In February of my senior year of high school, the Lord began to draw me close to himself. He gave me a hunger to know him, and I was growing in my faith. But then, just two weeks after graduation, the floor dropped out from under me.
I had a deep faith crisis where I did not know what I believed anymore, and it terrified me. Not only did I have questions of faith, but I had no peace with God. Where did I stand with God? I felt very alone, afraid, and uncertain of almost everything.
This was my condition when I arrived at the Bible college in the fall of 1992. Every day I was confronted with the realities of my uncertainty. There was no running from it. I had to face it head on. I asked question after question in class. I read my books and did my homework with an intense desire to understand faith. I needed answers!
In the beginning, it seemed hopeless. I was so confused. It seemed impossible to put my mind back together. I would cry out to God and ask if he was there, and if so, why wouldn’t he help me?
While all this was going on, I told no one. To everyone else, it probably looked like life was going well for me. But inside, I was a mess. Slowly, like a lump of raw ore refined in a fire, he was burning away what was harmful. He was showing me the depth of my sinful heart and my inability to help myself. He was showing me the futility of life outside of Christ so that once I saw Christ, he was the only thing of value to me. He showed me that he loved me, and that even though he may take me into the fire, he would not leave me there unattended. He cares for me there, too.
The Lord answered my questions and reestablished me again, but this time on firmer soil. When I spoke at the opening service this year, I told the students that I don’t know why they decided to come. Some of them may have come with deep wounds. There is reason to hope. Although my two years at FLBC were the hardest two years of my life, I also wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world. I was refined by the one who loves me, and
I was never the same again.
Jeremy Larson [FLBC Director of Discipleship], is a 1994 graduate of FLBC. From Fargo, N.D., he is in his first year at FLS.
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