One of my favorite authors, J. R. R. Tolkien, wisely penned, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Following God’s voice and direction in your life can be intimidating. Growing up, stories of people like Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael, and those of missionary friends of the family made me scared of where God would lead me in life. Residing in a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania definitely lacked in hardship. I lived comfortably, raised by two loving Christian parents, adored by my older brother and sister, and surrounded by my closest friends at my Christian school and in church. The idea of one day leaving my quiet bubble to follow God’s will terrified me. To a socially awkward and shy kid in middle school, “God’s will” was an ominously ambiguous phrase. No thanks, I think I’ll do my own thing and carve out my own path.
Yet God has a habit of breaking the barriers of comfort and peacefully disregarding personal space when someone fully submits themselves to the road which He laid down for them to travel. At the start of my junior year of high school, God invaded the personal space of a fledgling youth pastor in Indiana, Mike Baker, uprooted his family, and moved them to my tiny kingdom in Pennsylvania. Mike and his spunky wife Karen would have the largest impact on my life outside of my immediate family. Up until that point, my understanding of Christianity ended before Jesus began. To me, Christians followed some rules, said a few prayers, and washed a cracker down with grape juice once a month in order to get into heaven. I had little understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice and what that daily meant for me. Mike and Karen introduced me to Jesus.
Finally understanding Christianity, I began to feel a call on my life towards dedicated ministry. In concept, the theory was great, but in practicality, it raised even more questions about college, finances, location, and a specific end goal. As my dad and I waded through the swamp of a seemingly endless amount of overpriced Christian colleges, it became clear that college was the start of a long road that ended up with me paying student loans for the rest of my life. After graduation, still with no college in mind, I decided to take a year off of school and work. But even as that year came to a close, I still didn’t know where to go and found myself taking a few general classes at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. I stuck out like a cracked egg in a fresh dozen.
During my first semester at Bloomsburg, I completely surrendered the college search to God. I was fed up trying to find the college I wanted to attend that probably didn’t exist anyway and resigned to let God pick the school for me. He did. Mike brought Eternity Bible College to my attention and after prayerful consideration and a confirmation from my friend Sam (the same Sam that also blogs on this site), I applied, got accepted, and prepared to move my entire life of 21 years across the country to Simi Valley, California.
It’s been a year since I said goodbye to my life in PA and started a new one in California. A year since I began attending Eternity. A year since I let God open a door and I timidly, dangerously, stepped outside. The past year at Eternity hasn’t been entirely easy. The college comes with a hefty work load that’s not for the faint of heart or lazy. Saying goodbye to my home in Pennsylvania held difficulties as well, especially as childhood friends I grew up with get married, move away, and start families. But I can easily say, without a doubt, that the move to California and my ongoing education at Eternity has been the single best decision I’ve made in my entire life apart from choosing Jesus. The relationships I’ve made, roots I’ve grown in church and different ministries, experiences I’ve shared, and places I’ve been are strengthening my faith and taking me to depths I’ve never been before. I’m beyond excited to see how God continues stretching and growing my faith in Him as I pursue a career in Christian education.
The door’s open. Take a step.
You can also check out my personal blog at http://aspiringtheologian.wordpress.com
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