Deciding what do after graduating high school tends to get a lot of attention for how stressful it is, but I want to take a step away from that. With a simple perspective shift, I would like to share how amazing the opportunity is to be obedient to God concerning the future, and follow Jesus into the unknown. “Do not fear” is the most commonly repeated Biblical command, because fear attacks our foundation as Christians: Faith! Fear and faith work against each other. Now, I know that we are also commanded to fear God, but there are two different types of fear. One is the fear of the Lord, which is awe and reverence towards God that causes us to love what He loves and hate what He hates (Prov. 8:13). The second is a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), and this comes from the demonic realm which attacks faith and attempts to quench what God desires to do in our lives. We know that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for..” (Heb. 11:1), “Faith works through love..” (Gal. 5:6), and “Perfect love casts out fear..” (1 John 4:18). Paul writes to the Corinthian church, exhorting them to “abide in faith, hope, and love”, and fear works to destroy the very three things Paul tells us to abide in. My point? Fear is not your friend!
What I have briefly shared with you so far is what the Holy Spirit began to teach me during my junior and senior years of high school. True faith is rooted in pleasing God (Heb. 11:5-6), and the opposite of that is pleasing man at the expense of pleasing God. This is known as the “fear of man” (Proverbs 29:25). Leonard Ravenhill puts it best: “If you have the smile of God, who cares if you have the frown of man, but if you have the frown of God, who cares if you have the smile of man”.
So when it came time to choose my school, I had a decision to make. Were comfort-seeking and fear going to hold me back from risk-taking faith with the Faithful One? Was I going to let what people said and thought about me keep me from the call of God on my life?
Fearful Gideon turned into a “mighty man of valor” and led 300 men into battle against the Midianites that had men “as the sand by the seashore in multitude”. That’s a risk! But trusting God often means letting go of trusting ourselves (2 Cor. 1:9). Gideon won the battle with all odds stacked against him, because he pushed past fear, and learned what it meant to have risk-taking faith in a God who is completely reliable. When we as Christians begin to take risks of faith, God becomes more than just our “doctrine”, we receive revelation of Him as our father. He’s real. He’s involved. He’s pleased with faith.
Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is a school no one I knew had really heard of. It is not accredited, and is not the typical 4-year university that many around me were expecting me to go to. It’s not at all a school I was interested in, or had even heard of until Jesus gave me a brand new life and I was born again. I had offers to play college basketball and had many schools I was able to go to that “on paper” may have seemed like better options. I believe I heard God’s call on my life multiple times. I would hear God speak to me when I was alone with Him, other times through friends when I was around believers my age, and at times when I was around older pastoral leaders in my life – all confirming the same thing. As I looked into BSSM and read their vision statement for raising up revivalists to impact the world for Jesus, I knew in my spirit that it was the place for me. God had revealed the place He wanted me to go! I was so confident that BSSM was where He wanted me that I didn’t apply to any other schools, and I didn’t even take the SAT/ACT (that may be perceived as irresponsible, but one day we’ll find out what God thought about it, and I’m excited for that day).
In Matthew 14, Jesus walks on water out to the disciples. All twelve disciples had the same opportunity Peter did, but only Peter walked on water. Peter took the risk, and was empowered to do the impossible.
Although all that took place greatly impacted my college decision, it became far greater than a one-time decision. God started renewing my mind to a lifestyle of faith, risk, and trust in Him.
All this to say, I learned to never let fear set the agenda. I learned to tenaciously pursue obedience to the Word of God, and the plan of God. I learned that courage is not the absence of “feeling fear”. Fear is temptation, and courage tells fear to be quiet. Courage never lets fear have a bigger voice than God’s voice. I agree with Paul when he counts everything else a loss for the excellence of a relationship with Jesus. At the end of the day, all I want is Him. I will never let fear keep me from my pursuit of Him and His plan for me. BSSM was just the next step God had for me in my pursuit of Him. As Kris Vallotton says, “The dogs of doom often stand at the door of destiny”.
-John Maura, HCA class of 2017
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