Updated: Jan 9
How do I keep Jesus at the centre when…
It took me a while to figure out what to write for this blog and I’ve come to the decision to write about how to keep Jesus at the centre in university/school. I’m going to tackle different questions that people might be asking themselves.
One of the first questions I thought of was how do I keep Jesus at the centre when I’m worried and stressed? This is a HUGE one, and one so many people struggle with. Jesus is the ultimate source of peace. And when we’re stressed or worried, that’s what we want, what we need. It’s important to remember that we don’t ask ‘where is Jesus when…’ because Jesus never leaves. Everything around us simply gets louder, gets cloudier, causing us to lose sight of Jesus. But He NEVER leaves. Back to the question though, how do we keep Jesus at the centre? I am currently reading a book called, ‘Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table’ by Louie Giglio and it is has really helped me to visualise Psalm 23, likely one of the most well known passages of the Bible.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Psalm 23:1-6 ESV
In particular, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Imagine that. The Good Shepherd wants to sit with us?? Giglio goes on to visualise the enemies surrounding this table, saying things about you that aren’t true, telling you there are better tables to sit at. But if you can visualise with me now as you read this. That Jesus is sitting across the table from you, giving you more than anything you could ever want or need. “My cup overflows.”
If you are struggling with worry or stress, TURN TO THE WORD. Otherwise, all you will hear are lies from the enemy. Lies telling you, “He’s probably thinking this about you”, “She probably hates you”, “You’re not good enough”, “They’re way better at this than you”, “Everyone is against me”. If these thoughts are in your head, as Giglio puts it, “the enemy is at your table”.
John 8:44 says, “… there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
This is JESUS speaking about the DEVIL. Who are you believing?
The next question is how do I keep Jesus at the centre when I want to drop out? I know so many people who contemplate dropping out of uni and school, myself included!! Last year I went through I don’t know how many phases of “this is not for me, I’m dropping out”. I remember the girls who I live with made a joke that every time you said you wanted to drop out, put a letter down on the drop-out application and then send it when it’s finished haha. But in all seriousness, it is such a tormenting thought to not know what to do with your life. And I could easily just say, “pray about it, God works all things for good”. WHICH IS TRUE! But it is one of the hardest things to comprehend.
I’ll give you an example of how I dealt with this situation. Before I sent my UCAS form, I originally wanted to study early childhood studies at Stranmillis, but I really felt God telling me to do something else. I believe fully that God told me to do post-primary RE at Stranmillis. Bit of a big difference there. From pre-school age to 11-18 year olds. I couldn’t think of anything worse but I fully believed this was a calling. And I trusted God with this and took all the other courses of my UCAS form and applied for post-primary RE. And I got in! But then in my first year, doubts started to creep in, thoughts like, “what if this is just a coincidence?, what if I was supposed to do early years? What if I’m disobeying God right now?”
A verse that got me through this is Deuteronomy 29:29, “the hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.” That was written in DEUTERONOMY. And God’s promises remain true. You can see that the whole way through the Bible, read Hebrews 11. And now, this year as I’ve started placement in a secondary school, I KNOW this is where God wants me. I know He’s given me this opportunity to share His love with young people and I am so glad I surrendered to Him when I did.
But practically, what can you do to keep Jesus at the centre during uncertainty? God works differently with everyone, but works for good for those who love Him. So, that is number one: Love God with your whole heart. If you’re not doing that… That’s the first thing that needs to change. Secondly, it’s cliché but foundational: read your Bible and pray. Adopt a routine of stillness and solitude. If you don’t incorporate that into your life, how do you expect to hear from God? Thirdly, BE WISE. And to be wise, simply follow the first two things I said. Proverbs 2 puts it perfectly so check that out!
My third question is how do I keep Jesus at the centre when I can’t make friends? This is a very difficult thing that so many people struggle with, especially when starting uni. If you’re a Christian, it is extremely important that you surround yourself with Christian people. You need to be around like-minded people. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “…bad company corrupts good morals”.
But this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Making friends requires a lot of effort and if you’re not willing to put in that effort, then you can’t expect to make strong connections with people. Friendship is a two-way street, if someone else is making the effort, you should too.
I really don’t want to come across really harsh with this, but the company you keep is extremely important to your spiritual growth and is something you should hold to a high standard.
Actually making friends is hard. It’s hard not to think about what others are thinking about you, but what should overpower that thought is, “what do I want people to see?”. Read Ephesians 4:20-32, it gives amazing guidance on how one should live. And if you live like this, people will recognise that and be attracted to that. And if they’re not, then that’s maybe not someone you want to be friends with!
To relate back to the question, keeping Jesus at the centre of searching for friendship is so important. You want Jesus to be the centre of every relationship so it will be fruitful and that the connections you make will build you up rather than bring you down. That requires a lot of self-reflection too. You need to look at your own life and become the friend you want to be. If you’re a Christian, abide in Christ to produce fruit and pour that into others’ lives. Pour God’s love into those who need it, exhibit self-control for those who lack it, share gentleness with those who are fragile, show peace to those who are unsettled, be kind to everyone even if they’re not kind back, and so much more!
Be the friend you want and need by imitating Jesus and He will provide for you.
There are more questions about keeping Jesus at the centre and maybe in the future I’ll do a part two. But overall, keeping Jesus at the centre of your life is the most crucial thing in the Christian life – and it will ultimately become the centre of every aspect of your life, your friendships, your emotions, your studies and your plan for your life. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”