By: Trey Soto
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23.
Being new to college means new things. New friends, new teachers, and a new major. But one that is greatly common among college students is a new identity. High school is over and it is time to become known to the college world. But like myself, we forget where that our real identity is in Christ alone. Everything else is secondary.
When I was a freshman in college, I was great at many things and because of that, I got involved in many things. Missionary organizations, choir, you name it. One that was very important to me was writing for the school paper. I was and still am a freelance writer and although it was low pay, I managed. I wrote and published over five articles throughout the year, covering movie reviews and TV series’. I absolutely enjoyed my work. I put so much effort in my writing and enjoyed feedback from people. I was beginning to live the journalist dream. But sometimes your dreams can become your nightmares.
With the new school year came new management, since the staff the year before had graduated. The new staff was a little more picky and difficult to work with. I pitched my first article summary to them and they said I could give it a shot. This article was one I wrote twice last year, which was about T.V. series’ to watch and stay away from. But two days before the publishing, they contacted me and pulled the plug on my article, stating that it was something the student body didn’t need to be informed about. I became furious and offended on the in my heart. “I have been doing this for the past year” I thought, “and they think they can just cut it at the last minute?” As the year went on, I tried to work outside of the A&E section and work in opinions or features only to get denied every idea that I pitched to my editors. Total count: five. I became very discouraged and envious of other friends and students who were journalism majors. Many of them got an early start on their career as far back as high school when they worked for the school yearbook or paper. For me, I never had those opportunities and I felt that I had to catch up and be on the same page. But despite everything I did and achieved, I never found satisfaction for anything I did.
During this time of my life, I figured that my relationship with God was rock solid. I learned so much from my biblical courses, church, and I enjoyed studying apologetics. But I still felt uneasy in my heart. I met up with a church elder and close friend of my father to discuss what was going on. After I told him everything that was going on, he replied back with something I never expected. He said “Trey, seeing you growing up, you have been good at many things. But the one thing I’ve seen you struggle with is doing all those things at once.” And then these next words caught my ears and left me in silence. “You can be good at many things and not master any of them.” And then it hit me. I was becoming a seeker of attention and praise, and became an idolizer in my work. He then asked me “Are you trying to please somebody?” I replied back without question that I was trying to please myself. But then he asked me something I didn’t think he would ask. “Trey, between the two of us, are you trying to please your father?” I took a long pause, put my hand over my face, and began to tear up. He was right. Out of everyone I was trying to please, it was my father. I told him how I felt that if I failed a course, fell behind, or did anything short of excellence, my father would be disappointed and look down on me. Now, let me be clear that I have nothing against my father. He is a strong man in The Lord and a great provider for his family. But there was that sense of pride that I wanted to make dad more than just happy with me. I would lie so much about my grades to him, claiming that I was succeeding when really I was struggling. And then he said to me “The relationship you have with your father can greatly reflect the relationship with God.” And then it hit me even more. I was trying to please God based on the works I did without even going to God directly asking if it was what He wanted from me. In my own eyes, I thought I was doing the works of The Lord. But the sad fact was that I never asked Him about it. I just did it. I was focus on pleasing The Lord with my work when really He wanted my heart and attention. Not that works of The Lord are not important but God wants our heart over our works any day because if don’t have a heart in our works for Him, what good are our works?
Throughout the entire week, God continued to have people speak into my life about what was going on and it became almost annoying. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t focus on homework and I was like “God, I get what you’re trying to tell me here!” But His reply was, “No Trey, you don’t get it and you’re not going to unless you fully realize what I am trying to show you.” God was trying to make himself known to me and I was greatly overlooking it. After I prayed hard that night, I began to have more quiet time and make the Lord first priority. I talked to my father a week later about what was going on and he was more than gracious to me. “Trey,” he said “I can never be disappointed you being my son. You do not have to prove anything to me other than that you really doing your best for the glory of God in everything that you do for Him.” I began to cry, as I remained speechless. Since then, I have been putting the Lord at the center of everything I have done and have tried my best to refrain from trying to be the center of attention and worry about what others think of me. True or not, what people think of me doesn’t matter compared to what The Lord thinks of me: an adopted child of His.
I greatly encourage you, reader, to keep your identity in The Lord and not of worldly desires and desires of your heart. Ask yourself, “Where Am I with God?” Dig deep into his word and in everything you do, do for his glory. Grace to you.