I'm a Fool For Christ! Whose Fool Are You? - May 9, 1995
When I first came to UNH, I was a fool. If you could have seen me (and some of you out there did), you would have collapsed laughing. There I was, an eighteen year-old freshman, excited, motivated, recently experimenting with puberty (I bloomed late), living away from my parents for the first time and learning what it was like to be free. I chased after every female who'd give me a second look (and sometimes only after one look). I tried to impress my teachers by always raising my hand and always sitting front-row center. I tried to impress people by being on hall council, by building a neat loft in my room, by learning the guitar, playing the stereo loud - you know- I was a fool!
Looking back, the thing that's funny is that I thought I was so free. I mean, I could do anything, chase after anyone, take any class, buy any cd; I was free! But was I? You see, it was easy for me to chase after all the women - I was too insecure not to. Does that make sense? I was so timid and afraid that I compensated for that by artificially pretending to be bold. I did a good job pretending, too. Psychologists call this a defense mechanism. I call it insecure. I can now tell the whole UNH community that I was a weak and insecure person, burying how I felt through my outward actions. I had to chase women, I had to play loud music, I had to buy the newest cd's; if I didn't, some of you may have found out how weak I was on the inside.
So I'll ask the question: was I free? Just because I was away from home and could do anything didn't mean I was free. I found myself bound tightly, not being able to do anything other than fit in and hope no one would probe my inside thoughts. I was deathly afraid of a committed relationship because if I got too intimate, the other person might find out how I really was. They might discover the real timid afraid weak me. I had to continue pretending. Was I free?
But I became free, and here's how. You see, a person needs to be worth something. And I felt on the inside that I wasn't worth anything. Maybe some of you can identify with this. But the most important thing I ever learned at UNH is not that Professor Sam Smith told me to have a balanced diet, nor is it that Professor Hollweg taught me how to measure the temperature on the sun in Astronomy class. These are good things, but the most impacting fact I've learned is that I could know God personally, like I know my R.A. or my best friend, and that I could do that through a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Am I a fool?
It's true, I have loved my classes and I'm psyched that I have a degree, but nothing compares to the greatness of knowing God. The Bible says that "grace and peace comes through the knowledge of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:2). The life I was experiencing before, the one I described, was a life without grace and without peace. I've learned that true freedom isn't just being able to do what you want; true freedom is having your heart at peace. The Bible says that peace comes through knowing God, and I believe that is true. Am I a fool?
I want to thank you for reading this far. I appreciate your willingness to hear me out. Let's talk just a little more. You see, we don't have to be trapped and bound by the pressures I've described above. A funny thing happened when I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I no longer needed to chase women. It used to be that if I hooked up, I was cool. If I didn't, I was a loser. But now it's not that way. My worth is not based on a physical relationship. I have worth because I know God and am known by him (never any strings attached).
You see, the worth of anything, whether it be a baseball card, a sofa, a car, anything, is based on how much someone is willing to pay for it. God was willing to pay for me by sending Jesus to die in my place. So, because of what Jesus did for me, I am worth everything in God's sight. And the great news is that he died for you too.
It's funny how much better God's plans for us are than our own. Now that I'm doing it God's way, he's changed my life. I can smile now without pretending. I can have joy now that's real, and not based on whether or not I have the newest Countin' Crows cd. I'm so excited about this that I'm willing to be a fool and tell you. God blesses me by giving me great conversations, good times, and lots of laughs. I've never experienced this type of freedom before.
As far as my insecurities are concerned, they're gone. You see, now I can be bold willingly because I love my father in heaven much much more than I fear UNH students thinking I'm a weirdo. You can think what you want, but your thoughts do not quench my freedom. It used to be that what others thought controlled me. I would constantly change and anxiously try new things to impress people, to establish my worth, but now I'm a fool for Christ, and there is value intrinsic in being a child of God; I'm free to live in peace. I'm a fool for Christ. Whose fool are you?
You see the choice is always yours. You can do it your way in the name of freedom, really being bound to others' opinions and the status quo, or you could step out in boldness and do it God's way. I suppose fear might stop you from giving your life to Christ, fear of what others might think. See, there's no freedom in that! Be free and choose God's route for your life. He has plans for you. He loves you, but love isn't some squishy-fuzzy feeling. Love is that while we ignored God and went our own way, he still sent Christ to die for us. Love is a giving word. Love does something. Love protects and love provides. Out of his love, God provided a way for us to know him, and he did it through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I sat down one day and invited Jesus into my heart. It took an invitation, because Jesus doesn't break down boundaries. He'll wait for you to make the first move. It starts with belief; belief that he has the power and desire to make you free. I've always liked the inscription on our library. Have you seen it? It reads, "know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Please don't take that without its context. That saying comes from the gospel of John, the 32nd verse of the eighth chapter. Jesus Christ said it of himself. He said that he was the truth, and that if you knew him, then you would be free.
So as I graduate and move on, I can say honestly that I walked with the Lord, and that is significant. I can say that when it all comes down, and everything is over, above all I else, I knew God and had a living relationship with him. There is nothing more valuable than that, and nothing more important to strive for. And the funny thing is that this treasure, this joy, this peace came despite my efforts. It's the gift of God, it's free! It's for all those who ask for it, and God is so willing to give it to you when you ask on his terms in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ. Please seek him out. He'll do all the work; and as a buddy of mine named Chris said once, we just have to "sit back, watch, and be amazed." God bless you and this campus. Good-bye.