rebelling against low expectations

College Applications: If God Is For Us, Who Can Be Against?


My coffee cup sits amidst a white cloud of college envelopes, envelopes which are much more than just mail to be sifted through.

Each one added to the pile is blaring a message:

  • Come here; our campus is the most gorgeous!
  • Want to travel and discover the world? Our college is for you!
  • Big dreams. Big opportunities. Schedule a visit and explore your future today.

Some even dare to get flashy:

  • You’ve been chosen!
  • Your accomplishments really make you stand out from the crowd.
  • We’re proud of you.

Regardless of the marketing scheme, these messages on envelopes manage to stir something deep within.

Each one added to the pile is emitting a whisper.

You are getting close to finishing high school; what are you really going to devote your life to? The world is a competitive place; do you actually have something to offer?

The whispers swirl within, continually invading deeper spaces.

What if I completely screw up and miss God’s plan?

Am I anything special?

Will dreams ever be realized?

What does it even feel like to dream with abandon again?

One touches the core in an immobilizing intimidation:

What if I’m heading in the wrong direction?


Fear is like a cold and thin plastic bag which, placed over our heads, suffocates and confuses, for it lets in enough light and allows vision to be just clear enough that we almost believe what we see is unclouded reality.

Doubt is like a sticky substance thinly-coated over fingers which allows us to touch, create, and accomplish but not to the best of our ability as we can never have full contact.

The suffocating view through fear’s lens and the hindering doubt entangle so easily.

God, can You be trusted?

Lord, what does total surrender really mean?

As the college envelopes keep coming, I am kept continually reminded of how small and fleeting our one existence on this life is.

One chance – to heal wounds, to warm hearts, and to fight battles. One chance – to seek God’s face while He may be found.

We cannot know the future. Sometimes, it seems impossible to even know our next step, at that. But, we are not the one in charge of this grand story of God’s glory, are we?

A man plans in his heart, but the LORD determines His steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Our Abba has given us not only a light unto our path, but also a lamp unto our feet. It’s far too easy to get caught up in wishing for the light to illuminate our whole path that we are not content with what’s in the lamplight here and now.

No, we may not know every step of our lives, but we do know what is ultimately in the light of our life’s journey: to know God and to make Him known.

And, here in the lamplight, there is glory and peace unbounded. Reaching those with whom our paths coincide with love overflowing, dancing in our Abba’s presence, and doing that which he has for us in every step the lamplight reveals next.

The path may be unlit.

Our own insufficient knowledge and control over our own lives may be frustrating.

But if we are always waiting for complete light, we will never learn what it is like to be a wholehearted follower of our Savior.

When we trust our Maker with our lives —
that His plan is greater than any we could create for ourselves,
that his love is deep enough to hold us ever step of the way,
that He is working in wonderful and mysterious ways no matter what we see and feel,
that He will never leave…

When we surrender all that we are — our dreams, our hopes, our fears, doubts, and failures…

we. are. freed.

Through a trust that shouts — God is good — and a surrender that sings — God is greater —
even when the whispers are escalating and the way is so, so dark…

we. are. freed.

to discover that there is such joy in the lamplight.

When all we can see is His face, we learn a beautiful dependence and intimacy with the King; the only one who will remain no matter where the light leads.

Though our vision may be slight, our God is the author of light. With our heart in His hands our joy found in surrendering to His plans…

we. are. freed.

Though our hearts may bleed, our hearts can cry in trust: O Lord, you can have everything; in surrender: O Lord, I am Yours for anything.

Although the white cloud of envelopes still awaits, of this I can be certain:

If our God is for us, who can be against?

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Photo courtesy of Chris Beckers and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Deborah Spooner

- a college student and pastor’s kid - is a city loving and avocado eating cultural enthusiast, creative, and dreamer who is addicted to dipping words in candor as she writes for her blog Hope Shining. Her hope is anchored to a man who came to earth around 2,000 years ago – Jesus of Nazareth – and she just wants to know Him and make Him known.


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    • I am so thankful that you enjoyed it! The freedom of trusting surrender and obedience is simply wonderful. It’s definitely a uniquely powerful way of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good!

      • “Even thought i walk though [a pile of college letters (AKA the shadow of death)] the Lord will be with me. His rod and staff, they confort me.”

        At least that is what my mom says.

  • Great article, Deborah! I love how you acknowledge that God is good, great and has a plan that will ultimately bring the most good. 🙂 Your analogies/word pictures were beautiful (like fear being a plastic bag).

  • wow thats so cool. “When we trust our Maker with our lives —that His plan is greater than any we could create for ourselves,
    that his love is deep enough to hold us ever step of the way,
    that He is working in wonderful and mysterious ways no matter what we see and feel,
    that He will never leave…” i just recently rolled my car and i have to delibratly not let myself be fearful as i have had two brothers killed in a car accident as well. really like the tho our hearts may bleed our hearts can cry in trust. really good stuff there thanx!

    • Thank you so much for commenting! I am so sorry for the devastation you’ve experienced concerning your brothers and for your recent car rolling. Life can bring such pain sometimes, and fear can be so real. I’m truly sorry at what you’ve experienced, and I will be praying for protection for you, that you will keep gaining more and more trust, and that you’ll be brought closer to the King. (2 Timothy 1:7 has some good truth about fear, too).

  • So many Bible verses come to mind when thinking about this article. I love it so much and can relate so well to it.
    As a person sort of caught in the in between, knowing what I am called to and not knowing how to start, the intimidation is something I’ve definitely been through.
    The insecurity of not knowing while struggling with doubt and indecision, longing for God to better illumine your path, while still clinging to assurance of His sovereign hand over me. 🙂
    I thank you so much for this. With a calling heavy on my heart, one that is so far beyond me unless I lean completely on God, I’ve recently been pretty discouraged. God has been again reminding me of His ability to equip and empower His servant to do as He has planned.
    Praise be to Him, for He is always with us. God bless.

    • Thank you so much for commenting, Sadie. I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it and are able to relate! That is so awesome that you have sensed God’s call on your life and that you are pursuing God’s heart in carrying it out (even if it seems daunting and can be discouraging, too.) Way to be open to His plans for you and willing to follow even if it’s hard. Seriously, that is such a beautiful combination. I will be praying for you, that God will strengthen you and give you clear guidance. I’ve, too, personally struggled with discouragement and hopelessness at how much need there is while trying to discern the place God has for me in it and the road He wants me to take. Life can be both so challenging and exciting at the same time. Don’t lose faith or give up hope, Sadie. Our God is good!

      • Thank you so much for your prayers, Deborah, it means so much to me. I will likewise be trying to pray for you that you know God’s will and leading for your life, as well. I am certain He has a wonderful plan for you. Keep up the good fight, don’t let the intimidation win! ;D

  • This is so great, Deborah! Thank you so much for writing!! Happened to read this while I was struggling with some anxiety, and this was definitely a comfort to me. God has used this article in my life and I’m so thankful! 🙂

    • Maitlyn, I am so blessed that this article was used in your life! Anxiety can be a really overwhelming feeling, but it is such a reassurance to know that we serve a big God. He is so good!!

  • Thank you so much, I struggle with fear about the future, I want to know exactly what’s going to happen, but thank you for helping me remember that I can trust the One who’s in control, and who can handle it a lot better than I can.

    • Hi Emma! Yes, our God is so faithful and totally worthy of our trust! Even though it’s sometimes difficult to trust Him and we can tend to pull away from surrender, He’s in control. What freedom that can bring if we choose to live in it! I will be praying for you! God bless.

  • Deborah, thank you so much for sharing this. I have looked at many colleges, but it can be overwhelming. I know what I want to do, but what I want might be different from what God wants me to do. This has been very encouraging to me. Thank you so much!

    • Hey Abby! I totally agree with you; this season of life can feel so overwhelming. It is so important to keep seeking God’s will, and trying our best to discern what is our own feelings and what is God’s leading. Even though the overwhelming-ness of it all can seem daunting, it is so good to know that our God is faithful (Deut. 7:8). My prayer is that we would grow through this season while learning to enjoy the wonderful beauty it does hold as we learn to surrender. God bless!

  • Deborah, thank you so much for the encouragement that you give in this. What I fear the most is that I may be pouring out to pursue a goal that isn’t Jesus’ goals for me. I’m an incoming senior and will be completing my second year of the IB Diploma program and I’m quite terrified of returning to the overwhelming mountain of work and putting that at first priority instead of my alone time with Jesus. Any tips on keeping with devotionals with a heavy work load? If there are any IB students out there I’d love to talk to you. Its really hard to be a Christian in the IB program

rebelling against low expectations

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