College Days

I began my studies at Stanford University in the Fall of 1979. I was 18 years old.

That first year at Stanford was exciting and life-changing. I was constantly surrounded by both teachers and students who were, putting it simply, brilliant. There was the premed surfer from Orange County, California. There was the space-camp summer scientist majoring in physics. There was the Hawaiian dancer girl who grew up in rural Hawaii, on the “Big Island,” and whose parents were missionaries there. I could go on and on.  Spending too much time thinking about how brilliant my friends and teachers were causing self-doubt because it is only natural that you ask yourself: “what am I doing here with these people?”
I was in a veritable cafeteria of learning experiences, with no limits or bounds. I think Heaven will be something like attending Stanford, except for the political and politically correct stuff.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone else, I found my personal prayer and Bible study habits first wavered and then withered. My efforts to continue in personal fellowship with Christ first began to fail.

Having no car, I was unable to drive myself to church and relied only on the occasional chance to ride with someone else to the driver’s church. This way I visited Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and Peninsula Bible Church (where Ray Stedman was) but because of transportation difficulties was not able to become very active in either. From attending church several times-a- week in high school, I found myself doing well to attend church once per month.

I did get pretty involved in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and also a small organization on campus called the Christian Studies Association (which made me its president). I attended and led on-campus Bible studies, attempted to witness to my dorm mates, and went on retreats.

It was no surprise that outside of the Christian groups, such activities did not win me a lot of friends on campus. I began to feel lonely. Living in dormitories surrounded by non-Christians, I began to want to have more friends, to be more “normal” and not to be such an outsider.

As a sign of things to come, I was asked to be the leader of the InterVarsity chapter at Stanford, but I turned it down because I was concerned the time commitment would adversely affect my grade point average.

                My Thoughts and Theories.

As you would expect, being far from home, unaccountable and surrounded by temptations of the flesh never experienced by me up to that time, I began a period of cycles of sin, guilt, repentance and then sin again, repeatedly in a seemingly endless cycle. A cycle which fatigued my will and soul.

A big part of my problem was guilt. Before I really turned my back on God calling for my life, I’d been on a seemingly endless cycle of sin followed by repentance followed by growth followed by sin followed by repentance. An even larger part of my turning away was that I was just plain tired, exhausted, ready to quit, feeling defeated. I’d hoped God would have used me like Joseph or Calvin or Spurgeon or something, but I was a spiritual failure.

Perhaps if I had returned to any good church where I was reconnected with the fellowship of fellow believers, I might have returned to him sooner. But I was cut off and far away from all my Christian friends and mentors. And no one held me accountable, rebuked me or disciplined me. Accordingly, I strayed further away during those subsequent years and as a result, my heart just got harder and harder.

If it came to defending the faith, arguing evolution vs. creation or any number of other things, I was thoroughly and adequately prepared. No professor or seminar class was my undoing. On the contrary, in classrooms, I regularly spoke out defending my faith and I felt no fear of the non-Christian intellectual academic citadel.

You can prepare your children to face attacks from non-Christian worldviews, but if they’re not prepared to deal with sin, there’s going to be a problem. I don’t mean just being able to resist sin all the time. Sooner or later they’re going to sin, but how will they deal with the consequences and the aftermath of sin?

But I should have known better. God gave me a long leash and there was no fire and brimstone because God relates to his children as their father, not as their judge.