Super and supreme

Several years ago, the fall after I had graduated high school, I packed up my stuff and headed to college.

My faith was growing as a high school senior, and I chose to attend Cedarville University, a Christian liberal arts college located between Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio. I believed God was directing me to a place where my faith could grow more. 

After the seven-hour trip to the campus, I arrived at the check-in center and was advised that I needed to meet with a representative from the financial aid office. I remember meeting with Steve just as vividly as though it happened yesterday. Steve said, "You can't be here. You can't afford this." All the air got sucked out of the room! 

Now this was no fault of Steve's. He was not some "meanie." On the contrary, I could tell that he did not want to break this news to me. But considering the fact that I had not earned any scholarships nor had I saved money, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Steve said, "I can't see how you are going to be able to pay the bill."

The tears came and after some pleading (I have been told that I can be persuasive!), Steve agreed to sign me on -- basically a one-term trial run. I was somehow, someway, to make the monthly payments, and if not, my "run" at college would be over.

That first week, I experienced a kind of darkness and self-defeat that is hard to articulate. It was one of the loneliest times up to that point in my life. There did not seem to be an answer to the great problem that I was facing. I hugely began to doubt the now-distant leading from the Lord to go. Fear filled my life.

Maybe you feel that way right now. It could be a relational problem -- maybe you are on the verge of divorce. It is a train wreck and there is no way out. It could be that your finances are running amok and you feel no certainty. It might be a severe level of dejection that you just can't put your finger on but you are empty. You feel like you are doing life completely alone, there is no one there, and consequently, it appears no one cares. What will you do? What is your answer? What is your hope? 

Trials, tribulations and difficulties can make or break one's faith. It is not pleasant to point this out, but the painful reality is your faith can be pulled out of socket by life's obstacles. But at the same time, difficulties can present a time to discover and trust who the Lord is and his power. 

The apostle Paul, in the book of Colossians, was writing to a group of people who were facing tough times and beginning to stray from faith in the Lord Jesus. Paul's response is, "Hey, wait a minute! Remember who the LORD is!" In Colossians 1:21-23, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." This is a lengthy and meaty statement of who Jesus is and what he has done. Jesus is super and supreme!

First of all, who is the Lord Jesus? Jesus is "the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation." Jesus is not your average Joe! Image means the exact representation (check out Hebrews 1:1-3). God "took on flesh." Super! "The firstborn" idea deals with not the beginning of his existence (Jesus did not begin as he is co-eternal with the Father) but expresses his "rank" in comparison to all else. Supreme!

What has Jesus done? What is on Jesus' resume? What are his honors and awards? 1. He has created all things. 2. In him all things hold together. 3. He is the head of the Church (originator and leader). 4. He is the firstborn among the dead (emphasizing his resurrection and the validation of his work on the cross). 5. He has reconciled all things to himself -- in other words, Jesus makes peace possible!

I do not know exactly when it happened, but at some point in that first term, I realized I had to entrust the situation and my life to the Lord. I revisited the prompting from the Lord to go to college and I began to believe that if God guided he would provide. And guess what? The Lord provided incredibly and in unexpected ways!

I have reflected back on that time at different points of my life, and while I do not fully understand all that Jesus is, I do know that he is super and supreme! 

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 9:30 a.m. Sundays at the Petoskey Cinema and 11 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. Beginning Sunday, June 3, Genesis Petoskey will meet 10 a.m. Sundays in the cafeteria building of North Central Michigan College, Petoskey. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.
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