04 Jul I Am Seated
People often ask me how I ended up moving from California to attend Elon University in North Carolina, which is complicated enough to explain. But that question is quickly followed with another about how I ended up getting involved with City Project at The Summit Church. I tell them that it’s plain and simple – it was a God thing. The unpredictability of my story has shown me that God really is the only one who knows how the puzzle pieces of my life will fit together.
Every summer since I’ve been in college, I’ve gone home to the sunshine state to be with family and friends, but I knew that this summer would have to be different. As a free spirit, my nine to five internship last summer just didn’t quite cut it. As I went through the motions of my junior year at Elon, the Holy Spirit kept giving me the desire to learn more about Jesus and who I am in Him. When I would pray and ask God where He wanted me this summer, I didn’t understand what I was asking of Him and what I was getting myself into. Saying that I have learned more about God through City Project would be a huge understatement.
My freshman year of college, I got involved with a Christian organization and was introduced to Jesus for the first time. When I saw this community loving each other and having the pure joy of Jesus I had never seen before, I was completely drawn to it. But because of my attraction to the community, I missed the Gospel. People were showing me Jesus’s love and telling me all about it constantly, but I was the soil among thorns, all wrapped up in my own mess of freshman year. The Parable of the Sower in Luke 8 says,
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path…other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.”
I heard the Gospel so many times, but the struggles and thorns of college would choke it out from ringing true in my heart. I was hardened toward the word, even though I thought I understood everything about Christianity because I knew the things I was supposed to do as a Christian. Going through the motions without knowing the truth of the Gospel in my heart meant that whenever I fell short, I didn’t understand grace, but then I did “good” things, I would get the glory rather than God. Even though my understanding of the Gospel was distorted, I kept on living the Christian lifestyle as best I could.
On the first day of City Project, I felt that this summer was going to be challenging. As orientation continued, that feeling kept getting stronger. The Gospel was preached multiple times in many different ways, and as hard as it was to admit to myself, the Holy Spirit kept pushing me more toward the realization that I did not understand the Gospel. I knew stories about Jesus, I knew what sin was, and I knew I had a need for Jesus, but I still hadn’t grasped the good news of the Gospel. It really scared me to finally confess this and repent because this made my sin come to life in a way I had never experienced. At one of the talks at orientation week, we were pointed to Ephesians 2 where Paul says,
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”
I kept praying those verses back to God and asking Him to soften my heart, and He did just that. Because He is rich in mercy and love, the truth finally hit me. He showed me that because Jesus lived a perfect life and died in my place for my sin at the cross, there is absolutely nothing I can do or say to make God love me more. It’s amazing that The Lord has given me new eyes each day to see the Gospel in different, beautiful ways through the experiences and community I am immersed in with City Project.
Now I am truly seated with God: in His grace, His love, and His presence. In my sin and brokenness, God wants me to truly know Him and rest in the gospel with no strings attached. I’m so thankful that this is why He led me all the way from California to North Carolina and to be part of City Project.
Sarah Hoppe is a City Project participant and a rising senior at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina.