I come from a long line of Manhattan, KS fanatics. I grew up in the stands of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and from a young age, had the route from Wichita to Manhattan memorized. K-State is the only college I applied to, and in about a year when I graduate, I hope to stick around here for a little while. While I love this city and my life here, every time I go home for the weekend, it never gets easier to leave. As I hug my siblings and parents and new puppy, with a few tears welling in my eyes, part of me wants to stay. Part of me dreads the drive that I have done hundreds of times. Part of me wishes I didn’t go back and forth between two places I call home. Yet, I make that familiar drive, I unpack all my things, and I settle in.
While reflecting on these things during my most recent drive back to Manhattan, I realized that my circumstances have been shared by Jesus. He, too, went back and forth between two places He could call home. He started in His heavenly home, where He would hug his Father, where He would feel loved, where He would be filled. Then, He was sent. Sent to an earthly home where He knew there was work to be done - work that wasn’t always easy and work that brought Him to the Agony in the Garden. Yet, He made the drive, unpacked His things, and settled in.
We can imagine that this wasn’t always an easy process for our Lord. He knew that He was going to take his friends on a wild ride. The Apostles and disciples gave their lives up for Jesus, only to watch Him die, and have him come back three days later. In their joy of His return, they were unaware of his future Ascension into Heaven, where they would not see Him until the end of their own earthly life. In Jesus’ humanity, I imagine Him growing in emotional maturity through these situations; having to go back and forth from different homes and different friends. This image is something that I strongly identify with as a college student.
When I think of Advent, childhood memories of fighting over who got to light the Advent wreath candles (and, of course, who got to blow them out) come flooding in. We would always make wishlists and bake cookies with our grandma. My brother and I would try and sneak into my mom’s office to possibly get a peek at our gifts. These are realistic expectations for a child’s mind during this season, but what are realistic expectations for a college student’s mind during this season? Growing older, the month of December became associated more so with tests and final projects before leaving school for break. While our education and studies are valuable and can bear virtue, we must remember that we should not still be thinking and reasoning like children. As we finish our classes, say goodbye to our friends and our homes away from home, it is true that Jesus is still coming and we must still find ways to prepare. We have been given minds that are constantly growing and developing and receiving intellect from the Lord. How should we use this gift to dive deeper into the season of Advent?
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus making His entrance into our earthly home, we must make room. We must put aside childish thoughts of material things, which as college students, could be counted as social events, status, or even our studies. I write this to you as someone who does not always make the room for Jesus that I know He deserves. For a lot of us, prayer looks different in our college community than it does when we are back home. While knowing this and longing to grow in my own life in this way, I would like to call on part of a song titled, “Make Room”, by Casting Crowns, that is a perfect song for the season of Advent.
“Is there room in your heart
for God to write His story
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory”
We are called, in this season, to ask ourselves if there is room in our hearts for Jesus’ coming. This season is one of preparation for the joy to come.
Grace Leonard is a junior studying Secondary Education and Social Studies. She feels deeply, is passionate about music, and is inspired by the irreplaceable-ness of every human person. Click here to find her blog & musical outlets.