By Esther Park
The Tuesday before my first college finals, I found myself in a crisis: a draft of a 10 page final paper for one of my classes was due the next day and I hadn’t started or thought about it at all. I had known about this paper from the very beginning of the semester; it was constantly lurking at the back of my brain and I had planned to finish the draft during Thanksgiving break, but my plan failed. I kept putting it off until the very last moment possible, and now it was due the next day.
Tuesdays at 7:30 PM were also when I attended weekly prayer meetings. I went every week with my spiritual companions, two other freshmen that I ate with, studied with, and hung out with almost everyday. Towards the end of high school, I had become a little distant from God, and although I attended Sunday meetings and Saturday youth groups regularly, I felt like I was just going through the motions, partly because it was expected of me. But during my first semester of college, my companions accompanied me to all the church meetings, Bible studies, small group meetings, game nights, and even meals with those in the Christian community.
However, this Tuesday night I was planning on skipping the prayer meeting to finish the draft of the paper. I felt really bad about it, but I decided that the paper was more pressing. All I had for my paper was the topic, which I had chosen during the car ride back to campus after break. Upon starting my research, I realized that the topic I had chosen, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was actually much more complicated than I initially expected, with many archaeologists and experts speculating about its elusive existence and location. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish before the prayer meeting and that I would have to miss the meeting that evening. I didn’t really want to miss the meeting either, but my anxiety about the draft, about every minute that seemed to fly past, each quicker than the last, and about my unshakeable procrastination and its consequences, caused me to decide for sure that I couldn’t go: I told my companion that I couldn’t go to the prayer meeting that night, but she would not let me off the hook so easily. She told me the meeting wouldn’t take so long, that the Lord would honor the time I gave to be in the meeting, and that after the meeting she would stay up with me while I wrote the paper.
Reluctantly, I decided to go to the prayer meeting (which I later knew was the right decision because I felt peace and rest in my spirit). Afterwards, we went straight to the library where I started my draft. I spent a very long time writing. It was way past midnight, and although I told my companion that I could finish by myself and that she could go back to the dorms, she kept insisting on staying with me until I finished, even falling asleep while waiting for me to finish. I finally finished around 3:30 AM and woke my sleeping companion up, after which we walked back to the dorm together. This really touched me. The fact that my companion would actually stay up with me just so I could go to a meeting and enjoy the Lord, even dozing off while waiting for me to finish my paper, touched me so much. I felt my companion genuinely cared for me and even went out of her way to do so.
I realized that this is what I was missing before coming to college: companions with whom I could pursue the Lord with, not just once a week, but daily. “Going to church” was no longer just a formal, weekly or biweekly event; I was now living a day-to-day church life.
I once heard some really good guidance from someone concerning the difference between a friend and a companion, which really helped me. He said that if I’m not able to pray with a friend or open up to them about my spiritual condition, then they are merely a friend, not a companion. This is the difference between a spiritual companion and a friend: a spiritual companion is someone who encourages and strengthens me to go on in the Lord, who helps me to grow and mature spiritually, and who runs after the Lord with me.
I am thankful to have gained two companions that I can pursue the Lord with. Even when we’re doing homework, studying together, or procrastinating, I have a comforting sense of life and peace (Romans 8:2). My companions and I pray for one another’s burdens. They hold me accountable: there are a lot of times when I don’t feel like going to a church gathering because I have a lot of homework or because I feel like I’m too tired. However, my companions strengthen me to keep pursuing after Christ. Since we all are freshmen in college, they’re in the same situation as me and can understand the things that I stress or worry about. I know I can always fellowship with them about my problems, sing Christian songs in the dorms together, and study the Bible with them.
Just as Daniel had his three companions, we also need spiritual companions in the Lord to flee from temptations in the world. Second Timothy 2:22 says, “But flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Our companions are “those who call on the Lord out of pure heart.” Ecclesiastes 4:12, says, “And while a man may prevail against the one, the two will withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” By ourselves, we are too weak to withstand the enemy, but “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” When problems and difficult situations arise, our companions help to support us when we fall.
Whereas before, my daily life and my church life felt like two separate lives, I feel like now it is one life – the church life is my life. It’s hard to go on in the church life by myself, but with the right companions, I can pursue the Lord and flee from the enemy and his temptations. May the Lord give each of us a spiritual companion, to ground us in the church life, to encourage us, and to go on with us in the Lord.
About the authorEsther is a freshmen at UIUC. This semester, she hopes to enjoy the Lord even more than the last.