In 1905, a young man from Chicago entered his freshmen year at Yale University. He looked like any other wide-eyed freshman trying to navigate his way through the chaos of his first year in college. But William Borden was unlike any of his fellow classmates. For starters, Borden came from an extremely wealthy family and entered college as the heir to a multi-million dollar fortune. His future was set. The American dream was in his grasp.
However, Borden’s aspirations would set the trajectory of his life in a completely different direction. Borden’s wallet was not the only thing that distinguished him from his classmates. His pursuit of Christ and his conviction for those around the world who had not heard about Christ placed him in a league of his own. One classmate wrote, “He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it.”
After graduation, Borden went on to attend Princeton Theological Seminary where his calling to reach the lost was further confirmed. Borden set sail for China where he would take the gospel to the Muslim Kansu people. But before he could reach his destination Borden contracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of 25. What a waste?
Or was it? In one of his journal entries Borden wrote these words: “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time.” As college students, there is an endless list of decisions to make. Should I accept this internship? Should I work that summer job? Should I take these summer classes? Should I go on this mission trip? The problem is often not in the options. Internships, jobs, classes, and mission trips are all good things.
The problem is in deciding, which of these good options is the best. The answer lies in Borden’s short but convicting journal entry. It’s hard to navigate these options when the culture around us says that our number one priority is to take the right classes, in order to get the best internship, so that we will get the right job. The answer seems obvious…“yes”. But are we saying “yes” to the right things?
Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and these things will be added to you” (emphasis mine). Seeking the kingdom of God means placing your “yes” on the table and trusting that God is sovereign and He will add the classes, the job, and the internship. It means saying “yes” to Jesus despite what the surrounding culture has pre-determined as the best course of action for your life.
And it means maybe…just maybe giving up one of your summers to participate in a summer missions project. Should you take that internship? Maybe. Should you enroll in summer class? It might not be a bad idea. Should you work? That’s not a bad option. It’s not a matter of never, but do you absolutely need the internship now or could it wait? Do you absolutely have to work or could you take some time off? Ultimately, I think City Project will give you a new lens in which to see all of life. It will help you to understand that life is not your story, but rather God’s story. Its understanding that your story fits into God’s story. How those two stories meet and interact is exactly what City Project is about. City Project will enable you to see your internship, job and school work differently. But whatever decision you make the question that cannot be avoided is who are you saying “yes” to? Are you seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness? My hope is that at the end of the day we can say along with William Borden, “no reserves, no retreats, no regrets.”
If you are looking to have the best summer of your life, applications for the City Project are still available. The City Project will give you the chance to see what God is doing in places like New York City, Peru, India, and Montreal. It will give you the chance to connect deeply with other students and the local church. And you will learn what it looks like to make a huge gospel-impact on your campus. Will you put your “yes” on the table and spend a summer growing as a follower of Jesus?