Guys, its been a while… It probably seems like I’ve been a little bit absent lately and that’s because I have. But its ok, I haven’t disappeared, I’ve just gone to Uni and that’s what I want to tell you about. I felt like it was time to fill you all in on what’s been going on over the past few months where all has gone quite in the world of Jacob Lloyd… so here it is: the first of a series of fortnightly blog posts to come about things I have loved, loathed, laughed at and learned from at Uni so far…
Topic 1: Church
So for those of you that don’t know, I’m studying theology at Oxford University. I love my course, I’ve made some great friends and I’m part of an incredible church community at St Ebbes church, just a stone throw away from my college, Christ Church. However, this list of positive experiences has not necessarily been there from day one for one simple reason, I didn’t throw myself into church life.
I came to Oxford determined to get involved with the CU and find a great church, but after an overwhelming lack of CU presence in college and a seemingly overwhelming amount of work to do in my first term, I got to a position after about 3 or 4 weeks where I had only been to church once, I hadn’t settled into any kind of routine of regularly receiving scripture and church didn’t feel like a necessity that I was missing out on. This seems strange coming from someone who had grown up going to church week in week out, but I found myself with a worrying lack of urge to get up and head to church on a Sunday morning. I think I convinced myself that studying theology and occasionally going to our college cathedral to read during evensong was enough, but it really wasn’t and for some reason I couldn’t see that. In fact all I could see was a strange environment a long way from home, full of very different people than I was used too and a workload that felt like far more than I could handle. So I missed home, I missed my family, but I what I was really missing was a closeness with God that is very difficult to encounter without a constant refreshing and refilling of His word and His spirit, something that is hard to come by without attending church and being involved in a solid Christian community.
I would love to tell you things changed rapidly after the stresses of first term, but that would be a lie. Unlike most other degrees at Oxford, Theology students do exams in second term and so my workload that I had got used to and realized was far more manageable than I had told myself just got a whole lot bigger. Drastically trying to grasp translations of Biblical Greek, write essays and revise old essays at the same time took up the majority of my week and even though I was coping much better with my schedule, it still didn’t have time for church. I look back now and can’t comprehend what on earth was running through my mind and by what logic I rationalized my seemingly adamant belief that Church was not a necessity. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I was leading evening worship at a church outside of oxford a few times a term, or maybe because I was discussing my faith and entering into heavy theological debates on a regular with friends that somehow convinced me I was doing just fine without a sermon, but it all made no sense at all; because the process of realization that has lead to me throwing absolutely everything I have into church life has been one amazing lesson into just how important church is!
I’m happy to say that I now never miss church, as well as attending mid-week bible studies and I am also a college CU rep, which is amazing, because OICCU is awesome!! The difference I feel is incredible. I’m part of an amazing group of Christian friends; I thoroughly enjoy my time at the many church events that St Ebbes put on throughout the terms here and most importantly, my relationship with God has grown massively! I have found that this term I have been so much happier, a lot less stressed and in everyway it has been more enjoyable. I am fully convinced that all of this is solely down to my commitment to an amazing church, full of amazing people, there to serve an amazing God. Not only do I feel less alone in my faith and my evangelistic mission as a Christian, but also my spiritual life has burst into something far beyond my expectations. Studying the bible with friends, gaining insight into different interpretations of scripture and praying together as a church family are such essential things that you just can’t do when reading and praying alone. My love for the written word of God has just taken on a whole new level and I have found that my prayers are far less selfish and focused on others, just as I know I am constantly covered in prayer. In short, throwing myself into church has changed my experience of University totally and helped me fall deeper in love with the God that put me here.
So guys, wherever you are in the world and wherever you are in your walk with Christ, don’t underestimate the importance and the amazing power of Church. Church has changed my life more than once… but that story is for another day.
So I haven’t disappeared, I’ve just gone to Uni.