On Wednesday 16th May 2011 I awoke at 2:30 am, after completely failing to get any sleep at all because I was so excited, and prepared myself to hike up Dumyat, one of the Ochils (the mountain range right next to the Stirling University campus), with some of my friends to have sunrise worship on a mountaintop. Everything about that morning was a metaphor for my time at university and I’d like to take you through it. Some of you will think it’s super cheesy, but I’m okay with that.
First Year – Setting off the in dark.
It was pitch black when I left the chalet, as well as being really quiet and creepy. The hill that leads up to the university building from Spittal Hill is pretty scary in the dark and I almost ran up it, meeting a lone passer-by on my way. When me and my pals began the ascent it was no brighter and we found ourselves walking a darkened path at the back of halls, and making the decision to keep our torches turned off so our eyes could adjust. In first year I stepped out into the dark. I went somewhere new and scary and I was terrified the whole time. My gaze fell away from Jesus and the lights went out; it was like nothing I’d ever known before.
Second Year – The forest.
Eventually the sky started to brighten up a little and we found ourselves in the forest. It wasn’t too dense but it felt like we were constantly finding new twists and turns, speeding round corners and trying our best not to trip before we found our way out to a small, quiet country road. Second year was a really strange time; it was when I fell back into my old ways again but, soon after, decided I couldn’t like this this any more. After Christmas I started going to Bible study as soon as I got back; I found my small, quiet country road.
Third Year – The true ascent.
This was when things started to get interesting. We made our way off the road and on to the mountain itself. It was still reasonably dark, and I found myself out of breath a lot of the time. I got mucky feet and we met some interesting characters along the way (including a lone highland cow and some sheep). In third year I made more effort, I started to truly chase after Jesus, I got mucky feet and met some interesting characters (though they were more of the human variety). I got pretty out of breath but kept pushing.
Seventh semester (the second last one) – The final push.
My legs were aching, I thought I might collapse at times, I’m not sure I’ve ever sweat that much in Scotland… But at one point, before we reached the final hill, there was a break in the wall of rock that had stayed by me most of the way and I was able to see the beginning of the sunrise, shining a beautiful red, almost bubbling below the surface of the light blue above it. This kept me going. This semester was especially tough; I was lost again, unsure of what I wanted, pushing for things I couldn’t have. But the whole time I was surrounded by great people who encouraged me just by being themselves, even when others tried to drag me down.
Final Semester – The sunrise.
When the sun finally came up it was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen, and when we began to sing I was so full of joy. The sunlight was shining upon my home and I was seeing it in a way that I’d never seen before, from a place that I’d always looked upon but never had the strength or the passion to get to. This semester was truly beautiful and bright and joyful. From the ground, through life, I saw Stirling in a different way, I fell in love with it, and the light of God shone upon it in a whole new way. My heart became whole.
When this post publishes I will officially be a graduate of the University of Stirling; I will have set foot upon the campus as a student for the very last time. For some people university isn’t quite the grand/important occasion that it’s been for me, and I understand that, but the past four years of my life have changed me in ways I never imagined. I want to let you all know now that I plan to spend the next year working to save funds to go to Belfast Bible College. As much as I know I would’ve loved to study theology for my undergraduate degree, I would never have chosen anything over Stirling; God wouldn’t let me. I tried really hard but it wasn’t in His plan for me to do anything else. Had I not gone to Stirling I wouldn’t have realised my true need for Him and if I hadn’t discovered that then studying theology would be useless.
I would appreciate your prayers in finding a job and continuing to grow over the next year.
P.S. I promise to upload some photos from graduation later this week!