Spiritual Growth: Don’t Try This Alone

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You might be the closest thing to the Gospel that someone in your life ever has. I remember hearing one of our speakers at College Conference East say these words and being shaken to my core. Later, I would actually hear two more speakers make nearly the same statement, using slightly different language. I remember feeling so much pressure in that moment, thinking: Me? Why me? I am far from perfect. How could I, a college student with more questions than answers, bring others to the Gospel?

But after giving it a little more thought, I realized that I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if it were not for the people in my life who humbly followed the Gospel and its teachings. They are the reason that I consider myself a Christian today.

via Jim Forest on flickr

Although it might feel this way at times, being an example of the Gospel to others isn’t something that should be a burden for us, but rather it should stem from the joy that we feel when we are in a relationship with our loving Creator. Now don’t take this the wrong way: being a representative of the Gospel doesn’t necessarily mean that we should march around campus with brightly coloured posters and a megaphone. I don’t know how God works through others in each and every person’s life, but I can give you an example of how He’s worked through others in mine.

I have this one friend, and even though we do not talk very much, he always seems to be there with a smile and a friendly word in the moments that I need them. Has this situation ever happened to you, where someone appears in your life seemingly out of nowhere just at the moment you really needed them? We all have such a powerful way we can touch others. The more I think about it the more I struggle to comprehend it, but at the same time it gives me a lot of peace. Some people say these profound relationships we have with others are fate, but I believe it’s Christ working through others to share His love.

There’s this quote by Saint Seraphim of Sarov that many of us have heard before:

Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.

 – Tweet this!

God works through others in mysterious ways, just like my friend who was always so kind to me without knowing that I needed to talk to someone. The key to God working through you is that you open yourself to Him first.

Guys, this is part of the reason why OCF is so important. This community, where young people all experiencing the same struggles meet together with the common goal of growing in love for Christ and His Church, is an incredible thing. I’m closer to the Church because I hang out with people my age on my campus that try to live with the same purpose that I do.  

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to sell a relationship with God to you like some sort of self-help book, or as a guide in your philanthropic work. I can just picture a blog entry with the following title: Just Follow God and You will Save Your Campus/City/ This Very Broken World. No, obviously there is nothing wrong with wanting to help others (put others first, obviously) or self-improvement plans (also great, there was a fantastic blog post written about this a few weeks ago).

I think the best way I could sum up everything I’m trying to say is with something I first heard at CrossRoad a few summers ago: the closer you get to God, the closer He will bring you to others. The closer you get to others, the closer you get to God. As we begin our new semesters this January, let’s all, myself included, try to keep our hearts open to God and to the people He’s placed in our lives.


Anastasia Lysack in her third year of her Music degree at the University of Ottawa. She attends Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Ottawa, where she teaches Sunday School and sings in the choir. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, volunteering, and visiting just about any coffee shop in the city of Ottawa.

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