Amy Penner : Columbia Bible College

In my time at Columbia I could never have predicted how much I would learn, grow, be broken, restored, and experience the love that I have from my Jesus and all the people at Columbia. My first year entering into Columbia I expected to be stretched but I did not expect to be stretched as far, as deep, and wide as I was. I did the Quest program which is a program not only including Bible classes but outdoor adventure trips as well. In the program along with me were 32 others as well as our incredible instructors and interns that quickly became family. Throughout my year in Quest I was challenged physically and spiritually through the different out trips and classes I took.

There are so many words I could pick to describe my year with Quest but the two that seem to fit the best are uprooted and grounded. I chose these two words because during my year with Quest God placed an image in my head of my heart, in which my heart was entangled in vines, the vines representing all the worries, fears, and lies that had been surrounding my heart.

Throughout the year God continually showed me things in my life that He needed to uproot and He grounded me in his truth through His word as well as through the encouragements of those He blessed me with. The uprooting God did in my life was not always easy but was sometimes very difficult and painful as I began to realize that the unhealthy thought patterns and habits I had developed over time were not going to just go away but I needed to share my weaknesses and be vulnerable with the people that He placed in my life. Which was a terrifying experience but as I opened up to others and received their encouragement, grace, and love that could only come from God, God took hold of my heart and removed many of the weeds that had been festering and growing within me. As He was uprooting the weeds from my heart he was also planting truth within me and drawing me closer to Him and His word as I began to set aside time to spend with him everyday. When I would encounter a thought that I did not believe was from God and that was not honoring to Him I would here scripture in my head cutting off the undesired thought.

As the end of the year came I felt God calling me to apply to be the head counselor at my camp as well as apply for a second year at CBC and a Resident leader position. As I applied for all three of these opportunities I felt ridiculous in doing so as I felt under qualified for both positions and unsure of how I could come back for a second year financially. But God did as He does and blessed me with all three opportunities. I was in disbelief and unbelievably excited for all He had planned for me. I worked throughout the summer and as I did God used much of what he had taught me through my first year at CBC to lead well and gave me the strength I needed to serve myself and others.

As I entered my second year at CBC I was tired from my service at camp as well as excited for what this year would hold. As the first couple weeks unfolded I began to realize that this year was going to be completely different from my first year as I would not be going on crazy adventure trips, would not be spending time with the same students and instructors everyday but would be introduced to new teachers and new people that would become a part of my life. While I was adjusting to my new life I quickly began to realize that I played many different roles. I was a resident leader, a student, and a friend. In the midst of the roles I played I began to become aware of parts of myself that I did not like and became aware that I am a perfectionist which is never something I knew about myself. Whenever I have heard the word perfectionist I picture someone who likes to have material items perfectly organized and put together but I discovered I was a perfectionist when it came to myself. In every role, I played whether that be a friend, student, or leader I had the expectation of myself to do perfect and be perfect as well as apply everything that I was learning from classes to my life. I began to wear out and became confused as to why God had called me back to CBC at all. As I went to Jesus with my weariness and confusion he would continually encourage me through others, through words He spoke over me, and from the Bible.

This year and particularly this semester has been a great struggle for me as I have discovered that I am still learning how to trust God with the plan he has for my life and in the midst of that I struggle to give myself the same grace God so readily gives me when I do not trust in him or when I get distracted by the fears and worries that often plague me. In spite of the struggle God has been here in the moments I have felt Him and in the moments I haven’t. I know God is faithful and the work He has done within me is not done once I leave CBC but He will continue to bring back people, thoughts, images, and words that will stick with me forever and encourage me to stay close to Him for the rest of my life.

I can’t thank God enough for how much he has blessed me throughout my whole life and for the past two years I have spent at CBC. I want to thank those of you that have allowed God to use you to speak into my life. The work He has done in me is largely because of how all of you were willing to push me in the right direction, correct me, encourage me, pray for me, and love me so evidently with the love of our Jesus. As I leave CBC I am taking the scripture Proverbs 3:5-6 with me which is: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways submit to Him and he will make your paths straight. Thank you all for taking the time to listen to the work Jesus has done in my life. I pray that he would bless each and every one of you.