Seeking eternal value: Spending a year in the Tetons

By: 
Hannah Gross, NLJ Correspondent

know it probably seems crazy to give up an entire year of work or college to attend a small Bible program that doesn’t even offer a degree, but it’s a year I would not trade for anything.

For the past nine months, I have had the amazing privilege of attending Jackson Hole Bible College, a one-year creation apologetics program. I went into the year wanting to grow my faith and relationship with the Lord, but my expectations were far exceeded. 

Our schedules were jam-packed with classes, homework, work projects and more. Whether it was trying to finish a 12-page paper, cramming 100 verses from Proverbs to memory in less than a week for the quiz competition or staying up late studying for the final exam, there was hardly a dull moment. I remember calling my dad after the first week and telling him that if I didn’t learn anything else the rest of the year, what I had learned that week alone already made it worth it. 

It would be hard to summarize everything we learned into one column because JHBC has impacted me in ways beyond what words can describe. However, there is one thing that stuck out to me from the year that was the glue to everything else we learned: to glorify the Lord in all that we do. Our lives here on earth are very short compared to eternity, so we should want to make the most of our time.   

  I’ve realized that nothing in life truly matters unless it has something of eternal value. 

I used to be scared to share my faith, but that is the best way to glorify the Lord on earth. The power of the Gospel is really so simple. The Bible says that we are all sinners, and because God is just, we deserve eternal punishment in hell. Like a fair judge in the court system, God can’t let us off the hook without proper payment. That’s why he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to take our place. As both fully God and fully man, Jesus became the sinless sacrifice, the perfect substitution, when he died on the cross. He conquered sin and death once and for all when he came back to life three days later.

We can receive a complete cancellation of debt if we turn from our sin and put our trust in Christ. There’s nothing we can do to earn heaven, no amount of good works to “outweigh” the bad. It is a complete work of Christ alone through faith alone, extended to anyone willing to receive it. This simple yet powerful truth has completely transformed my life, and it’s the reason for which I live today. I want to spend the rest of my life sharing this good news with others.  

  Does this mean I’m now going to deny myself of all frivolous entertainment and pleasure and join the nunnery? Of course not. Glorifying God doesn’t mean I have to give up everything else in life. Rather, he becomes the center of everything I do. Whether I’m in the middle of Africa working in a poverty-stricken community or simply hanging out at the park with friends, I can glorify the Lord in all areas of my life.

That being said, the year wasn’t always all work and no play. Despite the busy schedule, we still found plenty of time to have fun. Some of my greatest memories were made during late-night conversations in the dorms, impromptu worship nights or playing volleyball and broomball (a hockey-inspired game played on ice without skates with brooms in place of sticks) for hours on Fridays to be followed by another couple hours of midnight snacking, card games and rubber band wars in the lodge. We also had our fair share of laughter, whether it was making animal noises on the bus, having an elaborate fashion show competition at 1 a.m. or pranking the professor with 300 rubber ducks in his mailbox. 

There are so many more memories that I could have included, but what made them all so great was the people they were made with. I was truly blessed by the JHBC Class of 2022, and I could not have asked for a better group of staff and students. It was evident that they desired to have the Lord at the center of their lives by their dedication to learn and their eagerness to share their faith with others. We were able to laugh and goof off together, but we also spent hours at the dinner table or in the classroom debriefing and sharing what the Lord was teaching us in class and our personal devotional time. I am very excited to see where the Lord takes each and every one of them because I know they will be used greatly by God. 

I’m not exactly sure what the Lord has in store for me in the following years, but I believe he has laid it on my heart to go on the mission field. I don’t know where He will lead me or when, but I’m content with wherever I’m at because I know it’s an opportunity to glorify the Lord. My life is in his hands, and I want the Lord to use me according to his perfect plan and will. As sad as it was to leave JHBC, I realized that my time there was not merely an end but a beginning.

 

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