June 5, 2014
To have a conversation with Charley Edin is exhilarating—especially if you relish talking about things of God and what it means to live an authentic Christian life. His passion bursts forth from his person as he explores his unending stream of questions—good questions, as well as articulating how God has been revealing himself within that God-seeking curiosity.
For Edin, a Biblical Studies major, it’s not about having his “head in the clouds.” It always, always brings him back to the center, the Triune God, who is going about the continuing transformative work in all corners of his life. He clearly has a posture of wanting to be shaped by God.
At only 23, Edin has experienced both a tumultuous and well-travelled journey of searching for Jesus. Says Edin, “My life into Christ was a rollercoaster. Jesus has always been someone I had to deal with.”
Growing up in a Christian home, he recalls asking his father one Sunday after church what the pastor meant by “believe in your heart.” Ultimately he concluded that Christianity was a fraud.
However, that did not end his search for life’s meaning in “a world that is a mess.” A video about the 1960’s counter-culture sparked his pursuit of transcendence first through marijuana and then LSD, going from one drug-induced “spiritual” high to the next. He didn’t believe in evil, but he continued to talk to his dad about Jesus.
Random things happened, like receiving a dollar bill with the message, “I will save you,” followed by the reference Romans 10:9. Listening to a song, he would be overcome with a sense of evil (which he didn’t believe in) and it scared him. He felt compelled to “make sure Christians were wrong” leading to a barrage of questions.
Ironically while he was getting high with a friend, he felt obsessed with the question, “Who is Jesus?” Suddenly the idea that “the eternal Father loves the eternal Son and He loves me” pierced him and he started to sob. God began to break through, meeting Edin where he was.
He sought out a Christian friend who talked with him about the Cross. Edin says, “I realized that God didn’t just forgive me, he dealt with it. He destroyed it. It was a shocking message for me.”
After being trained and serving with Youth With A Mission, Charley’s uncle told him about Trinity. He was dubious but nevertheless grabbed his backpack and pillow, traveling from North Dakota to Trinity by train with little to go on.
Looking back now as a Trinity graduate, Edin sees how God has worked in a deeply transformative way in many areas of life—faith, relationships, worldview, intellectual exploration—seeing all as a joyful gift of education. While earlier he felt he was chasing truth, he now sees this process as transformative exploration that includes “the joy and wonder of a child” that always finds its center in the Triune God.
He also sees his education as “one big conversation” with the interweaving of material between classes, as well as the “challenging, insightful and formative” conversations with professors and fellow students outside of the classroom.
“Professors give you tools. They don’t expect you to believe what they believe,” says Edin. “They also help you to see that ‘thinking’ is not dangerous.”
He has a deep appreciation for Academic Dean Dr. Michael DeLashmutt, whom he observes as a gracious and virtuous man. “We may not agree on everything, but he carries a posture of humility. He takes life seriously, but not too seriously. And his deep love of God and the church stands above all,” says Edin.
Another huge gift of Edin’s time here was the meeting of his now wife, Brianna, who had taken classes at Trinity but was not a student when he began. A mutual friend introduced them his third day in Everett, and he quite quickly thought to himself, “I’m going to marry her.” They have been married for one and a half years (getting married while Edin was in the middle of term) and are excited about the unknowns to unfold post-graduation.
A classmate, Frank Elavsky, suggested students “take some time off and become a more interesting person.” In other words, get out there and discover God’s world and who you are in his world. Although graduate school may be in the future, for now Charley and Brianna want to explore experiences that lead to a more informed worldview.
Edin sums up life today well when he says, “God has given us a unique dance and we have to listen to the song.”