Back-To-School: A Day in the Life of an RUF Intern

Caleb Walin  |  August 05, 2019

A Harmonious Fluctuation

BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP. It’s 6AM. For whatever reason, I have slipped into the habit of setting my alarm 30 minutes before I actually have to get out of bed. If you think snoozing is a struggle, it's even harder when you share your bed with your spouse, it’s like you have twice the amount of sleepy human resisting the urge to get out of bed. I stir my wife, Jill, awake as I swing my legs off the bed. Jill works an 8-5 job so we do our best to spend time together before work. After breakfast, coffee, and our morning devotional, Jill hops on her bike to head into work. She takes lunch around noon and leaves work around 5. My day will look almost nothing like hers. That’s just part of the nature of the job of being an RUF Intern. 

I pour myself another cup of coffee and open my ESV Study Bible to start my assigned reading. My work day has begun. Why was reading the Bible with Jill 20 minutes ago not work and now this is? That is because this reading is a part of my study program. Unfortunately, I have fallen behind on my reading and I will take every spare moment I can today to read a couple pages here and there. I have a book by John Murray, an article by C.S. Lewis, and 5 chapters from the book of Revelation. SLLLUUURRRPP. Time for another 10oz of my 50oz intake of coffee per day. 

Now that it’s past 8AM, the students I texted last night might be responding to me. Sure enough, I have texts from Moe, Larry, and Curly. Moe said we can meet up for lunch today but wants me to pick the place. Hmmm... lucky for me I make these sorts of decisions every other day. Larry updated me on his job interview. Aw, sweet! He says it went really well. Thank you, Lord! I text back to ask what the next steps are and how I can be praying. I love being able to invest my time and heart into the lives of guys like Moe and Larry. From my own RUF experience, I know how impactful it is to have someone who keeps up and wants to know more about my life. Finally, I read Curly’s text. There’s not much to the text: “Can we meet today? Something happened.” I fire back, “I’m busy from 9-11 with a staff meeting, but I am free to meet up after that. Starbucks on campus at 11:30 work?” While I wait for his response, I set down my phone and pray a simple prayer, asking that God draw near to Curly and that I could be an instrument in God’s hands. “That works. See you then.” My plans to work on Tuesday-night-worship songs at 12pm are out the window. That’s fine, I’ll do it now before my staff meeting. I pull out my guitar and iPad right there to start my practicing. 

Something my campus minister insists on is that God gives us the time we need to prepare and do ministry. Safe to say, that belief applies to this particular situation. I choose some songs that the group knows well and will take minimal preparation. It looks like that new song will have to be introduced next week. It’s 8:50AM so I zip up my guitar case, grab my work bag, and bike downtown to my staff meeting. This week we are at Blue Sky Bagels. We spend the first hour eating some bagels and shmear and updating each other on our weeks. In the same way that I care for my students, my staff fills me up and cares for me in these weekly staff meetings. We crinkle up our wax paper and bagel crumbs and turn to business. Community Group Bible Study, Freshmen Fellowship, upcoming Fall Retreat, RUF swag designs. We reach the end of our business time. It doesn’t even feel like an hour has gone by. In closing, we share prayer requests. I tell them about my text from Curly and ask for prayer for our upcoming meeting. From there I bike straight to campus to meet up with Curly.

After locking up my bike I walk into Starbucks 5 minutes ahead of schedule! Huzzah! But alas, Curly is already there. “Do you want something to drink? I’m going to grab a coffee.” Curly passes, saying something about caffeine and headaches. Breathe. I stand there in line and realize I am totally unqualified and unprepared to have an emotional conversation. Lord use me. Give me ears to hear. I pray that I could speak words of encouragement and point Curly to you. I scurry back to the sitting area and find Curly. “Can I pray, real quick?” Curly nods and I pray a quick prayer. Curly dives into his explanation…

I had braced myself for an uncomfortable session but it ended up flying by. Curly’s explanation spanned from venting to musing. By the time we were done we prayed, we read the Bible, he talked, I talked, and we both teared up. I found myself (as I often do) telling Curly I did not have the answer as to why these things happen. Like a reminder to my own walk of faith, we don’t have to do or know everything. I feel lame and helpless, it’s probably because, outside of God, I am! As we pack up to go, Curly looks at me and thanks me for getting together and that it meant a lot. For what? I didn’t do anything but say I didn’t know the answers to his questions. It hits me: Curly didn’t come to me because he wanted all the answers. He came to me because he knows I care and will pray for him. Thank you Lord for putting words into my mouth. Curly takes off. I’ve decided to stay here for the next hour while I wait for Larry to get out of class. What to do? Oh yeah, I’m behind on Study Program. I pull out my pencil, straight edge, and book. 

“Caleb?” I yank myself out of my reading world to see a group of the students from RUF. One of my favorite parts about working on campus is being able to run into RUF folks. When I first became an RUF Intern, the Intern Department told us simply being seen on campus by our students is a way that students will be reminded of God. Because I’m perfect? No. But I work for RUF and I am a representative of our ministry that preaches Jesus every week. After a brief conversation, the students head off, and I try to dive back into my book. 

After meeting up for burritos with Larry I bike home to take the dog out. It’s 3PM but I am clocking out. Is that because I’m lazy? No, it’s because I have Spikeball with a group of students tonight at 7PM. The next two hours consist of a Netflix show, grocery shopping, and a dog walk. Now that it’s 5:30PM, Jill should be home soon. SQUEEEEAAKK. I need to fix her bike brake. We spend the next 80 minutes cooking and eating food and catching up on each other’s days. It’s suddenly time for me to leave again for work. 

Spikeball with the students was a blast for me. I get to spend time with fun people playing a sport I love. On the surface level, it just seems like an evening Spikeball session. What I don’t realize at the time is that one of the students who came tonight had just been wondering if anyone really cared to spend time with him. Another student saw the way I raveled up my competitive spirit and then the way I unraveled it and apologized when I realized how I was acting. Lucky for me, RUF does not expect me to live perfectly. What I can do is live as an example and ask forgiveness when I fall short. Both of these students walked away with something more than just Spikeball. 

I shower off at home and watch a TV show with Jill, snuggled up on the couch. Today flew by. I am planning on parking myself in the corner of the cafeteria on campus tomorrow to get some admin work done. I will get some work done, but I will also probably run into and catch up with some students. I’m so thankful for this opportunity in my life. I have always felt called to serve in ministry, and RUF gives me that chance.