Friday Feature: Rachel Gragg

Editor’s Note: If you have children or teens at UFC, you have most likely met the amazing Rachel Gragg, who has invested much in the lives of our kids. Today it’s a joy to welcome her to the blog as she reflects on questions connected to our Malachi study.

In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” We have a God who doesn’t ever change His mind about loving and forgiving us. How has the knowledge that God never changes encouraged you in your life?

The promise that God never changes has encouraged me in a lot of ways. I struggle a lot with anxiety, and I get very wrapped up in my thoughts of the things that could go wrong or the ways the things or people I love could be taken away from me because I don’t have control. However, knowing that God is always constant, He never changes, He is always in control (even over the things I think I actually do have control over!), and He has always had a plan for how my life is going to go for forever and ever is comforting to me. It’s comforting to know that at the end of the day I believe in a God who will always love me and will always be faithful to His promises and will always be in control. So, I don’t have to be anxious about the things of this world, but I can have hope in an eternally faithful and constant God.

In 2016, Rachel Gragg moved from Colorado to Oregon for her freshman year of college. She quickly got involved at the Good Fight and UFC, where she now works in the kids’ and youth ministries. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in June 2020 and plans to return to the UO in June to begin a master’s degree program in secondary education. She loves being part of UFC, where she has grown and been shaped in her knowledge of who God is and who He has called her to be.

Malachi 3:7 says, “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” Describe a time in your life when you experienced God calling you back to Himself. How did God invite you back into deeper relationship with Him?

When I was in high school, I don’t think I necessarily understood who Jesus was or believed the gospel yet, but I think I definitely had little bits of me that believed there was a God who was out there and listening to me. However skewed my perception of Him actually was and how little I actually knew about Him, I think I definitely knew He was there. I have a memory of a night when I was 16. I was struggling a lot with depression and just had a lot of anger toward God and the ways my life had turned out to be nothing like I would have liked it to be. I remember crying to God and asking Him to just take the pain away. I didn’t care how. God showed up for me in a really clear way that night, and I just knew He was telling me He was there, He loved me, and He was not done with me yet. That moment was one of the first times I ever truly believed that God was real, that He loved me and wanted me to follow Him and was calling me to do so.

Malachi 3 describes Jesus as refiner’s fire or fullers’ soap, purifying and refining His people for God’s glory. When in your life did you really feel Jesus sifting and purifying you for His glory? What did that look like and how has it changed you?

For the last two years of my high school experience, I definitely claimed to be a Christian and was super involved in my church, but I definitely don’t think I had any understanding of the weight of the gospel and how it should affect my life. I was working in the kid’s ministry at my church. I was a worship leader. I was on the student leadership team for my youth group, but I was doing all of these things because I wanted other people to look at me and to see I was good, and then give me glory. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I came the UO and the Good Fight that I was really explicitly told the gospel, exposed to the fact that I am sinful and needy and nothing I am, nothing I’m good at, and nothing I do is by my own strength or for my own glory. It is all a gift from God, who has saved me and put me on this earth in order to glorify Him. That was a really refining moment for me because I had to come to terms with the fact that I should not be doing things because I want people to look at me and think I’m so great. Everything I do should be so people look at me and see that God is great.