It was exciting! I’d been accepted in a Master’s Program of Counseling, something I’d long dreamt of doing. So, after graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree, and visiting with friends along the way, I was only slightly jarred by the experience at the border crossing between Canada and the US. The officer there had likely seen no one all day at his lonely post at the very rural crossing. I guess I made an interesting study for him so he kept me hostage for 1 ½ hours while he poured through all my things, removing everything from the trunk, photocopying everything from my wallet, searching under the seats, taking my photo, and asking me tons of prying questions. Once released from his ‘care’ I drove off, checking the rear-view mirror for signs of being followed.
I eventually arrived in Virginia Beach, quickly found a room to rent with a fellow student, his wife and toddler son. I got a part-time job as Music Director in a nearby church and sailed blissfully into my interview with the Foreign Students Advisor. It was there I was informed that a change had been made by the Admissions Committee who felt I should enroll in Biblical Studies and not Counseling. That beautiful Friday morning turned suddenly dark as I was confronted with this nightmarish scenario. The next 30 hours were a mix of, ‘Why me?’ ‘Poor me!’ and, ‘God, I thought you loved me!’ Somewhere late Saturday evening, God won the battle, I surrendered (rather like taken down kicking and screaming, I will confess), and determined to return to the FSA’s office on Monday morning with my new resolve to accept this disruption to my plans, having no idea where this would lead.
Ten days later, my car needed a repair which cost 40% of my savings. Two weeks after that, my car melted down, dead, on the highway, and had to be towed to the junkyard. gulp. No problem. God was in charge and would make a way (I fervently hoped). It did occur to me that this was strange reward for agreeing to follow Him in a course of study which typically led to being a pastor (which I was determined would not become my plight). Over the next two years I borrowed so many different cars, I can’t remember them all, but I always made it to where I needed to be.
To my surprise, I quickly felt that the Biblical Studies program was where I was supposed to be. The Holy Spirit constantly affirmed this. I think this is one application of a camel going through the eye of a needle. This was not what I had imagined for myself, yet through submission, I discovered a joy that I couldn’t have dreamed of before.
Doors opened. Money came in. Housing and transportation and food were provided. Scholarships were awarded for which I hadn’t applied. I graduated, miraculously debt free! (don’t ask because I don’t know how that happened – well, of course, God did it!)
When I read Paul’s letters in the New Testament, I hear a similar tale being woven. He started out on a trajectory, confident, self-assured, much lauded by the religious elite. Then he was lovingly cut down to size by his Heavenly Father (another camel being squeezed through that needle?) He, too, experienced a ‘course correction.’ His testimony continually spilled over with exuberant gratitude for all he’d received post-Damascus Road. What is our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? Surrender, for one. And it hurts, but as one professor was wont to say, ‘It hurts so good!’ PD