NO CONVENIENT TIMES

 

My times are in your hands…  Psalm 31:15 (NIV)

 

When I was newly-returned to university, I struggled to balance parenting, two jobs, and college requirements.  It took all the energy and grace I had to address each responsibility in a fairly adequate manner and still ensure my own spiritual and mental health.

 

And then one of my children had a minor crisis in school – just as I was preparing for a mid-term exam.  I worked with elementary teachers to resolve the issue, and then I spoke to my university professor.  I wanted to see if my mid-term could be delayed a while so that I could take these challenges one at a time.  That made perfect sense to me.

 

She said something I’ve never forgotten.  “Marthe, you will find that life doesn’t stop to make allowances for crises.  There are no convenient times for problems.  It all flows together.  It’s up to you to handle everything as it comes.  She didn’t tell me how to do it, but essentially she was saying that I couldn’t postpone the exam until I was ready, and that I wouldn’t be able to slow down time for my convenience.

 

This was possibly one of the best lessons I learned in that Early Childhood Development class.  Life comes at you fast, and the only way we can stay poised and at peace with the stresses that make up every single day is to invite Christ into every situation.  We ask for his guidance, wisdom, and grace.  We ask for help in prioritizing the issues.  And it works.  We can’t manage or control the circumstances that intrude into our lives, but with Christ’s help, we can manage ourselves with regards to the circumstances. It works.

 

Thank you very much, Dr. Waldron.

 

Sweet Lord, you see the end from the beginning, and nothing ever takes you by surprise.  Help us to remember that if we’ve asked you to be Lord, we must act accordingly. Forgive us if we complain about the overload.  You know exactly what we can bear and are there to carry the load when we can’t.  Thank you.  AMEN.

RECOLLECTIONS

 

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19  (KJV).

 

From time to time I enjoy recounting to my grown children the many times God’s faithfulness has been so evident.  One of them was sharing a particular need over the weekend, and I was reminded of this story.

 

After being a college “stop-out” for twelve years, I was given an opportunity to dip my toe back into the educational process by taking one university class.  It was do or die, and I would desperately need a student loan to finish the next two years.

 

I filled out the myriad pages of the loan application with information about my status:  single parent with two children, part time employment, debts (including a mortgage), and so on.  I prayed about the packet and mailed it in, confident that I would be approved.  After all, we were living under the official poverty line, and a degree would ensure my ability to provide for my children.

 

I plodded through my university class, studying after the children were in bed and doing projects or special reports when they were away from home.  My professor assured me that I was doing well (in spite of the twelve-year absence) and that I was capable of completing a degree.  All I needed was tuition funds.

 

Mid-semester was getting closer, the time when we were to pre-register for the spring semester.  The deadline for that funding was close enough to touch.  I was getting a bit anxious but also knew I was highly qualified for a student loan.

 

When the packet arrived from the New Jersey funder, I could hardly wait to rip it open and share the good news.  I couldn’t believe the stunning conclusion when I discovered that I had been rejected.  How could I not have been approved? I wondered.  My income was not at all adequate for college tuition, and there seemed to be no other opportunities in sight.  I was devastated.

 

I wept and wept over my broken dreams and the loss of a degree that had seemed so much closer.  Finally, I laid the rejection letter on the bed and fell down beside it.  “God, if this one semester is all I’m to have, I relinquish my dream to you,” I said.  After more sobbing, I abandoned my hopes and my plans to my Father.

 

The following day I went to class, and responding to an impulse, I dropped in to see my advisor.  “Oh, I’ve been looking for you,” she said.  “I want you to interview for a job at a nearby school.”  I protested, reminding her that I didn’t yet have a degree, but she was insistent.  She called the school, and they asked her to send me right away.

 

I drove to the church school and had the strangest sensation as I walked up the front stairs.  This job is mine, I thought.  The kind, early childhood coordinator interviewed me, enlisted me to do a trial teaching stint for a week (pro bono), and then added, “If we decide to hire you, we will pay your tuition until you finish your degree.”

 

I left with a lighter heart than I’d had in days and got home just in time to answer the phone.  Another school department was calling saying they would pay my tuition if I would work with their students.  And then the university President’s office wrote to announce that I had been awarded a full scholarship for the spring semester.

 

I was hired by the church school and taught there until our headmaster retired and I had completed two degrees.  I had wanted—and prayed for a loan—God had in mind a scholarship.

 

Father, your ways are always so much higher and better than ours.  Help us always to trust you in all things, even when it seems that nothing is working the way we’ve planned.  Thank you that your provisions are infinite and your gifts are abundant.  AMEN.