I am sitting at my computer, waiting for my student loan forms to load on the internet. And I am squeamish. The number indicating how much assistance I am accepting, in red no less, is frightening. I want very much to say, “Money is not my god.” But when I see that number (and yes, I have adjusted my schedule because I need my award to more closely match my tuition), I shrink. Wow. That’s a lot. How am I ever going to pay that back? (And how will I ever graduate if I keep dropping classes?)
I panic. And begin been trolling internet job sites. “I could do that. I mean I’ve never welded anything in my life, but surely I could be a master welder in no time. Right?” [To all my welder friends out there, I apologize. This is merely an example of my desperation; anyone who would hand me tools involving fire is more than slightly off their rocker.] And then I consider taking 1 class per semester... for the next 13 years. Ridiculously depressing. That thought, in turn, causes me to throw in the towel, “forget it! How can I put my family through this type of financial strain?” Though this is mostly due to the little voice screaming in the back of my head, “Student loans are evil! Get out of debt; don’t dig in deeper” a la Dave Ramsey; coupled with the admonition of a pastor, who implied that education merely for the sake of more education is a waste of resources.
But do you want to know the funny part (not laugh-out-loud funny; more of an audible smirk)? Just last night (rather, very early this morning), I committed to an utterly abandoned following after God in my life. I literally said, “I will not let any obstacle, of other’s or my own making, stand in the way of me doing the good works for which You have made me.” Do these require a degree? Likely not. Though I know I was called to go. It was so present, so palpable, when I first felt it. And when I’m there, even on the nights of tests (yeah, I don’t handle stress well) or paper’s due dates, there is this wide open space within my spirit; an expansion, a hope that permeates my entire being. When I drive away from campus, I feel it closing behind me; and I have this desperate desire to pull it with me, to share it with the world, to take it with me into the darkness. I know it’s not the commentaries, or the lectures, or the theories that awaken my spirit. It’s finding new [to me, as He is unchanging] facets of God; glimpsing a little more of Jesus. It is opening my God box a little wider, letting Him out of my parameters a little bit more; letting Him show me who He is. And then, like the Samaritan woman, I want to run and call everyone to Jesus. See! Look! He is the hope for our lives; He is the rescue from our darkness! He is so much more than I ever could have imagined. He is beautiful.
So how do I reconcile that desire with the glaring, red numerals extracting my resolution? By recalling the time not two semesters ago, when I sat in the office of a gentleman theologian; he encouraged me to follow my calling, while admonishing me that this will be an uphill battle the entire way. It will try my resolve. It will be a test of endurance. Basically, (in my coarse paraphrase), it’s gonna suck. But most things that are worth doing require great effort, some sacrifice, and an exorbitant amount of grace; as well as an adjustment of my attitude. So as I click the “submit” button on my loans, I am engaging in a breath prayer. I breathe in, “YHWH-Yireh” [the God who Provides] to recognize that God is the source of my sustenance and His provision is always more than sufficient. And I breathe out: “money is not my god,” to remind me that in spite of their scariness, they are just numbers after all.