On Tuesday, May 13th, at approximately 12:35pm, I finished my last final exam for this semester. I now take a deep breath and quote the words of Jesus, "It is finished." Of course his meaning and my meaning are two different things, yet they are similar. In John 19:30, Jesus was referring to all the prophesies and his work being completed, this was the confirmation that he was now able to give up his spirit and die. It was the sign of the end, or the completion of his mission and that it was time for a new start. That is how I feel, I feel like I have worked very hard all semester, sweat and cried, I didn't quite bleed, but I really put my all into doing well this semester. I may not be walking away with all A's, but I know I did my best and honestly for the tough semester I had, my grades are very good. Through this semester God has taught me a lot, our relationship has grown and strengthened, I have grown and strengthened, and I have learned a lot about trust, love, and peace.
I look back on this semester with a smile, there are so many things that I could want to change and normally I probably would be kicking myself about how I should have done things differently, but I learned through this semester that God has used every opportunity to transform me into something he can use and he has helped me come to the point where I have peace and joy in letting go and trusting him. I know that there were times during this semester where I felt as though I could barely keep my head above the water, I remember having anxiety about my grades being dragged down by the overwhelming work load that seemed to just keep being piled on. There were times where I was asking and asking, God is this your will? God if this is your will, why does it seem that I am having such a hard time? I forget sometimes that when things get tough, that is the time that God is working the most.
This semester God taught me a lot about trust and he taught me a lot about where I lacked prayer in my daily habits. During this semester there were times where I was really struggling with whether God was listening or if I was in his will with what I was doing at school. I kept praying for a job near school so that I would be able to stay in this area and have something during the semester. I struggled because I felt as though my prayers were falling on deaf ears. At some point in April, I was having a terrible day and I felt that the world was caving in, I fled to a place that I find to be peaceful, serene, and completely quiet with no one around, minus the dead. Yep, I went to a grave yard, the place that always seems to be my quiet "hiding place" and I just wept. I don't think the dead buried there minded too much, I'm pretty sure that they had quite a few tears during their life on earth and understood where I was at. I cried out to God and asked him why he wasn't giving me a job. I mean, in everything I was doing my best to keep up with devotions among the other crazy time consuming things required of me during the semester. Why hadn't he answered? Wasn't I being faithful enough? If this was his will for me to be here at school, why was he letting my savings drain and not providing me a job? Something that God has been trying to hammer into my head that I seemed to be too dense to fully comprehend and/or accept, is trust. God reminded me that I need to TRUST him. I was reminded of the struggle I have with trust with a lot of people around me and definitely with him.
I try not to ask God 'why' questions, because every time I do he always seems to retaliate with his own why question. (Which I love, but sometimes pound my fists in anger about) God retaliated with this thought: why don't you trust me enough to know that I love you with an everlasting love, that I have a plan for you to prosper you.....never never to harm you. Why then do you not believe that I am going to take care of you? Have I ever let you go, have I ever failed to keep you safe, have I ever broken a promise with you?
I wept, why is it that I question God when he has never done anything to make me need to question his faithfulness? I said over and over in my mind two verses from Jeremiah that I love:
Jeremiah 31:3- "The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you..."
Jeremiah 29:11-13- "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all of your heart."
I wept because once again I had failed to trust God, a God that has always approached me with loving-kindness, it was my blindness that lead me to my troubles. God reminded me of the story with the widow and her oil. (2 Kings 4:1-7) Did God fail to take care of that widow? Of course not. I thought about the scripture Psalm 37: 4, where it says that if you delight in the Lord he will give you the desires of your heart. That's when I prayed to God and said that I wanted a job, I wanted to stay close to school. However, above all I wanted his will. I realized that God knew everything I needed AND wanted, and he knew what was best.
I wept on my mountain, sure it was a mountain of dead people, but I think you can learn a lot from dead people (as morbid and perhaps funny as it sounds). The dead are the most quiet people I know, they sometimes put me in awe, and I think I realized that day and realize again as I am writing this, how hard it is to be completely quiet in the presence of my Lord, and I wonder. However, I realized that even if it is hard it is so important to be still before the Lord, when I am quiet I am open and ready for what he wants to reveal to me. I was reminded about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8, where a widow is so persistent and honestly annoying that a judge agrees to give her justice just to get rid of her. In the Bible it talks about praying without ceasing, 2 Thessalonians 5: 16-17. I have learned that I am to pray with out ceasing, and also be still, to be quiet before the Lord and give him a chance to get a word in.
I learned two valuable lessons that day that drew me closer to God, and brought us to a deeper level in our relationship. I learned how to trust and pray. If you want to be happy in Jesus....trust, obey, pray. I have learned a lot this semester about growing up. I've grown up a little more in the spiritual sense, I have grown up in my life by getting a taste of reality, and I have grown up in the professional/educational world. I thank God that he blesses me constantly, he loves me, and that he is patient enough to keep guiding me. I know that I am not done growing and am actually quite glad that I am not done growing. If this was the level of intelligence I had to reach to be done, I would be scared to death, I also am glad that there is always room for improvement and more that I am going to learn. Why wouldn't I want to strive to be the best that I can be? Why shouldn't I keep my eye on the prize of heaven and do my best to be my best while here on earth so that I might reach heavens glory proud of the time I spent here on earth?
I leave with this scripture Philippians 4:8-9: Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.