This is my first week at California State University San Marcos. It has been a very stressful few days as I moved unexpectedly and am in a wedding in Oregon this weekend. Last night, as I laid on my bed amidst the boxes and haphazard remnants of my room, I began to sense the familiar dread that inevitably comes like a raincloud with each approaching semester. My scholastic journey has been hard. I do not think I have ever been so broken down by anything else in my life (except for the time when my friends died in high school). I have never been so challenged to trust in what I cannot see. For where I see my life going, a college degree is not essential and does not make much sense. I constantly question the purpose of it, because I just do not get it. However, I do not feel released to quit, so I keep plugging away, one semester at a time, dying to my desires with every class I take.
I have never been so reduced to the end of myself. Never before have I been so challenged to surrender my life and my will to the plan my Father has for me. Nor have I ever had to die to my desires to the extent that going to college has required of me. I have never had to put so much time, effort, and energy into something I do not want to do. I am terrified that by the time I get my six year degree, I will have wasted my 20s doing homework, and all of this sacrifice will be for nothing. I am afraid I will end up doing hair, and edit on the side, just like I am doing now, just to scrape by. I am afraid there will be no fruit from all of my hard work.
And then I take a second to quiet my fears and anxiety about the lack of payoff I am predicting. I remember that my life is in the hands of a good Dad, who refuses to allow anything in my life to be wasted. There will be fruit from all of these years of homework assignments, pointless classes, and countless shed tears. It just probably will not be in the shape of a fancy career. (I do not really want that anyway.) It will not be so that I can get a masters degree. It will not take the form of fancy conversations at cocktail parties in which I intelligently discuss the literature I studied during my undergrad.
My fruit will be in the form of what is valuable to my Dad.
My fruit will be the fact that many years ago, I told God He could have His way with my life, and I meant it. Thus, since it became clear I was supposed to pursue a college degree, I will not quit until I finish, or until He says I can.
My fruit will look like surrender; the death of my will, so that I can walk in His, and be made more like His Son in the process.
My fruit will be having the capability to educate my kids from home, if I so desire. It will entail me instilling in them a love for literature and the value of words. I will find creative ways to teach them about Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Ernest Hemmingway. I will be able to tell them that going to college made me a better mom because it taught me how to think critically, make decisions, organize my life, keep a schedule, and stick with what I committed myself to even when it got difficult.
My fruit will look like a faith that remains, even when everything inside of me is shaking and crying.
My fruit will look like knowing the heart of God in an incredibly intimate way because I went through years of desperate need of Him. I have depended Him in ways I am not sure I would have had I never started school.
The fruit I will reap will have inherent value, because it will come from the hand of my Father.
His heart and will for me are good. That I do know. As much as I dread the reality of the coming four months, I know good things are hidden among them. I know He has things He wants to teach me about who He is. During my summer and winter breaks I am my normal cheerful self. I enjoy my life and am as free as a bird. I tend to change when I am in school. Due mostly to lack of sleep, I become more serious, easily stressed out, cranky, and discouraged. I have a burning impression in my heart that things are going to be different this time.
I can sense and predict the Lord challenging me this semester. He is saying to me,
“Beloved. You do not have to change just because you are in school. You do not have to change, because I do not change. I am unchanging. I am your steadiness, and your stay. You abide in Me, and what I have is yours. Walk in peace and joy.”
I approach this semester with an expectation to learn new, wonderful things about His heart for me, and His character. I am expectant of good fruit.