People will tell you some cliche′s at times when you are going through a difficulties, especially when they don't know what else to say to comfort you. The most common are: "God never gives us something we can't handle, lean on him and he will strengthen you," "Every situation or hard time is a chance to grow in faith and trust Him," "All things work together for good for those who love the Lord,"and "God uses the difficulties in life teach us lessons or mold us." I am not saying anything is wrong with any of these statements, in fact, the opposite: I believe they are all true. The problem is they all do very little to comfort you if you don't believe them or haven't seen it in action.
I was driving today in my car and a light bulb went off in my head. God prepared me to trust him for this exact situation. The reason I am able to believe him today is because he showed me how when I was out of options not that long ago in a totally different area of my life and HE showed me that He could bring me through.
Here's the thing, I know that you aren't going to believe me but that's okay with me. I am sitting on my bed typing on my computer and I don't have to be self-conscious here because no one is looking at me and I can say what happened and if you think I am a kook, well, I won't know about it. So here it is…
About 8 years ago, I started Optometry school (where I met my husband--a whole other miracle), totally unprepared for what I was getting into. I had breezed through high school, graduated college with a pretty high GPA, despite working and playing A LOT and studying a relatively little amount, and I had been accepted to graduate school in several locations. I decided to go into Optometry because it was the family business and my then-boyfriend had encouraged me to do it because I would have job security and it would bring me back to my home-town for work. I went into it thinking that I would breeze through just as I had every other academic endeavor.
After the first two quarters of school, I realized that I really did want to be there and that I really was willing to work for it, and I really enjoyed the clinical aspects of the job. Unfortunately, I had already dug myself into a hole that I would spend the next three years trying to get out of. Without too many details, Optometry school (which is I am sure like any other graduate program) has a way of weeding out those who don't belong. The teachers were tough, the hours were long, the material was exhaustive, and it required dedication and time. It was more than a full time job; it was life. I really think that it bonded us the way basic training bonds marines. We had to learn to group together and rely on each other and spend hours together, outside of our courses and clinic, to study.
There are a series of tests which require passage to move on to further levels in school, our National board exams. You must have passed them at a certain point to be allowed to continue with your class and the first is by-far the most difficult. It consists of random knowledge of any science you may have ever learned and very little of it is related to the eye. The study book for this test is thicker than a dictionary and has a disclaimer on the front stating that it is not a complete listing of all topics which may be covered. Our school had a very high passage rate but I managed to fail it the first time. Unfortunately for me, this failure set off something inside of me that would plague me the rest of school---PANIC ATTACKS. I never had one before and I don't think I have had one since, except in nightmares of school.
I would study until I knew the material well, then I would go to study group and answer questions that my classmates asked, and share my memorization techniques. I would know everything there was to know-to the point of quoting my notes. Then I would go and fail the test. No kidding it was like a golfer with the shanks. I couldn't get it together…every semester it was like I would barely get through it. I would leave a test in a cold sweat and have no idea what I had answered or even what questions had been asked. It was awful for me and my parents, especially my mom, who had to come up one weekend and shake me and tell me to "pull myself together!" I had lot's of people praying for me and I knew it but I had no confidence in myself and even less in God.
I had gotten so far from Him that Satan just had a hold on me and would not let go. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control." I wasn't living it. I wasn't living powerful in Him, I was living fearful and defeated. I had wandered far from God and Satan was dragging me down a path of destruction and panic and fear and I couldn't get out…until I started relying on God.
I just started praying (like we all do when we get to the bottom of the valley) and I started asking him to help me. As I started trusting in him, the weight started lifting off of me. I don't know if you can understand how heavy of a weight failure is to a Type A perfectionist, but it was heavier and longer than any marathon I have ever run. Tests came and went and I started to slowly bring my grades up, test by test, but finally I had to take that booger of a Board Exam again (number 3) and it was my last chance…despite getting good enough grades to continue passing my classes and doing awesome in clinic, I had to pass this test to continue with my class. NO PRESSURE, huh?
Well, I prayed and studied the night before the test and I really just went to God and laid it bare. I realized that I could do nothing without him, that the only way I could pass this test was if He helped me take it, and guided my hand, and gave me the knowledge I needed and the peace to think clearly. I totally left my burden at His feet. Then I packed up my stuff, got about eight study sheets together to look over while I waited for the test to start in the morning, and went to bed.
The next morning I continued to pray as I drove my little silver Saturn to the testing center. When I got to the parking lot I sat in my car and looked over my notes. I separated out three pages to bring in with me, left the rest in the car and went inside. I just sat at the desk with my hand-written notes and calmly looked at what I had written. These were just facts I had jotted down while I studied during earlier sessions and really kind of a random review. We were soon asked to put our materials away and the tests were passed out.
When time began, I started reading the first question and realized it was something I just read on my notes! I was so excited. I felt calm and confident. "Thank you God," I whispered to myself and moved on to the next question. It, too, had been on the study guide I was just reading! The next three questions were the same thing…one after one the questions looked so familiar. After the fifth or sixth question, there were some I didn't know or recognize, but it didn't matter. I was so confident and I could see the miracle God had worked to give me that boost that it carried through the whole first half of the test.
When lunch was called, I went out to my car, looked at my notes (written in my handwriting with some of those early questions right there on the page) and began weeping and crying out to God. I must have looked like a crazy person but I just really started talking to Him and crying and thanking Him for his kindness to me.
I had a limited amount of time to get lunch so I began to drive my car to Arby's to get a sandwich and as I pulled out I had the strangest feeling. I was still talking and praying, but I suddenly felt there was someone in the car with me. Now, I am not Moses; I haven't ever heard an audible voice or seen visions or dreamed of a visitor, but I promise you Jesus was in that car with me. I can't explain it other than to say that it was the feeling you have when you feel someone looking at you or standing behind you in line at the grocery store but you don't turn and look at them. Jesus was sitting in my Saturn in the passenger seat. It.. was… AWESOME!!! I know I will never have that again until I get to Heaven. I know I didn't deserve it but I know He understood my desperation and heard my cry and came to me. Jesus came and comforted me. (This is what I mean when I say He is sweet.) I would be willing to bet that if anyone had seen me driving (no one did) that it would have been like Daniel in the lion's den. I believe two people would have been seen in my car instead of just me. He was that tangible. I never looked at the passenger seat, I just kept driving.
When I got back to the testing center, He was gone. I ate, prayed again, and took the last couple review sheets into the testing center and sat down. It's hard to believe, but when the test started back the first two sections of questions were matching that mirrored a chart I had made in my notes to help me remember some key fact grouping (I think maybe some drug classes or diseases). The second group was also familiar and then a few more from my notes peppered in with some other questions. Again I was feeling so confident and trusting of God's guidance that I breezed through the second half of the test. Of course, with Jesus taking the test, I passed. I moved up with my class, easily passed all the other boards and began doing much better at school and continued excelling at clinicals. And the rest…is history, except one thing. The thing I left out.
When Jesus was in the car with me, I did feel peace, but I also got a funny feeling-- like a thought in my head. At the time, I was so worried about the test, I didn't concentrate on the thought, it just kind of flitted away. But afterward, at home, as I re-lived the experience, I remembered. The thought was that I would need this one day…that somehow this was a building block for me and that I was going to need that faith in the future... for my child. Now this is the weird part, at the time I thought that meant that I might have a special needs child, one with a handi-cap or Down Syndrome, so in my stupidity I thought maybe that means I shouldn't have children because that will be a burden. I just put that aside and decided that if I chose not to have kids, I wouldn't have to worry about it. Even though I didn't truly even know what that promise meant, I decided that I would fix it myself. After the miracle God had JUST given me, I turned into an Isrealite and decided to wander in the desert for forty years instead of letting him lead me into the promised land. Can you believe it?
In another post I told you that about two and a half years ago I started praying that if God wanted me to have children, I needed him to change my heart and my husband's. When we were married, we agreed that we didn't want children. Indefinitely. And so when I started praying, I remembered what God had told me and I said,"I need you to give me those feelings if I am meant to be a mother." Six months later he did. I started talking to Neil about it and he agreed that if we "take it slow," I could discontinue my BC.
Well, here I am six years after that miracle and the light bulb is just now going off. I sure am slow…it's a good thing God is so patient! I don't know all of the plans He has for me, but what I do know is this… He brought me out of Egypt. He parted the Red Sea. He sent a pillar of fire to guide me through the night. He showed me the promised land... You had better believe I am going to let Him lead me into it!!!
I firmly believe that when we pray, God answers. It doesn't sound like a voice…it can sound like a feeling in your heart, like a promise, or like a tugging, or it can be that person after person tells you something, something that can't be coincidence. If you are willing to see that He is orchestrating the universe then you will realize nothing is coincidence, and everything really is part of a perfect masterpiece that he is creating with the intertwining of each of our simple lives. He weaves us all in together in perfect timing so that each thread touches another at just the right spot. He leaves us with no rough edges. He binds all the seams. Every so often he looks at his work, and sometimes he has to remove a thread to make the masterpiece perfect. Sometimes He returns to add a piece. I am so grateful that He pulled me out, cut me down, braided me tighter, and wove me back into the tapestry that is His Plan.
For those who want to read the story of Moses and the Isrealites in the Desert, it can be found in the book of Exodus.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise: you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:1-3,13,16