by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
We all have choices to make. Some choices are not easy. Some take us down roads less traveled. Some choices require confronting and overcoming our fears. If many new graduates are like my niece, they are wondering how to come up with money for college. I remember when I was a high school grad wondering the same thing, some thirty years ago.
I never thought about not going to college. But it wasn’t obvious how I was going to afford it.
Even with loans, grants and work, it still appeared I would be short what would be required. With my mom’s help, I had enough money for the first semester, but would I be able to pay for the next?
Jesus might answer, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
My mom and I had witnessed the truth of those words many times. She and my dad divorced when I was ten years old. With no formal education or work experience, she managed to build a new life for both of us. She firmly trusted in God to provide whatever we needed. And along the way, she made a believer out of her daughter — me.
Prayer to God had always brought solutions in the past, even in financial matters. Why should I doubt now? Could I believe there might be a situation or condition when God had no control — where God was powerless?
The healings and teachings of Jesus recorded in the Bible had been a source of guidance to me all my childhood, and they still are. I read again about a man who was waiting at a pool called Bethesda. It was believed that, at a certain time, the water there was stirred by an angel. Tradition said that whoever got into the water right after the angel had visited the pool would be healed.
A crippled man had been waiting 38 years — probably most of his life — to enter the pool. But each year, he missed the perfect moment and others got to the water first. Still, he didn’t give up. And his hope was finally realized through Jesus. His healing came — but in an unexpected way.
This account, in John’s Gospel, gave me a new perspective on my worries about college expenses. Was I limiting my options? The man at Bethesda had thought the only way he could be healed was if he got into the pool at exactly the right time. Yet that wasn’t the “only way.” When Jesus redirected his faith from a pool of water to the Christ-power that uplifts and heals, the man found the freedom he had longed for.
Where was my faith, I asked myself? Was it tied only to loans and grants? To finding ample employment? Getting a scholarship? What were my options? Did I face an uncertain future?
What I learned from thinking about Jesus’ encounter with the man at the pool of Bethesda was that God is continuously sending me — and everyone — infinite possibilities. I needed to open my thought to them. Not define or limit the ways my needs could be met.
I could replace fear and uncertainty with the knowledge that God was governing my life. Affirm that God makes all things possible. Including a college education!
So I headed off to college on what some would call a leap of faith. But it was more like a confident and expectant trust that solutions would come, even though I couldn’t see them immediately. I focused on one semester at a time and worried less about the future.
As it turned out, it was semester by semester prayer that led the way to my college degree. And expenses were paid each semester in countless — sometimes unexpected — ways.
One unexpected solution came in the form of a note in my school mailbox. An anonymous donor had paid the remainder of my tuition that year. There were many loans, grants, scholarships and awards. Plus a variety of jobs — some of which gave me valuable experience that served me well in future endeavors.
My college years strengthened my trust in God, divine Love, who truly does meet every need. And I know this is true for my niece and other college-bound grads. Everyone. Maybe we just need to remind ourselves — His ways are infinite and sometimes quite unexpected.