“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31 (NLT).
Completing my college education as a single mother had both its rewards and challenges. My daughter was 3 years old when I made the move to College. It was about a 3-1/2 hour drive from my family’s home to get there. Leaving home was scary. It was the only home I knew – coupled with the fact that I had the responsibility of living on my own and caring for my daughter’s needs on my own.
A particularly difficult period was during final exams when I injured and sprained my ankle. It was a bad sprain and I needed crutches for a couple of weeks in order to get around. I had to rely on many friends to drive me to my daughter’s daycare, to campus and then back to our tiny one-bedroom apartment located off campus. One night, I asked a close friend of mine to come over and help me make dinner. It had been a long day – I was tired, my arms ached from hobbling along on crutches and I needed someone to step in. I remember crying uncontrollably, telling him that I was crazy thinking I could ever do this on my own. I proceeded to yell out in exasperation that I was going to “pack up my things and go back home!” Luckily, my friend spoke some sense into me, gently reminding me that the light was not far from the end of the tunnel and that it would be a pretty foolish decision to quit now after all the hard work I had put in to get to this point.
During my Bible Study time this week, I read Acts Chapters 19 to 23. These chapters focus on Paul’s third and fourth missionary journeys, where he travelled throughout the Roman Empire and then returned to Jerusalem to continue preaching there.
In Chapter 20, Paul declares that he has been called to go to Jerusalem. He tells the people of Ephesus, “I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” Acts 20:22-24 (NLT).
“Finishing the work” was exactly what Paul knew he was called by God to do. He also knew that sometimes pain and suffering can go along with that. Paul knew what his assignment was and that it was his responsibility to complete it. After arriving in Jerusalem, he begs for an opportunity to speak to the people even though he had been beaten and his life had been threatened.
These chapters are a powerful example of what it can mean to live out God’s will for us. Wanting to quit College was tempting many times for me. As a single mother, I had days when my daughter was sick and I had to miss classes to attend to her needs. That meant make-up work and missed assignments and stress. When I injured my ankle, it was the first time I truly felt helpless. I had to rely on others to get me through the days. It was a time when I was faced with fighting through the struggle or throwing in the towel.
The day I walked down the aisle to the podium and was handed my College diploma was a day that I’ll never forget. Looking up at my family smiling at me as I headed back to my seat, especially my daughter, was a feeling I cannot describe in words. Suddenly, all the hard days and stress seemed so small. But, that diploma was huge. It was an affirmation of all my hard work. I achieved more and grew stronger for all that I had endured through my trials.
Lord, I know your plans for me are for good, not disaster. Please help me think of Paul in times when I feel like giving up – and of his example of selflessness in living out your Word. Thank you for the people you have put in my path who have given of themselves to help me in times of need. Help me to continue to serve others when you call on me to do so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.