Thursday, July 22, 2010

Look, I'm famous! Also: breaking news!

Well, not really. Does having something posted on the LETU admissions site count? A week or two ago I was asked I if could write a short blog entry for the LETU admission blog. They post stories of what students are up to weekly. Candyce is friendly with the staffer who runs the blog, and suggested to her that I might be able to write an entry for her. Well, I did, and you can find it here. It's a short depiction of my summer so far and what I'm learning from it. It's not an epic-of-gilgamesh length entry like I'm sometimes wont to post, but it gets the job done.

Some of my valued readers may already know this, but it is probably news to most: I am considering staying here in Utah through the school year. I knew this spring that my ability to return to school this fall might well be limited for financial reasons. However, I didn't really expect that my drive would be changed. After all, I have only one semester left, and it would be certainly wise to finish that rather than deferring it.

For those of you who are thinking 'Come on Ned! You have ONE semester left. Just FINISH IT!': Consider Luke 5:11-

So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Surely when Simon Peter left his livelihood behind, people thought it was crazy, irresponsible, and at best a gamble. Nevertheless, it was God who called him to pull his boat up- remember the verse above. If God calls me to pull my degree up onto the shore, who am  I to contradict him? Is my own analysis of the situation more accurate? Look at this:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

I have been coming to understand more clearly that there are really always two sides to anything. The wise thing to do in my situation- from the logical and carnal perspective, would be to return to school and finish my degree, and go from there. Certainly it would be foolish to defer finishing my degree when completion is so close. However, the wisdom of man does not always line up with God's wisdom. In such cases, it seems like foolishness. But isn't God's foolishness better than man's wisdom? The 'foolishness' of simply following God's plan is better than the 'wisdom' of following my own plan, however well thought-out and logical it might be.

When I decided to come here this spring, I knew I was placing my fall in God's hands. Historically, I have worked during the summers in order to earn money to pay for school. I knew when I was making the decision to come here that I would have no opportunity to earn, and therefore no savings to pay for school this fall. I knew that my return to school this fall would be entirely in God's hands. Well, I was thinking about it then, but now I am in the middle of it. The only way that I can return to school this fall is if God works a miracle of providing for me financially. Sort of like Gideon's fleece, I am to look at the results of my financial aid report to see where God wants me. If God does a miracle in providing me for to go back to school this fall, then well, I'm not going to ignore it. It is generally best not to ignore acts of God. And if God doesn't provide for me to go back to school this fall, then it's not really a choice I have to make, is it?

I am trying to be careful not to oversimplify this decision, by reducing it to an "if-then" statement. I could force my way back to school this fall even if God doesn't provide miraculously. I could take out some high-interest loans and just get my degree done. Maybe that is what God wants! Or maybe I will have an amazing financial aid package, making a way back to school this fall- but in spite of that, God could still want me here in Utah. What I really want is to follow God's direction. Coincidences do happen, and if I start interpreting tangible phenomena (such as finances) as the infallible word of God, then I will get myself in a whole lot of trouble. So this decision depends greatly on how my provision works out, but more important than that is what God's will actually is, regardless of how I might interpret any earthly happenings. 

Naturally, determining God's will isn't simple either- and really that's a subject that could fill many books, so I won't get into here. I am just trying to listen with an open heart and avoid projecting my own desires and prejudices on the situation. There is also the possibility that God is giving me a choice here- after all, doesn't God preside over both Longview and Eprhaim? He is in both places, and where I go, he is there. He could have good things for me down both paths, and he is leaving it to me. Keeping that in mind, I need oven more discernment.

I would appreciate it if you, friends, would lift me up in prayer this week. I should be hearing back from Financial Aid any time now, and after that comes the decision. I have to be very careful to listen to God and not to myself. I need wisdom now, perhaps more than any other time- because this could determine more than just my disposition for the next year, but longer-reaching effect of what role ministry plays in my life, and perhaps even what the rest of my life looks like. I need wisdom. Pray also for God's provision for me either way- both options incur costs and require effort. I've raised some support to cover living expenses this summer, but if I stay in the ministry, that I will be looking at raising recurring support.

Through all this, I know that no matter where I am, God is with me. God's power isn't diminished by any wrong action I might make. Regardless of my physical circumstances, so long as I am pursuing him, things will end up alright. After all, the battle is already won, is it not?