Friday, May 23, 2008

Milestone or Stumbling Block?

Here's the guest post I promised you, from my niece, Kristi. She has some great thoughts about perseverance, waiting, and trying to find God's will for the next phase of life.

Recently I had a major milestone in my life. I graduated from college at the not-so-tender age of 34. This is such a blessing, and I thank God for it, because He gave me a second chance. Because it is such a wondrous event, something I had hoped to do for a long time, and because it was something I had to work extremely hard for the second time around, the expectations of what would come next were, and are, incredibly high. They have been so high, in fact, that as I come back down to earth after graduation, I am having a hard time finding my footing. It makes me wonder, am I enjoying the milestone of my graduation, or turning it into a stumbling block on the path to the next thing?

The road to this point has been one which certainly required perseverance. The main perseverance which I experienced came not from myself, though, but from God. My past is filled with many things of which I am not proud, which is one reason I did not make it through school the first time. Although I always believed in Christ and really felt that I did love Him, I spent lots of wasted time living my life the way I wanted to. I took advantage of God’s amazing grace. But His love truly persevered. He never gave up on me, and I look back on some of those moments and am truly amazed at the extent of God’s incredible mercy towards us. I wonder sometimes why it is that I am so loved by Him, that He should care so much about someone who has lived such a life. But it is really not about me, but about Him. That is who He is, and He will never give up on us. We can see this in the Bible over and over as He dealt with Israel through the centuries. He would punish them and be seemingly at the end of His mercy with them, but there was always more. There was always that open invitation to come back to Him. Thank God His love and mercy are not dependent upon us, but upon Him. He enabled me to quit smoking and get registered for school, all while going through one of the worst periods of my life. He got me through school, and supplied me with a great job while I went. That is God’s power at work in my life.

The next display of perseverance came from my family. I would not have made it through the last few years if it were not for the incredible love and support of my mother, my father, my wonderful grandparents, and yes, even my sweet aunt Robin. These are people who have seen me go through many difficult times, many of them self-imposed, and who never once said, “You are on your own.” If they could help me, they have helped me.

I remember one really dark day back in 2005. My marriage had fallen apart, and I was having to leave the house which had become my home over the previous three years. I was faced with the awful task of going back several times to this house where some of my things still were. Barely a week had passed and my soon to be ex-husband had already replaced things I had taken, such as the washer and dryer. Redecoration and reworking of areas in the house were underway that quickly- and I had to go back in there and see how easily I was replaced. In the middle of all of this, my car broke down, and needed a repair that would cost $5oo.oo. My mother and my aunt took it upon themselves to make the 100-mile trip, bring a truck, and help me haul the rest of my things out. I never had to go back to that house. Then, my family selflessly helped me in getting a new car. So, I persevered, but I didn’t do it alone.

There have been many long, long days and nights filled with lots of work and practically no social life, but they were always with that goal in mind- to graduate, and I am so thankful to God that I did. I don’t want this at all to seem like I’m not happy about my graduation. I just don’t want it become a stumbling block. Now what, I wonder, and so far, the answer has not come. Most of us probably understand that this does not mean there is no answer, just that God is not ready to show it to me yet. And most likely there is not ONE answer, but many answers along the way. I have been looking for a giant beacon which leads me to that grand destination- that thing that God put me on this earth to do. Probably, the real truth is that there are lots of steps along the way, lots of things for me to do. It is a difficult thing not to feel a little lost these days, after having been so singularly focused over the last 2 ½ years, but as long as I stay on God’s path for me, He will guide my way, most likely a little at a time. If I keep my eyes on Him, and remember how He brought me through and always had a plan for me, my graduation will remain a milestone, and will not become a stumbling block.