I blinked when my husband told me what he believed that God wanted him to start graduate school in September 2013 so that he could get his Master of Divinity and serve as a hospital chaplain. The chaplain part did not surprise me. When my husband and I met in the fall of 1978, he had started to pursue a degree in practical ministries which he later changed to Biblical Studies with a minor in New Testament Greek. When we started dating, he told me of his call into the ministry. Back then, in the denomination to which we belonged being "called into the ministry" meant that God had called you to be a pastor or evangelist so when my husband said "ministry" that was what I initially thought of but that wasn't what he had meant. God did not call him to have a pulpit ministry. He called him to minister to people one-to-one, right where they were.
His desire in the early 1980's was to attend seminary and get his MDiv. God however, had a different road for him to travel, a road which he did not understand, a road that was curvy and winding and covered in fog. It was a road that didn't make sense. It seemed like a detour. A thirty-one year detour to be precise. What do you do when you find yourself on such a road? You follow the detour sign and keep on going. Though it might not seem like the detour is even going in the right direction, you will only reach your destination by following the detour.
God had a plan for Moses that included a long detour that lasted for 40 years in the land of Midian. This detour might not make sense to us until we realize that during that time, living as a shepherd in Midian, Moses would become very familiar with the land through which he would lead his people. He would learn its ways as well as the skills necessary for survival in the desert. What we might view as a "detour" was actually an intense, hands-on course at God's Training Academy.
Eventually though, Moses came to the end of the detour. It was now time for him to move into the position God had groomed him to do. He was to become the leader of his people and lead them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. There were obstacles in the way. First of all, he was in Midian and they were in Egypt. Following God would mean quitting his job and moving himself and perhaps even his family into a rather hostile environment. Secondly there was that little matter of being fugitive. Forty years had passed since he had murdered an Egyptian but still, Egypt was probably not the ideal place for him. Thirdly, the people might not accept him as a leader. Then there was that little problem with his speech. No, God must be mistaken. There were simply too many obstacles in the way.
When my husband informed me that we had come to the end of the long detour and after waiting for 31 years, it was time to go to grad school, there were a lot of obstacles as well. He had been unemployed for eight months, I had to stop working due to medical problems and uh... there was something else. For the past few years God had been helping us pay-off debt and had made it clear to us that we were not supposed to take on more. In tuition alone it would cost more than $35,000.00 to pay for grad school. How were we supposed to pay for grad school if we could not take out any loans? You obey God, that's what you do.
We prayed and my husband was accepted into the program. We had enough money left over from some backpay I had received to pay for the first class. We prayed some more, listened, did what God told and waited to see what God would do.
I happened to be with my husband the day he went to admissions and then financial aid. Sixteen of his undergraduate credits qualified to transfer over and could be applied toward his MDiv. The out-of-pocket expenses for grad school was suddenly reduced by over 21 percent. This was great news! Then we met with someone from financial aid who shoved loan papers at us. My husband looked at me and I looked at him. Then he shoved the papers back and said, "No loans."
He was told that he didn't understand, he qualified for... No. We understood that perfectly. Apparently she was the one who did not understand though it seemed clear enough to us. No loans. She shook her head sadly at us and sighed. Then we would have to go down the hall and see someone else so we could set up a monthly payment plan.
That first semester, the monthly installment was nearly $1,000.00 a month for four months. My husband was unemployed with no prospects. Unemployment was about to run out and the only other sources of income was my disability and whatever freelance work he could get. On paper, we were already several hundred dollars short every month and yet God had faithfully met our every need. Now we with this new monthly expense we were going to walk a little further from the boat. Would we keep on walking or would we sink?
Nineteen months have passed. During that time my husband finally get a full time job after being unemployed for 13 1/2 months. It is less than what he used to make but it is a job and we are thankful for it. The "gap" between our income and living expenses has been closed but there is no money for tuition. At least, there isn't supposed to be.
There aren't a lot of scholarships out there for people who want to be chaplains unless you want to go into the miliatry. At 54, that's not an option for my husband. However, the university he is attending has only one scholarship for graduate students and it just happens to be for students who are pursing... you guessed it, becoming a hospital chaplain. He was awarded that last year and has been awarded it again for next year. With the transfer credits and the scholarships the out-of-pocket amount for his degree has been reduced by more then 30 percent. Each month, when the school bill comes due, one way or another, God has provided the funds for it to be paid exactly on time.
When God calls you to do something, do not be discouraged when you enconter detours. God knows exactly what He is doing whether you understand it or not. He has a reason for you taking that route so simply keep on following Him. Do not be discouraged by any obstacles that might come your way. If there were no obstacles we might foolishly start congratulating ourselves on what we have done, failing to recognize that it was God who did it. Obstacles provide opportunities for us to get a glimpse of God at work and to grow in faith.
Image courtesy of CNaene at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A wonderful testament to the power behind God's call when He calls us to do something; and I like the point you made when you wrote: "If there were no obstacles we might foolishly start congratulating ourselves on what we have done, failing to recognize that it was God who did it. Obstacles provide opportunities for us to get a glimpse of God at work and to grow in faith."
I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you for sharing these details!
Wonderful, wonderful, and again wonderful testimony to ones obedience, trust ad waiting on God and in a God who is faithful and whose word can be trusted. This is living by faith not sight, not just one person but three yoked together by the HS through Christ. A beautiful picture of oneness for which Christ prayed before his death.
"If there were no obstacles we might foolishly start congratulating ourselves on what we have done, failing to recognize that it was God who did it."
It's a good reminder of why we have to show hope in adversity, thank you - when we say, "I can't" we must not forget the unchangeable "God can". I am glad and filled with praises to hear your testimony of how he has provided for you and pray that you will be blessed for sharing this encouragement with us.
Thanks for this blog,
Such a great story of faith, trust, obedience and an awesome God remaining faithful to Himself and the call on your lives. Thank you so much for the encouragement though not able to 'see it.' If God call, he shall see it through.
I vividly remember walking through this living history with you and I know the power of God that has abundantly blessed you through your faithfulness. I pray that as you continue to walk the path of faith that God will pour out his richest blessings upon you on a daily basis.