Nickels and Dimes

Listening to Pastor Schaller speak last night about living a prepared life, I thought of something I had written to a student just yesterday morning. He, like other students, was having difficulty finding the time and motivation to get his schoolwork done. I encouraged him to think about his high school education as preparation for his life beyond high school. I likened doing schoolwork to dropping the loose change in one's pockets into a jar on a bureau. Individually, the coins don't have a lot of value, but collectively they could be converted into something of great value in due time. Instead of of squandering the nickels and dimes on candy or bags of chips, saving enough of them could result in the purchase of steak dinner at Ruth Chris! Doing schoolwork on a daily basis may seem tedious and not of much value, but when you think of it as little deposits of preparation for the future and have faith that God will bless your obedience to prepare, it helps now and pays dividends in the future.

A few years ago, God put it on my heart to return to school and pursue a second degree, this time in accounting. When I was finishing up my Bible college education back in the early 1980s, I had to decide whether to go to college and study to become a teacher or an accountant. I chose the education route and have been teaching ever since, but God sent me back to school to study accounting. At first, it seemed like something interesting to do in order to have a second source of income, and I took the classes only halfway seriously, just enjoying being a student again in a community college setting. I was teaching accounting in GGCA at the time, and the knowledge enriched me as a teacher. But when I had taken all the courses I could at the community college level, I had to decide to make the leap to a four-year college and go after a bachelor's degree. I had no money to pay for tuition, but I put in my application to the University of Baltimore by faith, telling God there would have to be divine provisions for me to go or I would simply stop my accounting studies.

My application was accepted. Because I had joined an honors fraternity at the community college, the University of Baltimore gave me a 75% reduction in tuition. Still, the 25% remaining tuition cost was beyond my means, so I told God that I wasn't going to continue my education. Then a letter came informing me that I was being given a grant that would lower my tuition to $1000, which was all the money I had to my name. I really didn't want to use that money for school, but I felt that God was trying to nudge me into going to school by bringing in the money, so I decided to go. Once I decided to go, another letter arrived in the mail saying that I could receive a brand new scholarship for accounting students if I wrote a letter and explained my circumstances. I got the scholarship. It was for exactly $1000. By this time, I got the idea that God had some sort of plan and purpose in my continuing education, so I went and did my very best, since future scholarships and grants depended upon my earning good grades.

The following year, my senior year, God miraculously provided money again and I was in school full-time while teaching full-time in the high school. Every moment of my time was consumed with teaching, studying, attending church, sleeping, and trying to do laundry and keep myself fed. As I approached the end of my studies, the questions started coming - "So what are you going to do once you graduate? Stop teaching? Be an accountant?" I honestly did not know. What began as innocently taking classes for interest was now becoming a serious possible change of careers, and I was on my knees asking God, "What am I supposed to do? Why did you open the door for all this education? What is the purpose of all this preparation?" I was getting recognition from faculty members for my work and encouragement to attend career fairs and start lining up interviews with accounting firms, but I had no clear idea that is what God wanted. I dutifully attended the career fairs and gathered information and studied my brains out to pass exams just in case God said, "Leave GGCA and go thou forth and do accounting in the firm I have set before thee." Preparation, preparation, preparation - but for what? I was digging the ditches, gathering the vessels to collect the oil, and dipping in the Jordan River seventy times seven times begging God for clear direction for my life. I told God that whatever He asked, I would do it.

And that is how I ended up principal of GGCA. I never saw it coming. The preparation was not to become an accountant but to be ready to answer God's calling. 

So I understand the confusion that students feel wondering where everything is going and what the purpose of doing all the schoolwork is. It's like Pastor Schaller said - preparation requires faith and obedience, and sometimes you have to be cool with the fact that God isn't going to tip His hand until you are truly ready to hear from Him. We may not see the purpose in the preparation, but that doesn't mean it is pointless to prepare, because one day you'll be very glad you faithfully saved all those nickels and dimes and wrote the answers to all those review problems. God honors preparation with blessing.

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