Thursday, May 15, 2008

Celebrating God's Faithfulness

“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22

The unbelievable has happened. I am walking across the stage on Saturday to receive my Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from Capital Bible Seminary. I can hardly believe it. I lived.

When I started the journey two years ago, it was with fear and trepidation. I left a successful teaching career behind to journey out into the unknown. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done. When I told people what I was doing, I knew they would think I was crazy. Heck, I thought I was crazy. But the pull was strong. There was little doubt in my mind it was what I was supposed to do. And so I took the plunge. I walked away from my best friends in the world, my support, my community, at AACS. Since kindergarten, I had wanted to be a teacher. My career was more than a job to me. It was an identity. That, too, I regretfully abandoned in pursuit of this new road.

I’ve never been a strong student. I am better at teaching than I am at learning. But I attacked my courses with determination. If hard work was what it took, I was ready.

It did take hard work. But seminary demanded so much more. And soon it became apparent that it was demanding more than I had to give. Not far into the first semester, I realized to my dismay that the work load was more than I could handle. It wasn’t humanly possible to do what I needed to get done.

One day, a guest professor quoted from 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” As I sat in that classroom, the truth of this passage hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. I was the earthen vessel. A cracked pot. Imperfect, weak, fallible. Undeserving of the privilege of containing such glory. Anything good that came out of me was a result of what I had inside me. Like an old, cracked cup containing the world’s finest wine, it wasn’t about me or what I could do. Instead it was all about what dwelled within me.

Here was the amazing truth: the bigger the cracks, the greater chance of His glory shining through them. I had plenty of those! So I began to pray. Not me, Lord, You. Less of me. More of You. You will have to pick me up and carry me through this. I can’t. It is just too hard. No thunderbolt came down from the sky. But for the first time, I was at peace with my situation. I couldn’t do it. But Jesus could do it through me.

And that, my friends, is how Julie Coleman made it through two years of seminary. Not by her power, but by the mercy of God. Oh, I continued to work hard. But everything I did, I did through the empowerment of the Lord. And the Lord was faithful to provide. He gave me great ideas as I wrote papers. He helped me recall those vague or obscure facts as I took exams. He increased my understanding as I worked through ancient Greek.

He also brought people alongside me to cheer me on. My husband never once doubted the course I was on. He kept urging me to just work on the next thing. My kids were awesome, frequently expressing their support and pride in what I was trying to do. Beth Smith became my dearest friend as we met for lunch once a week. She lifted me up countless times when I became discouraged. I look at each individual encourager, and there were many more than these, as a direct provision from the Lord. They were wonderful expressions of the faithfulness of God in my life.

Now, two short years later, it is finished. Exams are over. Papers are written. It’s all over but the celebrating.

But I won’t be celebrating my accomplishment. Because I know from the bottom of my heart this has not been my accomplishment. I stand in awe of what God has been to me and for me as I struggled through the journey. I didn’t deserve what He did for me. I’m not even sure why He wanted to-- except for the fact He is good, all the time.

As I walk across that platform on Saturday, I will give the honor and glory to the One who has proved Himself above what I could ask or think. I am grateful beyond words, and humbled at His faithfulness. Is it any wonder that I love Him?


Heather Nicole said...

Hooray! You (and Jesus!) did it! I am so proud of you and I know our heavenly Father is too! Way to go!

Rene said...

YEAH!!! I knew you could do it and I knew that you would grow in every way. Now you better stop by for lunch!

Julie Thompson said...

Congrats! This is so exciting. And I know this is just the beginning for the success you will receive and the guidance you and the Lord will provide to others.

Van said...

Congrats on your new degree! What a day to celebrate. The world needs caring people like you.

dave said...

Congrats Julie! I clapped the loudest for you, I know I'm so proud of you, I can't imagine how beaming proud Steve is! Lots of love, see you in the fall!