I was bitter because I felt like God had forgotten me.
My last blog post ended with me waiting to hear back from the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KUMed). After waiting a few months as the next person to be called off the waitlist, the semester started, and I was rejected. God miraculously opened the door for me to retake the MCAT, and after two months of intense studying, God gave me a score that was 15% higher than my previous score. I reapplied and started the process of waiting once again, still not knowing whether medical school was what God had planned for me.
I moved in with my parents and applied myself to trying to find a job, which proved to be a difficult endeavor. A good one came along, but I rejected it, knowing that it had the potential to interfere with the ministries to which God had called me. With fear, I turned down the offer and prayed that Matthew 6:33 was actually true. I decided to leave my parents’ house to live in my grandparents’ basement (the epitome of success) and kept on job searching.
When I was on the waitlist, I had clung desperately to God’s word. But after I received news that I was not accepted, I grew weary. I found myself depressed, wearing the same clothes almost every day and spending the hours that I was not looking for jobs either going on long, quiet runs or sleeping. I still stuck to my Bible study routine, but I felt like I was floating, going nowhere and being pulled along by my ministry partners.
Throughout that time, I was plagued by bitterness. I wasn’t bitter that God had taken away medical school. I was bitter because I felt like God had forgotten me. One night, after the C&YA Christmas party out in the country, I was struck by the idea that my life was just like the car that I was driving. Everything around me was so dark that I could not see anything beyond where my headlights shone, and even that was not very far at all. I was trapped without momentum. Isolated from Midtown by living Lenexa, it was easy for me to fall prey to spiritual attack...which is exactly what happened.
This was one of the darkest times of my life, and it wasn’t because of my situation. It was because of deception. As I struggled to find a job, I felt like there was no place for me in the world, and that things would never get better. As I waited and waited for an answer from God about medical school, I decided to believe that God had forgotten about me and that my friends had, too. I began to think that the path would never be illuminated and that I would just continue to float on forever, directionless.
Was I going to respond in faith or be paralyzed yet again with fear and uncertainty?
One night, as I wallowed in misery upon my bed, I was stopped cold in my tracks by the still, small voice of God.
“This is how you feel, Connor. But what is true?”
“Thy word is truth,” I responded after a pause. I had been crying pretty hard, but the still, small voice of God hit me like a speeding train, and I was suddenly completely sober-minded. As I pondered those words, the first verse that came to my mind was Proverbs 3:5-6.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
These verses are a promise, and God does not ever break his promises. During this season, I had been reading the word, but I hadn’t been applying it as truth. Through God’s simple question, he challenged me to move forward with the promises of God in faith. Is God’s word true, or is it not true? At that moment, I knew that I had been the victim of spiritual attack, and I understood why Jesus had responded against the devil with, “It is written...” in Matthew 4. The word of God is our only defense against the enemy that we cannot see and often forget to look for. My surety was this: If I just continued to acknowledge him to direct my paths and was assured that I could not lean on my own understanding, he would direct my paths. I just needed the faith to wait out the storm.
From then on, whenever I opened the Bible, God would show me promise after promise, and I knew in my heart and my soul that they were true. Not only that, but I had faith that they would come true in my life. I still grieved, for life was still hard, but I had joy and contentment in Christ, who never changes. God began to teach me that the Bible lights our current steps on the path and not necessarily the entire stretch of road before us. What matters is how we respond to what he has shown us. Our faith, not our strength, pleases God.
Was I going to respond in faith or be paralyzed yet again with fear and uncertainty? He taught me to be content, knowing that he does not give us a stone when we ask for bread or a scorpion when we ask for fish. He is a good Father, and faithful. If I had to write out every promise that God showed me during that time, I would be writing for a very long time.
You are not to ask questions of God’s character, because in him is no darkness at all.
In September, after four months of unemployment, I received a call about a job at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. I had applied for the job without believing that I would even be considered because the company was looking for someone with a masters degree. Stowers invited me to an interview, and the next thing I knew they were offering me a job that was absolutely perfect for ministry in all ways. That job was and still is such a blessing, and I was grateful that I had never compromised by grabbing the first job offer instead of choosing to wait on God to provide.
Soon after, I received an invitation to interview at KUMed once more, only this time I received one of the earliest interview dates, which showed that they were actually considering me for admission. I went and had a terrible interview. Then I came home and waited some more. I finally received word that I would be receiving an answer during the first week in January about early decision, and I spent time in prayer one night that week, desperately reminding God that I still existed. I told him that even though I was in Lenexa feeling isolated and forgotten, he was supposed to still remember me. After all, that was what his word said!
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
He had to finish that work! God had rescued me out of such darkness and pain and had done wonderful and miraculous things in only a matter of four years at MBT, but I still felt so forgotten, like I was suspended in a large ocean, floating without direction or momentum. This mental picture often came to my mind, and with it came feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, abandonment, and bondage.
To add more drama to my pity party that night, I decided to do a study on the word “remember” in order to remind God that he needed to remember me. Even though that was a foolish thing to do, God met me exactly where I was, and he showed me something that completely blew my mind and put things into proper perspective. Instead of God allowing himself to be told by a 23-year-old lady that he needed to remember her, he reminded the 23-year-old sinner that she needed to remember him.
Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
At that moment, my jaw hit the floor. Connor, you need to remember the God that you serve. He led you this whole, wretched time through the wilderness, but your clothes didn’t collect holes, and you didn’t hunger. He always provided. When you were deep in sin and bondage, did he ever stop leading you to a closer relationship with him? When you were his enemy, he paid your sin debt on the cross a full two thousand years before you were born so you could make the decision to accept his offer of salvation when you were just a little girl. You are the work of his hands. You are not to ask questions of God’s character, because in him is no darkness at all. Not only that, but he told me very clearly what the purpose of this wilderness wandering was!
“...to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”
God is always wanting to burn out the dross and make me a finer vessel
Boy, had I been humbled. The proud student who had always turned in tests and assignments first and had prided herself so much on intelligence and talent had been made to realize that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. God taught me that my own strengths are only weaknesses and that anything not found in Christ is dung (Php 3:8). I had to learn to wait on the hand of the Lord for even my daily bread.
The passage in Deuteronomy 8 is talking about God’s expectations for the Israelites as they leave the wilderness and enter into the promised land. That night, God confirmed to me that the hard season was about to end and that I would be going to medical school. He also gave me strict warnings for the road ahead. In verses 11-20, God warns the nation that if they forget the Lord when they enter the land due to their prosperity and begin the worship the idols of the wicked nations who inherited the land, they would surely perish. If I forget God and rebuild those idols that he so painfully tore down in the wilderness, then I will surely perish.
The next day, I prayed that my letter would come when my heart was ready to receive it. Later that day, the letter arrived in the mail, and I learned that I was indeed going to medical school. For the rest of the day, and ever since then, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” has been playing in my heart. Now, all of the pieces have been falling smoothly into place with no strife or toil.
God is always wanting to burn out the dross and make me a finer vessel, but this can only come through exposure to fire. God clearly saw what was in my heart: that I was still so young in my faith, but that I was willing to grow. He also showed me what was in my heart and reassured me that it is God who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Php 2:13). The subject of my heart was another recurring topic in my studies during that season, and my constant prayer was Psalm 51:10.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.