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December 26, 2011

posted Dec 30, 2011, 8:51 PM by Olivia Russ

Finishing With Purpose

By Shawneda Marks
This week's topic: Finishing Well

School was the place I found my solace and love before I moved in with my foster family. I craved the positive attention from the teachers then the way I crave God’s presence now. I moved to Atlanta to pursue my higher education. When a janitor accidentally threw away the files of sixty incoming freshman, I lost my independent student status and was unable to continue my studies while they tried to sort out the mess he made. With two other siblings in college, my foster parents couldn’t afford to pay my tuition. It devastated me.

By the time everything was straightened out it was too late for me to qualify for the grants and loans I needed to pay for school. For two years I struggled and worked two and sometimes three jobs trying to save up to pay and fix the problem created when my file was lost. No matter how hard I worked, something would go wrong and I couldn’t get back in to finish at my original school. My return to college became an obsession; the jobs I selected and everything I did gravitated around getting a degree.

During the third year of trying to finish college, I rekindled my relationship with God. My desire to finish school and realign my life with the plan I drafted in high school began to change. Deep down I had begun to associate my worth and ability to offer something to the world with having a college degree. Education had become an idol in my life because it defined my worth by how much of it I possessed. The more I learned about God, the more I learned about who He said I was and the purpose for which He created me.

The principals governing my life—when I was willing to do almost anything to graduate—changed. My heart and mind opened to the truth of what determined my worth based on God’s word instead of having a degree. Serving God and being debt free conflicted with my original path, but was the path God’s word illuminated for my feet to walk. My appetite to please God and complete the work He formed me to do became more important than meeting a deadline. I realized finishing well didn’t have to mean finishing college the way everyone else does or expects you to do it. Finishing well means doing what my Father in heaven sent me to do, trusting him to qualify me to do it, in a way that pleases him.

Scripture Of The Day: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28 (NIV)