The Lord’s Dealings with Me on Higher Education Training
I really never thought I’d be writing an article on this topic. I’ve always thought that this subject was a personal matter between God and the individual considering it. I didn’t think there was a “truth” to be found, just merely determining if this was God’s desired will or no. I felt I had an excellent, balanced position on it, and was proceeding down the path of that thought. Then God began to speak to me.
Up until the time I got saved, my life was marked with a deep sense of pride of my family, and a whole lot of worldly ambition. This was inherent; I did not chose those qualities, but possessed them all the same. When the Lord changed my heart, the desire for the world left, and I was greatly humbled. However, God doesn’t change our basic personality. Deep within my subconscious mind, certain lines of thought were there which with I had no reason to account. I liked “rich” looking things. I was not drawn to plainness of dress. I valued too highly the opinion of men and the world. I loved God with all my heart and for no reason at all would I step into sin to please my humanity. Yet… why was I drawn? I had given up all to follow Jesus and did not have the slightest desire to go back.
Jesus began to lead me into a deeper consecration, a hollowing out of myself, so that He might reign supremely. I consecrated and consecrated, letting go of all myself, until at last I knew that Jesus was completely first and in control. I was submitted, consecrated, willing and ready to be or do what Jesus wanted. It was as the song says:
Within my heart were fond ambitions,
Vain pride and hopes of worldly fame,
But still remained a place so vacant,
Unfilled by highest earthly aim.
Then Jesus reached His hand to help me,
“Come, seek my love,” I heard Him say,
I quickly left the world behind me,
To follow Jesus all the way.
The world was behind me, but my love and consecration were yet untested. And through the next few years, I found that to consecrate only once, was to lose at the beginning. For like many children, the devil doesn’t take “No” for an answer easily. I found there were many things to submit to God, my feelings most of all. It seemed that the inherited sin nature I had was gone, but the devil would bring them back in the most subtle, beguiling ways. I realized that if I were to ever take one step away from closely following the Lord, I would be lost.
This said, let me share with you my “considering college” struggle. I had always assumed I would go to college. Neither of my parents did, but I had strong encouragement from one set of grandparents, and I just liked the idea. At ten or eleven I couldn’t tell you what I would do there, but I knew I was going. I didn’t receive encouragement from my parents in this direction, but I maintained that I wanted to go. Considering my youth, I don’t think my parents really thought about my desire. Years passed, and I felt more intensely that I wished to attend; at this time, specifically to gain a teacher’s degree for elementary education. I had always loved children, and had some areas of responsibility. I taught preschool one year to a couple of girls, and that strengthened my desire to go to college. I felt the Lord’s blessing in teaching. I wanted to be trained further. At this time I was publishing, teaching, doing my own studies, and caring for a little girl after school. I knew that if I went to college when I finished high school that 1, I would no longer have time to publish, 2, the little girl I was caring for would have to go (Her mother had no desire to raise her—could I really push her out?), 3, I would, of course, have to quit teaching at the present. Essentially, college would take four years of my life—I couldn’t do anything else, really, between working to support going, and going there itself. I prayed about it a lot. I worked schedules in my mind to see how I could do some of the things I knew God wanted me to do as well as go. God gave me the scripture, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 13:16) I said, “But this is to further Your work. I want to be better equiped to teach for You.” God got it across to me that it was me and not Him that wanted me to go. Did I really think that God’s training ground was a huge, secular college? The Lord humbled me as I realized that I did not have the strength to withstand the huge doses of humanism I would receive. I had been like a person contemplating going out to a river and holding onto a tree branch a few inches from the water where the current flows an opposite direction. I would have drowned, spiritually speaking.
College now far from my mind, I turned to pursue the steps of the Lord leading me toward His work in teaching. A few more years passed and I still hadn’t finished high school due to some ministry work. I began looking at seriously finishing up my work so I could teach school full time in my own home. Because I was caring for two children now that were in public school, I was involved enough to see some of the happenings there. Some of it fascinated me and gave me ideas for my own classroom; other things opened my eyes to the infinite neglect children receive when in large classrooms with half-hearted teachers. There was obviously a great need for teachers. Some teachers I admired and learned from; in many ways I began to think more and more that I could teach at home for a while as I needed experience, and then go to teaching “professionally” some day. Oh, how subtle is the devil! Sowing these seeds, the subject of college once again resurfaced. Would I go back on what God had told me? No, but this time, it was presented in a more platable way. I could take a correspondence course, and still be at home to care for the children! I would not be submerged in the worldly atmosphere on the college campus. How dangerous it is to reason things in our minds! I prayed about this, but I really didn’t have the thing submitted to God. I jumped to the conclusion that He was giving me the go-ahead and bounded off to enroll in a correspondence highschool to give me a diploma that would gain me entrance into college. This mistake was to cost me much in trials ahead. My insensitivity to God’s will fogged over the communication line between God and me, and though I still talked with Him, our relationship was more distant. Blessings and victories seemed to be few and far between. I wish that what I have written was not true. I wish I could say I kept in close contact and never strayed from God’s perfect will. However, the above is true, and I write it as a warning. We are excitable human beings and tend to run off in tangents according to our feelings. It is so important when praying about any decision where feelings and emotions are involved that we stay entirely submitted to the will of God. We must not move until we have definite direction. If I had done so, this story may have been much shorter.
During the time I studied in the correspondence school, I tutored, taught summer school, and subscribed to numerous teacher’s lists over e-mail. I began to hear quite a few “inside” things from many public school teachers. The hated regulations and restrictions that made it impossible to teach effectively did not sound compatible with fulfilling the burden I had of touching children’s lives. More and more the Lord opened my eyes to the fact that He was calling me to help children escape from the public school institution. I cringed at this. I didn’t want to be known as a “child stealer”—and looked down upon from the educational system. I admired certain teachers and winced at the thought of being on the “ememy lines” against them. For if I were to homeschool children, taking them from their public school classes, I knew how I would be considered. An outcast—is that what I was called to be? It was if I were looking out over two camps—one promised a comfortable, respected position where I could do a lot of “good”—the other, I would be considered a “traitor to education,” a misfit and trouble maker, and child stealer. It would be infinitely harder to get to the children as most are trapped in the public system. Surely I could do much more good within than without?!
About this time, it became apparent that one lady we knew was in real trouble with her nine-year-old daughter. The child had become quite listless. Her mother had pushed her into an accelerated learning class at school, and she was actually a little slow. This had resulted in the shutting down of her mind as there was too much pressure to think. She was now going in the fourth grade, but could not spell words such as “pet” or “rat.” She could slowly do basic math facts such as 5 + 4, but that was about the extent of her learning. She did read some, but comprehended nothing. We had a burden for her, and the Lord worked so that her mother was willing for me to school her. This left me with a fork in the road: would I choose the path to teaching at an institution where I would have the praise of men or would I go the difficult route of taking the children that nobody wants? I am thankful that by this time, God had been working on me, and this was not much of a choice. I died to the idea of being accepted and liked by other teachers and educational places. I died to the idea of ever fitting in anywhere on earth. I continued my high school correspondence school knowing I needed to finish school, but college was not my goal. I knew God had other plans, and I was ready to do His will. Fall of 2001 found me teaching a small class in a classroom God had built on the back of our deck. It was small, humble, and adequate. Though there were those that turned it down because of the “poorness” of it, I was content. This was God’s way for His classroom and I was happy to be His servant.
The devil was not yet satisfied. He knew my tendencies, and once more devised a cunning plan. There are in our neighborhood two little girls whom we have known since babyhood, and who desired very much to be homeschooled in our school. Their situation, however, is complicated by the fact that their divorced parents are divided on the issue of schooling. The mother desires homeschooling; the father, a teacher, is totally opposed. Taken to court, this issue was decided that homeschooling was not an option, but private or public school would be acceptable. I have long carried a burden for these girls, and prayed much that God would make a way for them. As their desire increased, so did ours, and we began to look into what it would take to become a private school. I had obtained a Christian school’s Teacher Certification, but I was fairly certain that this would not be satisfactory to the father of the girls. This was fine for becoming a private school, but knowing him, I was sure he would take it back to court, proclaiming me to be an unfit teacher, just as he had done with his wife. This would jeopardize the rest of my class as well, I thought. I prayed and prayed about this matter, laying it again and again before God. College was closed. What were my options? I received no answer in prayer. In retrospect, I believe God was testing me to see if I would again jump the gun and go ahead on my own.
At this time I received a letter in the mail from my correspondence school. The contents shocked me. It was a notice of some regulations that had been overlooked at my registration. I had been out of compliance with the rules for nearly a year and to my consternation, these regulations must be observed to receive any credit or diploma (high school). I was devastated. A year of credit, a year of getting up at 3 a.m. and studying until school time, was lost—gone! My parents tried to encourage me that the knowledge I’d learned was not lost, but I couldn’t see past the lost credits I’d worked so hard to gain. Truly depressed, I wished I could quit school, quit teaching and simply crawl in a large hole.
But life goes on. I still had seven students to teach five days a week. How could I encourage them in school if I quit myself? I knew the Lord had allowed this to happen, and prayed for the good that I knew He had in it. I’d had many reasons to be unhappy with the correspondence school, and my parents encouraged me that it would probably be better just to do work on my own, get a GED, and study as I taught. I was at another fork in the road. Should I, 1, do school on my own and get a GED, 2, switch correspondence schools, 3, start over with my present situation? Of all options, #3 was least appealing, with #1, a close runner-up. I examined my motives and felt thoroughly confused. I knew that God was not the author of confusion, but I felt pressure to make a decision. If I were to choose working at home and go the GED route, I faced the prospect that the father against homeschooling could make a case against me, and shut me down from teaching. I wasn’t sure how it would come out in court, but I didn’t want to find out, as the judge that would rule was the same one who had decided against the mother teaching them. I wasn’t anxious to find his ruling on a seventeen-year-old girl with only a GED and Christian school certification. If I continued with the school I had, I was sure he’d find complaint because of numerous reasons. If I switched, the thought came to me, I could find a well-known correspondence high school that hopefully he’d respect and the schooling of the girls’ could be settled out of court. I prayed and laid this all out before the Lord for many weeks. The only answer that ever came was the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. Over and over, this scripture came in my personal devotions, in prayer. I knew this was my answer—yet, it didn’t seem like an answer. Finishing high school wasn’t an option—especially since I was teaching—how could I simply be “still”?
My thoughts began to formulate enough that I realized that what I really wanted to do was to switch schools. It seemed liked a logical and disciplined thing to do. I’d find a good, well-known, respected high school, finish off there and…. what? What would I do? The question of college had been settled. Why go to a good, well-known, fully accredited high school? Why not, unless I was going to college? Why did it matter that it was well-known and respected? Why were those qualities important? I said, “It’s because of the girls. Their dad will respect my school and teaching if I’ve graduated from a respected high school.” The Lord reminded me that this man was one of the most irrational men I’d met and many times acted totally without reason or consideration of facts. This was quite true. My number-one reason was now gone, but the feeling of desire for this plan of action was still there. I didn’t understand it. I said, “Lord, why do I feel this way?” I realized that the only reason I wanted to attend a fully accredited school was because I still did want to take a correspondence college course after that. The little foxes had come again and unwittingly, I had let them spoil the vines of my consecration.
But the devil said, “What would be wrong with taking the correspondence school? You have to finish high school. After that, you could just take some college courses… and become a real teacher. (As if teaching seven children in my own classroom was not real enough!) He also recalled to my mind a story I’d read about a man who wished to become a doctor, but lacked the funds to go to college. So he wiggled his way to the position of being an apprentice to learn the trade, and then stole the identification of another doctor that carried the same name. He studied books, learned his trade well, and simply cut through all the “red tape” to a high-paying position in the medical profession. After 27 years’ practice, he made a mistake that killed someone, and ended up in prison on fraud. Satan whispered, “That is what you are doing. You want the easy way out—you know you don’t have the brains for college, so you’re going to learn the art of a con artist!” It is dangerous to listen to the devil. I began to feel cornered. I did not wish to be a con artist. I felt my lack and inability as a teacher, especially after teaching a full time crew! Was I proud to resist the idea of more training? I wanted to be qualified. Thoughts raged through my brain.
One Sunday morning I sat listening to a message on David and Goliath when a revelation of truth hit me. The minister was reading from 1 Samuel 17, wherein David had come before Saul, at Saul’s request, to be seen before going out to fight Goliath. Saul was protesting his youth and lack of military training. I thought, “David had not been through their equivalent of West Point, therefore they did not have confidence in him.” How I could identify! It was true then, too, that if you had not gone through man’s tests and training, they did not accept you. But as David went on to describe his experiences with the lion and the bear, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “No, David had not been to ‘West Point’—he was trained by Me, for My work. David was My servant, and I taught him. You want to be qualified—if you are to become qualified for My work, it will be through Me, not through a professor of college! I train My workers—they train theirs; which field are you laboring in?” This hit me like a ton of bricks—I realized then, that whatever advantages a degree in teaching might give me, I would lose the only thing worth having—Jesus, as my teacher and guide. No matter what “good” I would be able to accomplish, this path had not the worn feet of my Commander. No, I wouldn’t have the thorns bestrewing the path; I would be free from the cumbersome sense of a traveler with no home, but at what cost?
There’s a line that is drawn by rejecting the Lord,
Where the call of His Spirit is lost,
But you hurry along with the pleasure-mad throng;
Have you counted, have you counted the cost?
Have you counted the cost, if your soul should be lost?
Though you gain the whole world for your own?
Even now it may be that the line you have crossed;
Have you counted, have you counted the cost?
The cost may be great to give up every inch of the world’s ways, but to accept it is to reject the Lord, which has greater costs than we can fathom. It is far, far better to leave the easy route and live for eternity.
What path did our Master take? Did He go to the “colleges” of His day? No, but He spent 40 days of school in prayer and fasting before begining His ministry. God was His teacher, and if we want the same blessed life Jesus lived, we must take Him as our trainer as well. If we really want to do some good and accomplish the purpose for which we were sent, we will have to go through God’s training school. I feel certain that to take any other route and then try to do the Lord’s work will result in an inability to do anything for the Lord as we will be filled up with the ways of man. At the least, we will have much unlearning to do, and God’s school still to go through before we can be of any use to Him. How much better to simply follow Him from the start!
Writing this article has not been easy. Sharing some of my difficult struggles—“soul-baring,” someone put it—has not been my choice, but the one of my Leader. I am sure that I will hear from some of you violently disagreeing with me, and others of you will disdain to even write, but disagree all the same. I am sure that the popular theme song, “The Lord leads everyone differently” will be paraded. To this I wish to answer now: You may differ from me in anyway you like. You may go to college and enjoy its blessings and curses, but you will have to answer to God for yourself. For me, the fact that the devil tried in so many ways to trap me into going, is a red flag. If he cared so much about my attendance, I can be sure that to go would have been to my soul’s damage. If the devil worked so hard at this, am I justified in coming to the conclusion that it is a rather dangerous place? I ask that you consider these thoughts and not brush them off lightly.
Many of us are coming to the place where our consecration to be “all the Lord’s” is being tested by the pressures of young adulthood. This time may not be as easy as when we first gave our hearts to the Lord, but continuing and renewing of our consecration is vital—and absolutely worth it in the end.
The rest of the words to the song we first quoted: All the Way.
In His steps,