Yesterday, my US student visa was approved. Lord willing, I will be studying in Pensacola Christian College (PCC) starting this September.
Many people know that I had applied to universities in Hong Kong and Singapore before, all in vain. Many know I’ve been preparing to go to the States for a while already. Yet there’s a story behind my journey to PCC, an invisible story written inside of me.
PCC is known for accepting and training homeschool graduates well, and I had long wished to study there ever since the fliers and catalogs began to arrive many years ago. Yet back then, my dad could not fund a North American education, and nor would he leave his only daughter alone in Florida.
Therefore, when the time came for me to start college applications, my parents disregarded PCC and applied me in Asia. I obeyed. After all, those were good universities they chose. Yet inside of me there was a twang...there was an idea tugging at my brain of how much more I'd experience freedom and independence if I were on the other side of the planet, away from parental supervision. I liked Asia, but it wasn't far away enough for me. I wanted independence, or so I said.
It’s true that I love independence; it's in my personality, upbringing, and pride. Yet as with all things, sinful nature attacks. That love for independence often turns to longing for self-sufficiency and autonomy. During that period of time back then, it turned even to rebellion.
I wanted to be away and "free." I wanted to exercise control over my life, free from submission to my parents’ god-given authority. I held secret hopes that studying abroad would be my chance to break free from expectations, all without rebelling outright.
In my heart, I harbored hidden fantasies. I dreamed of being so distinguished in my field that people would beg me to work for them after graduation, against my parents’ wish for me to return. I imagined meeting someone who would win my heart, convince my parents, and marry me away from my life here. Sometimes, to sound more spiritual, I would envision a call to a far, unreached land...and my parents would certainly be unable to argue against the calling of God Himself.
There have been even sillier fantasies than these, yet all with one similarity: I was thankful for the life God had given me, but discontent with containing myself within that life. I wanted to break free. I wanted to study abroad for wrong and selfish reasons.
After my denial from the Asian colleges last year, my dad told me to apply to PCC. It seems stupid that I should apply to this school only now, when I had known it for years. It seemed crazy that the Asian universities wouldn't give me a final word of rejection until it was already late August, way too late to apply for PCC's 2007 schoolyear. Yet God has His plans. Dad has oft repeated that this is apparently the way God has led him, and led me.
And as I look at myself now, I realize why God would not have me leave any earlier…
I have changed. Somehow, through direct teachings, prayers, and so countless occurrences in the past year, God has changed me.
When the lady at the embassy asked me if I intend to return home after studies, I answered yes wholeheartedly. It's not because of sentimental ties or legalistic requirements. It's because of the change inside of me.
I want to study abroad to learn, to grow...for His glory. I want to concentrate on studying, not on having fun with my independence. Growth and independence are no longer goals in themselves, but parts of a process of preparing myself to serve Him better. And at the end of the day, Lord willing, I will return to my Asian roots...for the harvestfield of souls is most abundant here. My heart has been severely humbled.
I cannot conclude God’s purposes in the past and coming years. I just know that at every moment, He has His perfect timing.
I've long wanted to study in PCC, and God has granted me the gift I had asked for. Yet He had withheld it firmly from me, until I was ready for it. It is the same gift, this gift He has prepared...but I, the one to whom the gift is given, had to be made ready for it first.
I am thankful that God had not let things transpired earlier than this. If I had, I would have left Manila with a proud, rebellious heart and a discontent attitude. I was not ready for the gift, and God knew that. And even today, I am discovering with fear and amazement how much He knew that I did not.
I am not perfect, but I guess I am ready for this particular gift now. And as I look ahead in life to all the things I still want--in ministry, family, life, love, and achievement...I try to remember this lesson.
Some of those gifts might not be for me, and God will surely withhold them;
Some of those gifts might be perfect for me, but I am still unready, perhaps severely unready.
A gift cannot be a perfect gift unless the given is fit to receive it. There's nothing wrong with the gift, and definitely not the Giver, but there might be something wrong with the given. God still has an incredible amount of work to do on me before these things come.
Making the given fit for the gift...God has taught me with more than a few big things in my life. I pray hard that I remember, lest the pain has to come again, and perhaps with wider and direr consequences. And may He continue to mold me still...for the perfect tasks, and the perfect gifts, in His sovereign plan.