“It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.” (Act 14:22 HCSB)
He had only imagined himself as a farmer. He loved the out of doors and the smell of dirt and livestock and hay. He played with toy trucks and tractors and watched with rapt attention when grown ups would work on real ones. Then, one day when he was almost six years old, he heard a voice in his head, “You’re going to be a doctor. I have stuff for you to do.”
Off and on for months he would hear the voice again, “You’re going to be a doctor. I have stuff for you to do.” Finally, he asked his uncle who was a physician, “What do you have to do to become a doctor, Uncle John?” His uncle explained the process and, right then and there, he decided he was going to be a doctor. The voice stopped. He entered the first grade determined to be a doctor.
You’d think the road ahead would be easy for someone who at such a young age had that much clarity of purpose. After all, most people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up until they’re grown up! Here’s a kid entering his first year of school knowing exactly where he’s going and exactly what to do to get there. It should be a cakewalk, right?
Not exactly. The young doctor-to-be had a brilliant mind but had a form of dyslexia that made writing and spelling difficult for him. Then, after college it took eight years of applying to med school before he was accepted. During that eight-year period of frustration, he continued taking master level courses while working as a paramedic to support his family.
Finally, after eight years of applying, he was accepted to med school – two weeks before class was to begin. For the next two years, he woke up at 3am on Monday mornings drove five hours to med school. He’d drive the five hours back on Fridays and pull double shifts through the weekends as a paramedic.
After beginning his residency, he switched to the night shift on his paramedic job. Often, he’d pick up patients at night as a paramedic, then, be their doctor the next morning. But, one morning he came home sick only to find that his wife had walked out, leaving him with their two small children, one of whom was also sick.
He spent the rest of his residency and most of his fellowship as a single dad working two jobs and taking care of two young children. He slept little. He wore the same clothes for three years and only ate at the hospital where he worked so he could afford food and diapers for his kids.
Against all odds, he finished his fellowship and began his practice. Eventually, his wife came back. He thought his life was taking a turn for the better. That is, until the day he came home to discover his wife had left again, this time taking the kids. He lost nearly everything in the ensuing divorce. He had to start moonlighting again to make ends meet.
Before I tell you the rest of the story, let me just point out that most people quit applying to med school after their second rejection. Most people would’ve taken the hardships as a sign that they misheard God. The fact is a lot of us give up on our dreams because the road to achieving them just seems too hard. This is because we have a secret belief that if God is calling us to do something, then, He’ll make the way easy for us.
The road to excellence, fulfilled dreams, or satisfied purpose is seldom easy. This is one reason so many people don’t live with purpose or see their dreams fulfilled. They opt for a path with less resistance. My cardiologist, on the other hand, is living his dream because he didn’t give up facing these and many more obstacles in following God’s will for his life.
One day my doctor friend was thanking God for the incredible blessings in his life: his dream family (a different wife and two more children), property, and practice. Then, he heard the same voice he heard when he was almost six, “All this is a reward for being faithful.”
We may have to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God. We may not always see rewards on this side of eternity. However, we can be assured of this. God has stuff for us to do. If we persevere in trust and obedience to Him, we will one day stand awestruck in front of treasures in heaven and hear His voice saying, “All this is a reward for being faithful.”
© Paul R Downing