January 7, 2019

The Robe

"There will come a time in our lives when it takes courage to say "No" when we are faced with temptation, when we know something is not right. But we must have the courage to say "No."

After 26 years as a registered nurse, I was finding it increasingly difficult to advance in my profession. The position I desired required a Bachelor of Science degree, which I did not have. As I reasoned what to do, the thought struck me that, since I’m having difficulty finding a suitable job, it’s probably best to pursue an advanced nursing degree, especially since there are plans to relocate someday in the near future.


 In January 2014, I enrolled in an online program, but was in for a rude awakening. I quickly realized that I was not computer savvy. Someone in the business office asked me to “copy-and-paste” a document; while this might be a basic computer skill for many, it proved difficult for me. Nevertheless, I still persisted in trying to make it work. 


As the class began I found myself desperately trying to learn how to use the computer and, before long, I was lost and confused. At the end of two weeks, much to my surprise, I discovered I had an assignment due the next day, which also was the Sabbath. Right then and there, I made up my mind that the program was not for me. As it happened, a coworker soon told me about a nursing program where I could attend classes once a week and meet face-to-face with the professor. This program was an answer to prayer.


After three years of heavy toil, I finally completed my degree and was eagerly anticipating graduation. However, when I received the graduation notice, I couldn’t believe it — it was on a Sabbath. “No! Oh, Father no! . . . I called my family and explained my predicament. Their response was, “Well, God will understand if you go to the Saturday commencement.” I said, ‘No! We serve a God who says what He means, and means what He says.’”


I went to the university to explain my situation to the admissions manager/counselor. She promised to relay my concerns to the office of the associate vice-president for Registration. The long walk across the campus was filled with tears. After so many years of trying to earn my degree, how could I not celebrate the joyous occasion? Driving home, I blamed myself. “Dawn, what did you expect from a Catholic university?” Then, I softly said to myself, “Lord if I cant walk across the stage at graduation, I wont walk. Youll have to work this one out.”


The next day I began planning how to solve the problem. Maybe Oakwood University would let me walk across the stage with their baccalaureate students. Or perhaps I could kill two birds with one stone by attending my girlfriend’s son’s graduation from Loma Linda University and marching at the same time. The answer to both of those thoughts was No. I turned my eyes back to God.


After three days in anguish, I returned to the university registrar’s office. She greeted me with a smile and said, “We can’t let you walk in another university’s ceremony. I’ve talked it over with the other administrators and they said, during Thursday’s pinning ceremony, they will do a graduation just for you!” “Thank you, Jesus!” I cried out, as I burst into tears of joy.


There will come a time in our lives when it takes courage to say “No” when we are faced with temptation, when we know something is not right. But we must have the courage to say “No.” Abraham had to make the ultimate decision to obey God, to sacrifice his only son. I’m sure he contemplated this difficult task a thousand times. “Did I hear God right? Should I or shouldnt I do what God asked? How can this be? God had said, “I will make you the father of a great nation.” 


Another example is Joseph. The Bible states he had a good physique and was handsome. Yet, he had the courage to say “No” to Potiphar’s wife. “How can I do this great evil and sin against my God?” 


In the book of Daniel, the three Hebrew boys had the courage to say “No” to King Nebuchadnezzar. “We will not worship your idol.”


All three scenarios are examples of trusting in God. They all had the courage to say no, and God richly blessed them. Lyrics by John Henry Sammis say, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus.” I have come to learn this is indeed true. “Not a doubt or a fear, Not a sigh nor a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.”


Photo credit: Jean-Irés Michel


Lyrics found at: https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Trust_and_Obey/