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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Double Duke

In case anyone missed this news, Jack is going to Duke.

And of all the happy people about this in the world, Julia may be the happiest.  These two have been almost like twins their whole life.  With all the dispersion in our family, having two children in the SAME UNIVERSITY feels like a real gift.

The process this year was far from sure or pain-free.  Jack had some great options; he also had some unexpected rejections.  When he was interviewed for a full-everything Gates Foundation funding in Duke's University Scholars Program, we tried not to get our hopes up about those elusive eight spots. So when he got the news that he was chosen for the scholarship and academic program, it was a very sweet confirmation that God had opened a nearly-impossible door, and this was the path he was supposed to walk.

A few days later, I was reading Psalm 16:
I have said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord, all my good depends on you.' . . .
The Lord himself is my portion and my cup;
in your hands alone is my fortune.
My share has fallen in a fair land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel . . . 

The great thing about the Psalms is their spectrum of emotion, because you can almost always find one to fit exactly what is happening in your life.  In this case, dependence upon God for good and for counsel, and affirmation of a share falling in the fair land of Durham.

But even this celebration is not without shadow. First, our celebration is tempered by the sober realization of the dozens, hundreds, thousands of kids who are equally deserving and yet did not win scholarships.  We are hesitant, trying to tread the line of sincere thanks to God, acknowledgment that our fortune is in His hands, while respecting that kids with a different story are equally loved.  We want to testify that God has sent us a provision we didn't even know existed until a few weeks ago, a pretty incredible turn of events for missionaries earning the kind of minimal salaries that could NEVER pay for such an education.  But we also acknowledge that many of our friends and relatives also struggle financially to provide for their kids.

And second, realizing that having the Lord as your portion can be a painful experience.  "The Lord is my cup" juxtaposes with "Let this cup pass" and "Can you drink this cup"?  The cup from God's hand is not unmitigated ease, in spite of the wonder of this blessing.  One of my most relatable mom-stories is the mother of the disciples who asks for them to succeed in the Kingdom, and Jesus' reminder that the path to glory is one of suffering.  That those chosen to lead must be slaves; those chosen for honor must reach it through the cross.

In spite of the mixed emotions, the complexity of God's unpredictable ways, tonight we resonate with the end of the psalm, my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices, phrases that echo in Mary's joy over her son and ours over our son.  And we thank our partners who have prayed for Jack and for us.  We are grateful.


Joshua Trott said...

Thanks, Jennifer. Loved reading this and it turned my heart toward praise. I have a former soccer player at Duke- hope they run into one another!

Anonymous said...

So. Wonderful. !! And also, thank you for writing. This greatly encouraged my heart today in ways I didn't know I needed. xx
Rebecca Slesser