Susanna in a school hallway

Susanna's Journey

When it was time for me to go to college, it was not long into my college search that I became completely convinced that Cedarville was where I needed to be. Having had two older siblings graduate from Cedarville, I had already visited campus multiple times and heard many stories about what made a Cedarville education such a positive and life-shaping experience for them. Much to my despair, financially speaking, my parents were convinced that Cedarville was not an option for me. The kind of debt that I would need to take on to cover my tuition seemed to be far more than that was financially prudent. Even so, the earnest desire of my heart was to enroll at Cedarville. I thought that I was going to make that happen by applying for every scholarship I could dig up. I did, but did not get a single one. 

Since Cedarville was something that my parents and I disagreed over, the time we spent waiting to see how the Lord would provide was difficult. I so desperately wanted to earn my Cedarville education, to prove to my parents that I could handle the financial responsibility of college and to wipe away their doubts about whether God wanted me at Cedarville. Yet, my efforts to earn enough scholarship money were not paying off. I was terribly discouraged, but a glimmer of hope came when a $2,000 scholarship fell into my lap — one that I had not even applied for! I was grateful for those funds, but they were not even close to what I needed for Cedarville. Spiritually, I was confused. 

I thought, “Lord, don’t You want me at Cedarville? Can’t You see that I am doing all I can to get there? You know my desire, so why won’t You grant it? Haven’t I proved how hard I am willing to work for it? What more can I do? You have to make a way!”

In my frustration and discouragement, God convicted me of lacking a posture of obedience that reflected genuine surrender to His will. I said I wanted Cedarville because He wanted Cedarville for me, but in my self-dependent desperation, I turned what I thought was His plan into my agenda. He wanted to change my heart before He clearly directed my steps. While transforming my perspective, He comforted me with Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The desire of my heart was still Cedarville, but I no longer insisted that God give it to me. He taught me to ask Him for it in obedience, trusting Him for the outcome.

My scholarship money from Cedarville came in waves. As I waited to see what the outcome would be, there was a steady struggle to center my heart in obedience. My scholarships were adding up, and weeks before I graduated high school, my parents let me enroll. They were still unsure if they had done the right thing, but the Lord gave me total peace that stepping out in faith was the right decision. He had provided enough for now, and that was more than enough for me.

Freshman and sophomore year at the ‘Ville were full of life-changing lessons and opportunities, as well as spiritual growth that continually kept me on the edge of my seat. I had begun my Cedarville journey with my sights set on a teaching career in China, but I was realizing that the journey to getting there would hold much more than I ever imagined. In God’s timing, during spring of my sophomore year, I was looking ahead to my first visit to China in the coming summer. That spring should have been all excitement, but my parents’ concerns about what my next two years at Cedarville would look like financially brought panic. They wanted me to discontinue my education until I could better afford it. I couldn’t imagine doing that. “Leave everything? How can that be what God wants me to do?” I wrestled with God over this. “Lord, You brought me here — You made a way! Don’t You want me to stay? Don’t You care what I want?” Obedience flooded back to my mind — where was mine? Was I at Cedarville for myself or for God? Was my refusal to let it all go a sign that I truly deserved it or a sign that obedience was never really my motive?

One particular chapel song brought me to my knees during the week when it felt like Cedarville was slipping out of my hands.  “I give You all my life, I’m letting it go. A living sacrifice, no longer my own. All I am is Yours. I give You everything, to You I belong … All I am is Yours.” Singing those words opened my eyes to “the big picture.” God is not asking me to teach in China. He is not asking me to become a teacher. He is not asking me to be a Cedarville student. He is asking me to obey Him — no matter what that entails. If obeying Him meant leaving Cedarville, I had to do it. He would give me the strength. My heart had dramatically changed, and I set out to do the unthinkable — withdraw from school. 

I promptly visited the Dean of the School of Education to let him know that I was not sure if my Cedarville education would extend beyond that semester. Before I could get all the words out, he cut me off. He knew of my intentions to teach in China. He also knew that that made me eligible for an additional scholarship, a scholarship that would definitely keep me at Cedarville. I left his office in tears and unspeakable relief, with a quote by George Mueller’s running through my mind: “My Lord is not limited; He can again supply.” Less than a week later, that scholarship was officially mine. My Lord had again supplied. Once again, I had not earned my Cedarville education. He had freely given it to me.

Looking back on those circumstances as I look ahead to graduation, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. God’s amazing provision of a Cedarville education for me has completely transformed my relationship with Him and my understanding of how He works. In His provision, I have completed two teaching internships in China and am now preparing to serve there permanently after graduation. But, my hope is not in the teaching degree that I will be handed in a few months, nor is it in my move to China. My hope is my faithful Heavenly Father, and I am moving forward in obedience to Him.