This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.Psalms 118:23
When I was five, I decided I wanted to be a dentist. My mother was sure this desire was just a phase, but at the age of six, I went to school and met a wonderful dentist who confirmed this dream in my heart. But there’s a big difference between dreaming and achieving.
In Brazil, there are two types of postsecondary institutions: private and federal schools. Though my biggest desire was to become a dentist, I was aware that my family was poor and couldn’t afford to send me to a private university. The prep courses necessary to pass the rigorous entrance exams for public universities in other cities were also out of reach.
Still, I dreamed of studying at my state’s federal university (UFG in Goiânia), so I took an entrance exam in high school. My essay grade was extremely high, and I was so happy. But it wasn’t enough, and I didn’t pass. The following year, I was really confident that if God wanted to, He could help me pass. That year, I enrolled via a different program with different phases. I passed the first, aced the interview, but in the second phase, I failed miserably. My world came crashing down. I had already arranged a place to live in the big city, analyzed which buses I would have to take, studied what I could do to buy the instruments I’d need… everything was in place except the main thing—a spot at the university.
I went home devastated. I returned to work, to my life, with one certainty: this dream isn’t for me, and I need to accept that. On one of those sad days, a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while sent me a message with an excerpt from a song by Robson Fonseca that said:
However big your dreams may be,
God’s Dream is bigger;
He knows what you ask for,
But what He wants to give is better ;
You can’t understand today,
For you only ask what fits inside your hands
Infinite are God’s dreams for you.
I cried, thanking God for that message, and I felt relieved, even though I didn’t know what God was preparing for me.
One day, I was at a friend’s party when one friend turned to me and asked, “Pri, did you apply for the entrance exam in Mineiros?” I laughed and explained that Mineiros is a private university, and since I could never afford it, I didn’t even want to apply. She came close to me and said with firmness, “Get ready, because I am going to take my cousin there for the entrance exams, and I’ll pass by your house to take you too.” Once again I replied, “No, I didn’t register because even if I pass, I won’t be able to study!” She said, “Pri, just get ready. My dad is going to help my cousin, and we will find a way to help you too. You’re going to study!”
I was paralyzed, but I grasped the opportunity with both hands. To summarize, I got in, and every day I celebrated as if it were the first day. I did my best to get good grades to avoid having to retake any classes, as that would mean more money. I counted the pennies, rarely went out, divided the tuition into as many payments as I could, and wore the same clothes and shoes during almost my entire time at university. In short, I did everything I could to reduce the burden of those who set out to be my support network.
All things work together for good
When I look back, I realize how much God loves me. Instead of allowing me to pass and attend a university in a big city full of dangers, where I would have to wake up at dawn to catch the bus and return home in the dark, He sent me to a much smaller and quieter place. He prepared a place for me to live practically next to the university without having to pay rent (though I always tried to contribute with food, at least, and dedicated myself to cleaning). I was surrounded by friends who never criticized me for my religious choices. They were studious and interested in hearing about Jesus. They lent me their things without question when I couldn’t buy them, gave me clothes and shoes, took me on outings, and made me feel like part of the family.
On the day of my graduation, I burst into tears when I was handed my diploma. I was afraid to wake up and find that it was just a dream. In fact, for a long time, I would wake up at night and think, “The Lord did this! It’s real!” If I achieved nothing else in my life, I would still have reason to be forever grateful. God performed a miracle in my life. Although I despaired at times, He took me by the hand and led me to places better than I could imagine.
Sometimes God says, “Wait.” At other times He says “No”. But, don’t despair or be afraid. Our dreams can’t compare to what God will accomplish in our lives. I hope that very soon you will be able to look back and say, “I’m so glad that the Lord performed His will and not mine!”