“I’d like to have the Anatomy & Physiology 101 book, please.” The student worker behind the reference desk eyed me over her glasses.
“Didn’t you just have that book this morning?”
“Well,” she sighed. “I guess since no one else has asked for it you can have it again.” She reached behind her and pulled the textbook off the shelf.
I found a quiet spot in the corner of the library and dug out my notes. It took two hours to catch up with the rest of the class on the reading assignment before I finally took the book back to the reference desk and left the library. It was approaching dusk as I started back to my apartment. The streets of the small downtown were deserted since the day workers had all closed their shops and gone home. The town looked as desolate as I felt.
I was discouraged. No doubt about it, the stress of working thirty hours a week and carrying a full load of classes was beginning to beat me down. Studying Biology was not easy, and studying it without textbooks was murder. But the only way I could afford college was to do the work/study program and after the tuition was deducted from my monthly salary, there was no money left for books. No one knew about my lack of textbooks so I’d at least been able to save face. However, I was growing increasingly concerned about playing catch-up at the end of every class day. I went each evening to the library to read the reference texts but a few hours was not enough time with the books. I was falling farther and farther behind and I knew it.
As I walked I breathed my prayers. “Lord, please, help me. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so tired and I’m trying very hard. I’m afraid I can’t keep up and I’m going to start failing my tests. I don’t want to flunk out now. Not now, Lord, I only have two semesters to go.”
I knew I had accomplished much with many hours of hard work and many more hours of cramming in the library between my work schedules. I felt tears gathering at the thought of failure.
I looked up at the milky twilit sky and watched a flock of sparrows flitting between tall buildings. I was reminded of scripture that says if God knows even when a sparrow falls from the sky, then how much more will He care for me?
“I have to trust you, Lord. I will trust you.”
The next day, the halls were crowded with students rushing from class to class. I had already arrived at my anatomy classroom and was waiting for the last student to file out from the previous class. A young woman I didn’t know approached and reached toward me as she neared.
“God told me to give you this,” she said. In her out-stretched hand was an Anatomy and Physiology 101 textbook! Before I could even whisper a thank you, she turned and disappeared into the crowd.
I stood there in total shock. I slowly turned the book over and saw the price sticker from the campus bookstore. It was a brand new textbook.
This time, the tears that gathered in my eyes and the prayers that I whispered to my Good God were of thanks and humility.
Since those days so long ago, I have lived a wonderful and sometimes hard life. I’ve had the joy of being a wife to my best friend and a mother to the most awesome boy ever. But I’ve also had the pain of saying “good-bye for now” when that same best friend, and husband, died of cancer. Telling our little three-year old boy that Daddy had gone to heaven truly broke my heart. But in the midst of my dark grief, a small light glimmered; the memory of that day when God reached down and gave a hard-working, despairing student a gift from His own heart.
I know now that the book was really a gift for my future. God was giving me the gift of hope, love, and peace for my entire life, no matter what it might bring. I will never again doubt that God has me in His care. “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”
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