Last year, Lindsay was my favorite friend and most eager disciple. But this year something changed, and I recognized a subtle shift in Lindsay's priorities. In preparation for a crucial exam that would determine the future of her college education, Lindsay had gradually let studying take priority over her relationship with God. She stopped attending the weekly family party, rarely read her Bible, and kept having excuses for not attending our Book study.
Four months ago, my leader Cher had randomly joined me for lunch with Lindsay. That day we told Lindsay that if she would put God first, He would take care of everything else in her life. She agreed that she should take time to read her Bible more, and pray. And for a couple weeks she attended our weekly Book study. Yet over the months, Lindsay made herself scarce, studying for hours day after day. I was so busy with my other friends that several months passed with only a few phone conversations between us.
Then for two days in a row I couldn't get Lindsay off my mind. On Tuesday, the usual girls couldn't make it to Bible study that night. My evening was suddenly free, so I decided to call Lindsay. When I asked how she was, expecting a trite response, I was taken aback by how distraught Lindsay sounded over the phone. “Buttercup, I'm not good at all…My exam is in ten days and I am so nervous!” I suggested we meet that night to pray together. Lindsay agreed she could take some time away from studying.
When Lindsay met me at the gate of her campus, she looked relieved to see me. The last two days had been nerve wracking for her. She had been fine until Sunday when she talked to other classmates about the exam, and then a sudden attack of anxiety and fear gripped her. She suddenly felt unprepared, even after all those months of nonstop studying.
That afternoon, God had brought some verses to my mind for Lindsay. As she sat there and read what the Bible said about anxiety and casting all her cares on God, the stress slowly started to lift. “I feel like I have gotten off the track,” Lindsay remarked. “I feel like God is so far away, and I want to be close to Him again!” Lindsay felt so aware of her need for God, yet unsure if He would take her back. She said that when I called her that afternoon, she knew it was a sign from God that everything was going to be okay!
The climax of the night came when she opened a gift and card prepared for her by Cher following our long-ago lunch with Lindsay. The gift had been sitting on my shelf for three months, waiting for the next time I might see her. Lindsay un-wrapped it to find a beautiful bottle of perfume. The card told the story of the woman who broke her alabaster jar to anoint Jesus with the perfume it contained. Cher said she had felt God prompting her to give this expensive perfume away to Lindsay. She wrote that even though it is sometimes a sacrifice to follow Jesus, He is always worth it! Every time Lindsay wears this perfume, its smell will remind her of this. And of how much He loves her. How faithful He is. How much she can trust Him. How she can give Him everything she has as an act of worship.
I wanted to cry while reading over her shoulder, so I was already rummaging for some tissues when the tears came streaming down Lindsay's face. The gift could not have come at a better time. Lindsay was keenly aware of the void she had felt the last few months as she valued her exam above her relationship with God. The perfume came as a reminder that she can let go of the thing that seemed most important. She can offer her future to God, valuing Him above all else. And in turn, she can trust Him to take care of every detail of her life, including the result of this exam.
After we prayed together, Lindsay was positively joyful. There was a total transformation from the former anxiety to complete calm and trust. “The exam? Bring it on! It's in God's hands now!” When I called her this week, Lindsay said that every morning she reads the verses I gave her. She now makes sure to start her day talking with God, and talks to Him throughout the day if she starts to feel nervous. She said she feels so comfortable now. The peace that transcends understanding has taken over. And it's a sweeter life she's happy to be living!