You're nervous. Very nervous. That stomach-churning kind of nervous. You wonder if you'll ever get the money you need for college. And even if you do manage to make those initial payments, you've still got three more years of payments. And bills and loans and interest piled onto all of that.
Time for a question:
Whose money is it?
Well, flip through a Bible and open to Psalm 24, verse one:
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" (NIV).
This isn't just a Sunday school answer. It's an amazing truth. God owns it all! Oh, sure, the bank may keep loads of cash locked away in a thief-proof safe. And guards in armored trucks may keep would-be robbers (and desperate college students) at bay with machine guns.
But the reality is this: If God truly owns everything on the whole planet, in the entire universe, then he also owns that green stuff stamped with pictures of old presidents.
If God wants you in college, he is completely capable of providing the money you need. Sure, you may have to work hard at the local fast-food restaurant. You may have to search the internet, the library and every service organization in the country for scholarships. And, yes, you may have to take out some loans.
But if God wants you in college, you will get there. He will provide.
However, there is a catchif you could call it a catch. When the money arrives, it's not yours. It's not even the college's. It's still God's. If it never really belonged to the bank, it sure doesn't belong to you.
God wants you to use the money as a kind of "heavenly loan." You pay it back by being a faithful servant, by making good use of the money God provides.
Remember the "Parable of the Talents?" In this parable (Matthew 25:14-30), a rich guy gives three of his servants some talents (a lot of money in that day). Two of the servants work hard to invest the money well, and they each make the master a good chunk of change. The master was happy with them. But that third servant just stashed the money under his mattress and didn't make his master a single penny. The master was not pleased.
You see, God wants you to wholeheartedly invest your life and, yes, your money in good and worthwhile things. He wants you to make your life and your money count for his plans and his kingdom.
So does this mean you can't get that occasional piece of pizza or an ice cream cone after a day of grueling studies? Of course not. God loves you. He's not out to destroy your fun. He wants you to enjoy what he gives you. He does, though, want you to use his money wisely.
What's this mean?
Well, first off, it means giving a portion of your money to support God's work and the local church. Many Christians believe this means giving a buck for every 10. Whatever amount you give, though, it's important that you give willingly and sacrificially. And your giving must never be "showy" or done with a bad attitude (see Mark 12:41-44).
Using your money wisely also means earning what you can and saving carefully. Again, God will provide. But he doesn't want you to sit back and enjoy a free ride. He wants you to be responsible, disciplined and mature.
And then when you do have a little left over for a movie or some pizza, be sure to stop and give thanks. Not only for the pizza or movie, but for the way God provides for you each and every dayand that includes the money you need for your education.