It was the Friday before I started my second year at UP. And I still had no place to live. Living on campus was too expensive for me. I considered commuting, but that meant an hour’s drive from Salem. I prayed I didn’t end up with that option, especially since I didn’t have a car yet. I had asked around for places to rent close to school, and nothing reasonable nor affordable had appeared. I tried not to get anxious or stressed about my current situation. I tried to place my trust in God. I thought, “He will provide. God always has, and I trust He will.”
Finally, on the Thursday before classes began, my dad and I took a trip to Southwest Portland to look at a room his friend had for rent. They were willing to work with us on the price, but it was still about an hour’s bus trip to UP. We thought this was going to be our best option for now, but I really hoped that something better would come up. Regardless, I knew God would grant me the graces I needed to make it work. I was grateful that at least I didn’t have to commute or go in to debt by living on campus. I trusted in the Lord because He had always taken care of me and thus far had always provided for my needs.
Even in a mindset of trying not to stress, I had peace — a peace that comes from knowing that God will provide as long as I am seeking Him first and living according to His law of love. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33)
After taking a look at the room and talking with the family, we decided to stay the night and take the bus to UP the following morning so I could be sure of timing. We took the bus and got to UP on time for my (theoretical) first class. There wasn’t a plan for the rest of the day, but we decided to “seek the kingdom of God” and to listen to the Holy Spirit prompting us to walk over to Holy Cross Parish nearby. We fortunately arrived in time to attend Mass. We went to give thanks, to lay my situation at the foot of the cross, and to surrender in trust. And God graciously took our imperfect offering and provided in abundance.
After Mass, a lovely lady turned around in her pew, and, noticing I wasn’t familiar, she asked me what I was up to. I explained I was about to start my second year at UP. And then – in a gesture that I firmly believe was inspired by the Holy Spirit – she asked me if I had a place to stay. I told her about potentially staying in Southwest Portland, and she said “That’s so far! I have a place you can stay! Let’s talk outside.” Surprised beyond belief, I followed her out. She told me that her place was a block away from UP, and that she was looking for a quiet, female, nursing student to stay in the upstairs part of her home. God had providentially brought us together. Not only did a stranger offer her home to me, but she also offered it at no cost! God is truly never outdone in generosity.
This example of God’s providence is not a lone example. I have noticed how the Lord provides for me when I am seeking His kingdom above all else and when I try to live according to His will. He indeed has given, and continues to give, everything I need.
The astonishing thing is that God is extremely merciful and faithful even when we don’t succeed in putting Him first. But do not be afraid to trust and to surrender your plans to His. I am amazed at how much He has provided when I completely trust in Him. I encourage you to not only seek God first and live according to His commandments, but also to radically abandon yourself to His providence, for God will provide for all your needs.