“O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.”  That’s Elijah’s prayer in 2 Kings 6:17a as a strong force of Aramean soldiers surrounds the city of Dothan where he lives, intending to capture him.  His servant is freaking out a bit at the sight of these soldiers, and comes to Elijah asking, “What shall we do?”  Elijah is cool as a cucumber and simply asks the Lord to open this servant’s eyes.  What did the servant see when God answered this prayer?  “He looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elijah.” (2 Kings 6:17b)

 Take a minute to imagine what that must have looked like – it’s an astonishing picture!  Now imagine what it must have felt like to see this circle of protection – reassuring, confidence-building, secure, and strong.  Oh, how wonderful it would be to experience that feeling!  But so often we set aside a story like this, saying that this is ancient history and things like this don’t happen today in modern times.  Or at least, if we believe they do happen, they happen to other people.  But is that really true?

It’s actually pretty simple to have this type of protection, for any of us at any time.  Psalm 34:7 tells us that “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”  The Message paraphrase puts it this way:  “God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.”  So the only thing we need to do in order to be surrounded by hills full of horses and chariots of fire is to seek the Lord in prayer?  Yup.  It’s that simple.  God’s protection is available to all of us, not just people who lived centuries ago and not just the people that we seem to think are more worthy.  Us.  You and me.  Wow!

We can apply this truth to any number of life situations, including illness, conflict, injustice, loneliness, etc.  Since this is a blog about college admissions, we’ll apply it to the experience of researching colleges, applying for admission and paying tuition.

What strong force of enemy soldiers do we face in college admissions?  The enemy doesn’t roll in on horseback anymore.  He rolls in on a wave of doubt, fear and anxiety.  Nagging questions plague us, questions like “Will I be admitted?  Can we pay this tuition?  What if my test scores aren’t high enough?  Will that final grade in (math, English, science, etc.) keep me from being admitted?”  When we see that enemy roll in, it’s time to ask God to open our eyes so we can see and feel the protection that he offers.

That hill full of horses and chariots of fire will give us the feelings that we’re longing for – reassurance, confidence, security, and strength.  It will remind us that we’re not alone, that God stands beside us no matter what we face.  That includes college planning.  God is ready to fight off the enemy attacks of fear and doubt so that He can show us the way to go.  Once we stop worrying, we can focus on asking God which college will truly be the best match from every angle.  It will be the right distance from home, offer the right majors, match our academic expectations, provide opportunities for spiritual growth and allow us to be a good steward of our financial resources.  When we feel secure in God’s protection and guidance, we can hear His answer and move forward in confidence.

Psalm 34 continues in verses 8-10 to paint a picture of what happens when we seek God:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.  The lions may grow weak and hungry,

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

Whatever stage of the college planning process you are in at the start of this school year, be it attending your first college fair or submitting applications, take a deep breath and a quiet moment to seek the Lord to ask for His protection and guidance.  And should the enemy roll in on his wave of anxiety during this process, take another deep breath and quiet moment to seek the Lord again.  Picture that hill full of horses and chariots of fire.  Trust that you will lack no good thing when you seek the Lord.  So be it, Amen.

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