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C.J. was running through Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois. His favorite spot to run in the city. The sky is a grayish blue as the sun is rising. C.J. is listening to his favorite album on Spotify, “Coloring Book” by Chance the Rapper. C.J. These mornings workouts were C.J.’s time to decompress and get ready for the day ahead. However, this morning, his future was weighing on him heavily.

C.J. was preparing to go to college for computer programing at MIT on a full-ride scholarship. However, there was one requirement that he must pass before the full-ride is awarded to him. C.J. must get a 82 or higher in English. C.J. was a science and math wizard. C.J. could write computer code all day long. However, when it came to writing English, C.J. does not get it. “Who actually knows how to use a comma, anyway?” He thought. C.J. currently had a 72 in the class, with only 2 months left of school, seven weeks to be exact.

Sitting on his favorite bench looking at the Crown Fountain, C.J. thought about how he was going to get his full-ride. The way anxious that he was going to not be able to get his grade up in time to get the scholarship and then he would miss out on the college of his dreams. C.J., since the time he was in third grade, wanted to go to MIT and everything he did since then was to get into MIT. If he failed to do so, he felt as the late nights of school work, long weeks of computer programming camps, and so many times not hanging out with his friends would be all for nothing. C.J. pulls out his phone and realizes the time. It’s already 7:00, and he’s got to be at school by 8:15! C.J. got up feeling helpless, took a deep breath and began his run back to the subway station.

C.J. sat on the subway and it felt like the longest subway ride ever. He was so worried that he sat in the last seat available and did not get up for the cute girl that got on after him. C.J. had his AirPods in with his head in hands looking down, simply wondering “What am I going to do?” He stayed in this position, luckily looked up and saw that he was getting off at the next stop, the King Street station. It was already 7:30 when he got off the subway and out of the station.

Once C.J. hit street level, he jogged another 3 blocks until he arrived at his house to get ready for school. He took a quick shower and threw on his clothes and as he was going out the door; he stopped real quick to say bye to his dad who was in the living room, but when he peaked in C.J.’s dad was asleep with beer bottle in hand. “Jeez dad it’s not even 8:00.” C.J. thought. Then he jogged to the subway station again and hopped on the subway to go to school. C.J. arrived at school exactly at 8:15 and walked into his first block class late as Mrs. Wright, C.J.’s English teacher, said, “Mr. Taylor… Late again, I see. This is your final warning one more time and you have on campus suspension.” She said.

English is the only class in all of C.J.’s school years where he was not the teacher’s favorite simply because of sheer good grades. C.J. stopped trying in English a long time ago. Which now he regrets because English might be the very thing that slams the door on C.J. getting accepted into MIT.

Keeping quiet, C.J. walked into the back of the room and sat in his normal seat beside the window and pulled out his things when his girlfriend Clara whispered, “What’s up? You’re not looking too hot.”

“Thanks, just what I needed.” C.J. responded sarcastically.

“Not what I meant, you jerk. What’s up!?” she whispered a little louder.

“Class is starting. We can talk later.” C.J. said.

As Clara and C.J. turned to face the front, Mrs. Wright was explaining the final project. This one project was worth a quarter of their grade. Which meant that if C.J. get’s an A, then he can get into MIT. C.J. was locked in and ready to go. Mrs. Wright when onto explain that the project was going to be a three-page research paper on the “Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which would be 50% of the project and then a quiz on Lock Down Browser which would be the other 50%.

C.J. almost teared up. Research papers were his mortal enemy, then quizzes on old books were his arch nemesis. Mrs. Wright finished explaining the project and allowed the class for the rest of the block to begin doing some research to get a basis for the culture that the Great Gatsby was written in. Because C.J. at least tries to be an excellent student in English, he began his research and found that the Great Gatsby is set during the 1920s in a fictional village on Long Island. The story is a rag to riches story of a man named Jay Gatsby, who has an obsession with getting back with his ex-girlfriend Daisy Buchanan. Then C.J. found some more random facts about the Roaring 20s and while C.J. was down the rabbit hole on YouTube videos about the Roaring 20s, the bell rang.

As C.J. was on the way to the bathroom, he ran into Tevin. Tevin asked C.J. “So I heard Wright has some wack final project for us?”

C.J. replied, “Yea, that’s a fact, bro, three-page paper and a test on a book. The book is pretty interesting though. But still. I don’t do English. I do code.”

Then Tevin said, “So just do code, forget English.”

C.J., confused but intrigued, said, “Bro, I got to get an 82 in this class or we will not be roommates at MIT. I won’t be at MIT!”

Tevin said, “I know that fool, but code works magic. For the paper, hack into a website that bots write content and have them write your paper, and then for the quiz you can work around Lock Down Browser in your sleep.”

C.J. was hesitant because he knows that’s wrong and his mom at least likes to at like they were a Christian family, even though I left the house with a passed out drunk father. C.J. responded, “I don’t know man, you know I don’t cheat.”

Tevin rolled his eyes and responded, “Bro this is MIT we are talking about. A full ride to MIT. Do you know how rare that is? The establishment is trying to keep us from getting into MIT. MIT doesn’t have many people like us there. High school is minor, just do what you got to do to get to where you want to go next. Think about it as an exploration of computer programming.”

C.J., still unsure, walked into the bathroom. When he came out, Tevin was waiting.

Tevin says, “So you gonna do it, bro? You gonna just do what it takes to get there? MIT is calling your name. You just gotta do what it takes to overcome the establishment.”

C.J. responds, “I’ll think about it.”

Then C.J. and Tevin head to their classes. C.J. spends the rest of the day thinking about what Tevin said. C.J. didn’t feel great about cheating, but he knows the chances are slim that he actually makes an 95 on this project. Weeks go by and C.J. tries to do the project the right way, but he still doesn’t feel confident. C.J. keeps what Tevin told him to do to himself. He didn’t even tell Clara. Then the decision time comes. It’s three days out before the big day and even C.J. knows his own paper sucks.

The night before the test and the due date for the paper, C.J. is sitting in his room at his desk with his head in hands. The paper is done, but he’s not confident of it, and the test tomorrow, C.J. even has more doubts about. C.J. sat in his room, defeated. Everything he worked for all his life, he was about to fall short on. No MIT, just some community college or some low-level school and then a life of poverty. At least, that’s how C.J. thought it worked. Then finally C.J. decided. He got onto his computer and looked at multiple websites that bot’s wrote content and hacked the one that seemed the least secure and, within minutes, a beautiful paper comes out three pages long on the Great Gatsby.

C.J., still wrestling with his conscience, compared the two papers and the bot’s was a thousand times better. Then it was decided. C.J. was going to do whatever it took to get to MIT. God created him for this so it can’t be a sin, right? When he showed up at school the next day, Tevin came up to him and said, “Well, bro?” Then C.J. held up the paper and said, “I’m about 99% sure that this is getting an A.” Then C.J. gave Tevin a nod to tell him he did what he suggested. C.J. Still had the paper he wrote in his backpack because C.J. was feeling guilty for what he was about to do, but he knew that his paper would not make an 95 and then there would go his life goal.

C.J. Stuffed the paper written by the bot he hacked in his bag and walked into first block English. C.J. sat down in the back as usual and Clara sits down beside him. Clara ask, “you ok man? You haven’t texted me in like a week. What’s up?”

“Just been nervous for this, and Clara.” C.J. said.

“Yea?” Clara responded.

“Do you want me to do whatever it takes to get into MIT?” C.J. asked.

“Yea absolutely, I wasn’t mad you haven’t texted me much. I promise I just was making sure you were ok.” Clara said.

“I wasn’t questioning that, just asking.” C.J. responded as the bell for class to began rang.

Mrs. Wright immediately began, “Alright, pull your papers out and pass them to the front of the room.”

C.J. literally began to sweat of nervousness as he pulled out the paper the bot wrote and set it on his desk. As he passes his paper up, he glances at the paper he wrote in his bag, but reminded himself, “This is what God has called me to do. I have to get into MIT.”

Then C.J. lets go of his paper and it gets passed to the very front and Mrs. Wright takes up his row’s stack of papers and it’s over. C.J. decided. After Mrs. Wright puts all the papers on her desk, she sits in her chair and asks the class to pull out our computer, log into Lock Down Browser and begin our test.

I open my computer and look at Lock Down Browser and contemplate just clicking it before I use the code to reveal the answers. However, I remind myself. MIT. Then choose to plug in the code that unlocks the answers. And click through, but at a normal rate so Mrs. Wright doesn’t get suspicious. However, right as I submit the test, Mrs. Wright asks me to come to her desk. Then she simply turns her computer to me and it is a recording of a computer screen. Then I see it’s my computer screen! The school has it when we are on the school campus that teachers can use an app that allows them to see our computer screens. Then I see where I type in the code and I am caught. My heart sinks into my stomach. I don’t know what to say. This is the end for me. I am never going to MIT now.

Mrs. Wright tells me to go to the principal and hands the write up form and I got to the principles office and Mrs. Hall welcomes me into her office and she asks, “C.J. why? You are so smart, so smart you hack your own computer to cheat on the test. Why not just study?”

Then I break down. I cry and explain my entire dilemma about not wanting to fail getting my full-ride to MIT and being homeless. Mrs. Hall sits in silence and chuckles and says, “Do you really believe because you do not get into MIT, you’re going to be homeless?”

I sit in silence for a second and say, “It’s everything I’ve been working towards my whole life. I just didn’t want to fail.”

Mrs. Hall reply’s, “C.J., you are so brilliant, you have believed a lie, and it caused you to compromise your character.”

C.J. replies, “I’m sorry. Can…”

Mrs. Hall cuts him off. “C.J. I cannot allow you to retake that quiz. This is not something that you can avoid the consequences of. It would not be right for me to show grace and let you take it again when so many people have studied so hard for this test. I am sorry, but I promise you, if you do not get that full-ride to MIT, you will not be homeless. I hope this teaches you a valuable lesson, that doing the right thing is always the right thing, and doing the wrong thing is always the wrong thing.”

C.J. sits not knowing what to do, but swallows to keep himself from crying in front of the principal and says, “Ok” very softly.

Mrs. Hall goes, “C.J., when God calls you to do something, he will never cause you to sin on your way there. God will provide a way even when there seems to be no way. If you would have trusted that God would help you accomplish this goal, then you wouldn’t have believed the lie that you had to cheat to get into MIT. Even when it is the hard decision and you see a better way in your eyes to do something, if it’s not the right thing to do, if it is immoral, if it’s a sin, then run away from that decision. Do things God’s way and He will take care of you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Hall.” C.J. replied. Then he got up and ask, “Am I good to leave?”

Mrs. Hall nods her head and says, “Keep your head up, God shows grace and even when you put yourself in a hard situation, God will get you to where He has called you.”

C.J. opens the door to Mrs. Hall’s office and walks to his second block, defeated and distraught. The rest of the day is a blur. C.J. is sad, upset, frustrated at no one but himself. C.J. kept saying to himself, “I thought I was depressed before. Words can’t even explain the sorrow I feel now.”

C.J. got a zero because he told his English teacher he also cheated on the paper. The final grades are entered and C.J. ended the year with a 62 in English. A couple days later he hears from MIT and C.J. will not be getting the full-ride. They offered him a scholarship that would cover tuition, but C.J.’s family would have to cover everything else. The housing fees alone, they could not cover, not even getting into the meal plans and books. So C.J.’s dream, well, it seems bleak for now.

We are told from a young age that we must work hard and do whatever it takes to achieve our goals. Many of us live our lives following that rule and sadly we get to where we want to go and we realize we are more empty and unfulfilled than ever before. The story that I based on the one above on is the story of Jacob in Genesis. Jacob from before his birth is called to lead his family. The issue is that he is the younger brother and in the culture that Jacob lived in, the older brother would receive almost all the inheritance and all the power of the family once the father passed.

God saying that Jacob would lead the family seemed impossible. Rather than trusting in God to get him there, he tricks his brother and father to make sure he is the one who will receive the family inheritance. After Jacob steals the birthright and the family blessing to lead. Jacob flees for his life from his brother, Esau. Doesn’t seem as if doing the wrong thing worked out for Jacob either.

Rather than freedom and power, Jacob went and worked as a manual laborer for Laban, his relative. Then Jacob fell in love with his daughter and works for Laban for seven years. Then the night of Jacob and Rachel’s wedding when Jacob is ready to do what married people do, Laban sends into the bedroom his older daughter Leah, who is not the one that Jacob was promised. The Bible never calls anyone ugly, but the Bible’s description of Leah is that “she has dim eyes.” You can interpret what the Bible is trying to say there on your own.

The one who deceived, now becomes the victim of deception. Doing the wrong thing is always the wrong thing. Doing the wrong thing will always lead to undesired results.

God’s way of life is countercultural, it’s different, but when we trust God’s plan, we will be blessed and we will live a life better than we could ever imagine. The question is, how do we trust God and work hard to achieve our goals at the same time?

1. Put God first in all you do.

God does not just want to be your spiritual Santa. We must surrender every part of our life to him and live life his way. Even the parts that we like about our live we must give to Him

2. Do not be anxious.

Anxiety is a sign that we are trying to live life in our own power rather than God’s. Now I am not saying that you will never be anxious following God. But in my own life, when I get anxious most of the time, it’s because I am trying to live my life my way rather than his. I am trusting my own talent, power, and money rather than trusting in the faithfulness of God.

If you want daily wisdom and inspiration on how to live the life God has for you, I have a daily 5-7 minute podcast, “The Revolution to Lead podcast”. Check it out on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music, and Google Podcast.

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