Daring to Dream the Impossible
God––inexpressibly holy, unimaginably creative, incomprehensibly loving, unshakably faithful, and astoundingly daring. I have concluded that there is such a thing as a holy dare and I believe God employs it more often than we realize. Admittedly, His dares include an element of guidance, instruction, and providence, and as such are to be regarded not as options, but as biddings. Not to be misunderstood for the trivial, God’s dares are transformative. Once undertaken, they are critical to our spiritual growth.
The Bible is filled with true accounts of individuals who accepted God’s dares. One Old Testament patriarch built a giant boat while preaching of a coming flood when it had never even rained. And he did this before mocking spectators for more than a century. Another man believed that God would give him a posterity as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand of the sea shore. But, he was 99 and his barren wife was at the ripe, old, and postmenopausal age of 90. One fellow, although initially hesitant and lacking in rhetoric, dared to stand before the world’s greatest power and demand the immediate liberation and evacuation of millions of slaves. The Bible also tells of a young orphan girl who was led by the Lord to the pinnacle of earth’s ruling empire to audaciously advocate for His people. These individuals bring to light the results of willful acceptance of God’s bidding. Of Noah, the Bible says that he walked with God, (Genesis 6:9). Abraham was the friend of God, (James 2:23). Moses saw the very glory of the Almighty pass before him (Exodus 33:22, 23) and Esther was appointed queen “for such a time as this” in an act that changed the course of history (Esther 4:14).
Another real-life account that I would like to share is my own experience with the Lord. My parents emigrated from Angola in the 1980s amid a civil war that lasted nearly three decades. The quest for Adventist education led us from Angola to Europe, and finally to Montemorelos, Mexico, where I grew up. When I was 10, we immigrated to the United States and began a new life in Texas.
Throughout this journey, we’ve had ups and downs. It hasn’t always been easy and our family has faced a fair share of challenges. Nevertheless, as God has literally led us across the globe, He has opened doors and provided incredible opportunities along the way. Looking back, we're overwhelmed with gratitude for His care and providence.
Several years ago, I decided to study medicine and become a physician. Although I was excited by the prospect, I had some insecurities. Sometimes I would question if I was competitive enough and if we could even afford the application fees, much less tuition. I wondered if this dream was even realistic. In response, God would refresh my memory of how He had provided down to the last penny when my sister and I were both obtaining undergraduate degrees. As international students at one of the local state universities, we could not qualify for federal financial aid. By God’s providence, my sister, Elisa, discovered a Texas bill that qualified us for in-state tuition. That was the first of many doors He had opened. I recall the times when the university would drop our courses after the late-registration grace period, yet we were compelled to continue to attend by faith. Each time, the Lord would deliver and we would be reinstated. During the thick of it, it seemed like these challenges were getting in the way of our academic pursuits. In reality, our college experience was the training arena where God taught us to rely solely on Him. For that, I cannot be grateful enough. But God had a greater challenge, a greater dare coming my way.
One night, as I earnestly prayed for God’s will regarding my desire to go to medical school, it fully dawned on me for the first time: my career goal did not make sense. The math did not add up. In fact, there was no math to calculate. I simply did not qualify for federal financial aid like all the other applicants, and I would be crazy to think that I could summon hundreds of thousands of dollars for tuition before enrolling the following year. The last thing I asked of Him that night was that He would clearly show me whether the desire came from Him or not.
During my prayer and study the next morning, there was no evident response. A short time later, however, I noticed an email with the subject line, Go For It. There it was, there was the dare! The email was a daily devotional that I often skipped. As God would have it, the day’s topic was on daring to set forth on a seemingly impossible journey and trusting the Lord even when it seems preposterous and laughable from the human perspective (based on Luke 5:1-10). It concluded, “Most of the time it’s not a matter of having the goods, but of hearing the bads. Don’t give up, God is with you.”
The message was clear and I resolved to move forward without looking back. I have come to understand Bible promises in a much deeper way. My faith was occasionally tested during medical school. Especially notable was the day the Dean of Students kindly urged me to sign a Leave of Absence since I had fallen behind on tuition payments, despite my family’s strenuous efforts to keep up. It was the end of my third semester and the school had been very patient. I had to pay the outstanding balance in full before I could continue my studies. It required a lump sum of over $31,000 and we had 10 days. My family and I discussed and prayed. We had nowhere near that amount. In short, we came up with $3,000 and God came up with the rest! God used a selfless couple, family, friends, and others in an incredible way during the toughest moments. To them, and for them, I am infinitely grateful.
I have seen the power of God’s Word be manifested and open doors I once thought impossible. I praise Him immensely for blessing me with a community of family and friends that believed in what He could do. I praise Him for people like my mother, whose unmovable faith encouraged me to take God at His word. I praise Him especially for the trials; if it had not been for them I would not have understood how to lean and trust in God alone.
I have learned that every challenge, obstacle, and difficulty is a perfect opportunity for the Lord to show His sovereignty and unending love. That is of far greater value than any knowledge gained at any earthly institution. By God’s grace, I obtained a medical degree in May of 2016 from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. My journey is certainly not over and the lessons left to learn are still many. But this I know: what He has done for me, He will do for you and so much more. God—inexpressibly holy, unimaginably creative, incomprehensibly loving, unshakably faithful, and astoundingly daring.
Edna Gouveia, M.D., is a post-doctoral research fellow at Ochsner Medical Center near New Orleans, Louisiana, and is in the process of applying for residency, where she plans to pursue neurosurgery. She is also a talented cellist and fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, and English.