Gradschool Pt. 2

If it weren't for God, graduate school would have already killed me. The fourteenth testimony shares another of His miraculous doings.
Graduate school is stressful; that may be the biggest understatement I've ever made. As a Ph.D. student, the difficulties I face related to school are unlike any challenges I had before. If you are given a project in undergrad, and your project is only partially complete at the end of the deadline you turn in a partially complete project. Partially complete could be anywhere from an F to a B, maybe even an A. Once you have your grade, you move on to the next assignment. You can fail some of the assignments and still make a decent grade in the class, then you move on.

The Ph.D. doesn't work like that, especially not in Computer Science. To graduate, I need to complete 3 "major" projects and publish papers on each project (as well as pass a qualifying exam, proposal and dissertation defense). My second project relies on a sensor network that I designed to collect and relay pertinent data from the school cafeteria. If the sensors do not work, I can't get the data I need for the rest of my project. Unlike undergrad, when the semester ends, I don't get a range between A and F that assess how much of it I succeeded in completing. Further, I can't graduate without completing the project to the fullest.

In January, I had a working prototype that I'd spent the previous semester creating. All I needed was to adjust the power consumption to maximize the longevity of the power supply, and I could deploy the devices for data collection. However, just when I thought everything was perfect, the device started to display unusual and sporadic behavior. One week it would work fine, the next it wouldn't run at all. Since mid February, I've been trying to diagnose and fix this bug. Neither my advisors nor the hardware manufacturers could explain the behavior I was witnessing, and while that verified that I wasn't an idiot, it also sent a wave of panic down my spine.
Photocredit: Mercier

It started to feel as though God didn't want me to continue in this path. God has moved me for a variety of reasons to a variety of places during my studies and I was starting to think God was placing a wall in front of a path He didn't want me to go down. After 2.5 months of spinning my wheels, Wednesday brought me to the end of my rope. I had tried everything I knew twice and it just wasn't working.

Wednesday night, I asked God to speak to me; to confirm His plan for me and to help me.

Thursday, He brought me the answer to part of the problem. By the end of the day Thursday, my code was working again, I had a logical explanation for the sporadic behavior, and a solution to the problem. However, of the 2 prototypes I had, only one worked. Thursday night I thanked God and prayed that I could figure out what was wrong with the hardware.

Friday, within 30 minutes of getting to my office, He showed me what was wrong with the hardware. Not only did He show me the problem, but He surrounded me with people who could help me fix the problem. The major difference between Thursday and Friday was that no one was in the office Thursday afternoon. Had I found the hardware problem after I fixed the code, no one would have been there to give me any advice on how to fix it. Because God knew I couldn't fix it on my own, He let that information sit until Friday morning, giving me just enough time to get it fixed and tested before the week's end. So by 5pm Friday, I had 2 working devices that I could leave running all weekend!

God knew that I was at a breaking point. It wasn't that I was beginning to doubt God's abilities, but that I doubted my interpretation of His plan for me. I was starting to think that maybe He'd never intended for me to get a Ph.D.; that would explain why I'd had drastic potholes in my path, like switching universities and one failed project already under my belt. I didn't want to continue doing something He didn't want me doing. I knew that if God was putting a wall there, the devil would never be able to break through it. That's the beauty of choosing God then letting Him make the decisions. Just like the storm prevented Jonah from going in the wrong direction, God will stop me from wandering away because I continually ask Him to. Conversely, the devil may try to trick me into thinking God is trying to stop me or try to convince me to doubt God by standing in the way of my progress, but God is capable of moving the devil. If God is for me, not even the devil can stand against me.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?Romans 8:31 KJV
Nothing is more wonderful that entering the Sabbath with the knowledge that God has spoken. I asked to hear His voice, and He opened both my hears and eyes. How wonderful is that!? This is my 14th testimony.

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