It may not look much, but I submitted this this morning, my final thesis for my Master of Philosophy (Sciences)!! It feels so good to have accomplished that, and to have seen that chapter of my life right through to the end.
As part of my acknowledgements I wrote the following to my parents…
After my honours I thanked you “for encouraging me to go with my heart and to not put things off, because life is too short and you never know what might happen in the future”. Even though we were once again reminded that we don’t know what the future will hold you are still encouraging me to go with my heart.
During my honours my family had learnt how short life can be, and how quickly our own plans can be forced to change. It was their encouragement after this lesson that helped me decide to continue on to postgraduate research. However, during that next period of time as a postgraduate science student we had another lesson that the future can be unpredictable. And yet, even now, my parents are still giving me advice to go with heart, and I love them for that.
One of the songs that I was listening to as I drove into uni to handover my hard-bound thesis was Unfinished by Mandisa.
‘Cause that world I painted
Where things just all work out
It started changing
And I started having doubts
And it got me so down
But I picked myself back up
And I started telling me
No, my God’s not done
Making me a masterpiece
He’s still working on me
He started something good and I’m gonna believe it
He started something good and He’s gonna complete it
So I’ll celebrate the truth
His work in me ain’t through
I’m just unfinished
I think the song helps to sum up the biggest thing that I learnt during my time in the lab. Bigger than learning how to grow delicate microscopic crystals and then shoot them with X-rays. Bigger than identifying the importance of a chemical bond in an interaction that could be targeted to treat cancer. Bigger than being the first recorded cloning of a particular gene sequence from a fungal species that is responsible for causing lung infections (and also identifying that the previous annotations for the gene sequence were inaccurate). Bigger than publishing three journal articles and two novel protein structures.
The biggest thing I learnt was that God has a plan for me, and he’s not yet done with me. That even when the current circumstances might fill me with doubt, God is still good. He won’t ever give up on me or fail me. That He has begun something good in me and He will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6).
I remember sitting in my supervisor’s office a couple months after starting my postgrad research and him asking me how I was going. My response was that I was loving it, that I would happily remain a research student for the rest of my life. When I could no longer continue because of an RSI-aggravated injury I started having doubts about the future, and it did get me down.
But I’ve seen that God wasn’t done with me yet. Yes things have changed, but God’s still got a plan for me. He started something good and I’m gonna believe it, He started something good and He’s gonna complete it.
That’s the biggest lesson I learnt, that I hadn’t reached the end or the finish line (as dismal as it looked), but rather things are still unfinished. God is still working, He is still good, and He will see it through to a proper completion.