July 25, 2010

Message Received Loud and Clear

Today's message at church was awesome. I sat there, just enthralled with the story of Joseph, and how God planned out the events of his life and used him to save not only the Israelites, but also the entire known world (at that time, Egypt was the major power in the world). I still marvel at God's use of a young Hebrew boy, and how He manuevered him from position of slave to overseerer of the entire Kingdom. If God can rescue Joseph and establish him solidly in a foreign country, and then grow him to manhood, and give him a position of great importance -- can He not do the same thing for me, regarding my entire life and the current events taking place in it. I think so; no, I know so.

I came home with one of those "I gotta talk with you, Lord" feelings, and headed straight off to my quiet place. I talked with Him, confessed my attitude, which has been rather filled with more complaints and groans, than sweet songs and hymns. I have to say that I am better prepared, more understanding, and totally more in agreement with Him now than I was this morning. You see, all last week, I was depressed and sad. I was upset over finding my DH's apartment rental agreement, and the thought that I might have to take on all the bills before I am employed full-time. I was also upset with God, for not providing a job right away, and feeling rather put upon that nothing was seeming to happen at all. I also was disagreeable about the plans He had for me (and has -- future), thinking that somehow things were not working out the way I expected them to work out. I was generally feeling off, just not myself, and was praying and crying and confessing -- but nothing was really making me feel better. Even last night, as I fell asleep hard, I went off thinking "I don't understand what I have done, and why you are so distant from me."

It took our morning church service, and the prompting and teaching of the Holy Spirit to help me see the truth. In fact, that was what our Pastor really spoke on: living in the truth. I have confessed John 8:32 for months now ("And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." KJV) believing that my acceptance of the truth (the truth of my husband's behavior, my own feelings of inadequacy, and my unwillingness to bear the truth over the past 26 years) has been the reason for my complete healing and overhauling of my personality and self worth. The truth in my life has indeed set me free. I cannot say it enough, so today, I was nodding my head in agreement with my Pastor, thinking "Yes, I am free. I am free." Then I was thinking about this past week, and how I have acted and behaved, and feeling so inadequate about my future and God's plans for me. It all clicked together when I realized what I have been doing has been the result of one single event in my life, one event that took place nearly twenty years ago.

I was on my way to Pet's Mart, and thinking about my feelings of unworthiness, and how I am out to get a job with a good title (I will explain). That's when it just hit me, the whole reason why I have been struggling with God's plan for my life, the present events, and how everything just works together for my good. You see, about 20 years ago, I worked for a large database manufacturing company. I had a good job, a very good job, and I made good money. I didn't have my BA degree then, so I was stuck under the glass ceiling they had to administrative support people. I worked hard, earned great reward, and even was awarded the Employee of the Year award once. Nothing, though, that I did seemed to make any difference. I couldn't move up in my position because I didn't have a BA degree.

There was this certain person, a guy I had infrequent dealings with, but who just rubbed me the wrong way. He worked in Software development, and fancied himself this very smooth operator. He and I had run-ins whenever we met, and not of my doing. I always seemed to get his short end of the stick, and his stick was his mouth. He would put me down every single time he met me. It didn't matter what I did, he would make fun of me, say I was stupid or something like that, and simply point out every single flaw I had. I took it personally, even when I tried to defend myself. He was verbally abusive to me, and nothing I did seemed to make him stop doing it. My co-workers said "He's a jerk, Carol. Ignore him." But his words cut me to the quick, and I hated him for it.

In fact, I returned to college partly to prove this jerk wrong. I went to college, got my BA and earned top honors in English, no less (his degree, and the one point he always accused me of being ignorant in). I put it to him, but he had already moved on to another company by then. I, though, still was sticking it to him, even years later. I was driven to prove to this jerk that I was accepted, that I was approved, and that I was intelligent and worthy of respect. I never realized that even today, I still want to kick this guy where it hurts and tell him "see, you were wrong! I am smart."

I confessed my feelings toward this man years ago, but I had not let go his judgment on me. He said I was inadequate and insignificant and I believed him. His words stuck with me, and were a leading cause in my pursuit of achievement and excellence in school. Now that I am almost 48, and virtually unemployed; I have had to take a good long look at this kernel of truth. I have to root it up, get it out of my life because my valuation is not of man. My worth is totally 100% summed up in Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. My problem was that I still wanted to prove my worth through status and position, and now that I have uncovered the truth in my life (of misuse of money, mishandling of affairs, etc.) I am all the more determined to prove I can be right.

The Lord graciously showed this to me, and I realized that it was a sticking point for me in my search for work. I have humbled myself in the search, and agreed to do anything that opens up. However, in my heart, I wanted a certain kind of job and a certain level of pay. The Lord wanted me to let go of that and to accept His provision which might seem to not make sense, but would provide for me. I said yes, and finally agreed that the two most important aspects of my life right now are:
  1. Allowing the Lord to define my character through the tests, the trials and the circumstances of my life
  2. Define and develop my skills for His use in ministry today and in the future

The job I do, the title I wear, the money I bring home are not part of this process at all. A job simply provides the means to the end of life -- income to feed your family. It is not who I am nor is it the person God is making me into; but rather, it is practical work to do what needs done. Nothing more, nothing less. I am seeking to bring Him Glory, and in that, well, I have no real part except to reflect His Glory back to Him, which is what I am all about these days.

Therefore, the truth I accepted today was that I am no longer pursuing work for any other reason than to provide practical help to my family. My life and my real work are bound up in His Name, and that is not of my hand or my doing. It is all of Him so that the glory goes up and not right around to me.

May God be praised forever more. He is SO GOOD TO ME.

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