April 21, 2012

Taking a Step of Faith

The Lord asked me to take a step of faith this week. I thought it was about the recent interest in me as a candidate for another position. Instead, I believe now that while this is true, that God does have another position in mind for me, the step he wanted me to take was regarding my education and not my actual work.  Let me explain...

I have been stuck for a while now when it comes to my next steps for my education. I know in my heart that I am supposed to be completing my studies at Mercy, and then moving on to another school to begin a PhD program. I have narrowed my choices down to just a handful of schools, and I have been concentrating on those schools -- considering them -- for some time. About a month ago, the Lord and I discussed a change in plan, a change in my focus for my advanced studies. I wasn't thrilled about the idea at first, but after He showed me the program, and the focus, I realized that it was a really good fit for me. The more I thought about it, considered it, and meditated on it, the more I became excited about going to this program. I was happy, I was good, and I felt so positive that this was the direction He had for me to go. I even received His Word to go, which means "yes, go that way!" The problem came when I went online to look at the class schedule for this school, and found out that the courses are not offered online nor are they offered in the late afternoons and evenings. They are offered throughout the week, and usually during the day. This means, of course, that I cannot work in any kind of job that is full-time, M-F. I can only teach, and I can only teach through the school that has this program.

I received further bad news when I talked with the Advisor at the school, and she confirmed that graduate students are expected to go full-time, and not work outside of their responsibilities at the school. This is pretty typical for most doctoral programs, and while I wasn't shocked at the news, I was disappointed in hearing it first hand. I mean, I need to work. I need to make money, and I need at least what I make now at UOPX to pay bills, to live comfortably. I cannot go without money, and I cannot be a starving graduate student -- not now anyway -- not at this stage in my life.

I saw a huge roadblock up ahead, and I stopped in my tracks. I stopped and instead of asking the Lord what He planned for me to do, I simply turned around and went back to where I started. This going backwards is what I wrote about on my blog yesterday. I felt as though I was swimming up stream, and the going was tough. I was tired, and exhausted, and I didn't know why things had gotten so rough for me. Now certainly, I know the Lord can move mountains. I know He can part the seas. I know He can do anything He wants or needs to do -- and nothing is impossible for Him. I simply refused to believe that He would do this for me, that He would make my way passable. I assumed that this roadblock was the end of the line, when in reality, it simply meant that God had another way for me to go, a way around the boulder, a way to keep going and to do what He asked of me.

It is weird, really, when I stop to think about it. I know what I need to do, and I have a task sheet that helps me to remember all the things needed doing. In my particular case, I need to accomplish the following:

  • Learn French fluently (for school and for ministry)
  • Complete a PhD in a program that aligns with my undergraduate and graduate coursework (so English, Composition, Linguistics, Rhetoric, etc.)
I need to do both of these things, and I am on track to do them. The language requirement is necessary to be accepted into a doctoral program. It is a given that i have to demonstrate reading and writing ability as a prerequisite for most programs. Therefore, I have known for a while that I needed to do this, and I had made plans to study on my own and then take the CLEP exam to try and pass and receive credit without taking the courses.

Then I found ASU's Linguistic program, and the Lord showed me how this program would be a good fit for my interest. The language requirement is still there, but the program is interdisciplinary in nature, so I can take Psychology courses along with the Linguistic courses to develop a unique field of study. Moreover, I can specialize in the area that I am most interested in, which is Psycholinguistics. I thought this was good, and I liked the approach, and the fact that I could take these classes. The problem was that I couldn't start the program until next year, and fearing that it would take me more than 5 years to complete, I worried about the timing of it.

As I prayed over this potential concern, the Lord showed me a certificate program in Linguistics. I liked it, and even took a step of faith to enroll -- the program check sheet said the program had rolling admissions, and I thought "OK, so I can enroll for fall 2012, and take some courses to prepare myself for the doctoral program." I started the application only to find that you cannot enroll for any start other than Fall the next year. Moreover, you can only transfer a number of graduate credits into the program and with my Masters, I am already maxed out. So I stopped again, turned around and headed back up stream. Another roadblock in my way to accomplishing this goal the Lord has set for me.

I was in a tailspin, feeling overwhelmed and out of control. I prayed, I cried, and I tried so hard to figure it all out. The Lord was kind to me, gracious and patient. He kept telling me to rest, to trust Him, to wait, to be patient. I thought -- "Lord, how can this be? Something is clearly wrong, and I cannot figure it out." Then as if a miracle occurred, the Lord showed me the way out.

I always get confused and assume the way out deals with my work, and not some other area of my life. I need to remember that my work is just a job to the Lord. And, work is something the Lord can easily provide to me. No, the BIG DEAL is always about His will, and the way out will always focus on some aspect of His will. So in this case, the big deal was that I had my schooling and path to succeed blocked, and I needed a way out, a way around, a way to follow that would still take me in that same direction, only make it possible for me to do it now.

Voila! The Lord provides when you ask Him genuinely and with the intention of doing what He says (obedience, you know). After much tailspinning, the Lord righted my little craft, and helped me navigate back to where I was, and back to that boulder in the road. He then pointed a way for me to go that moves me around that object, and now I am moving again. PTL! I am moving again!!

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