August 3, 2012

Step One: The Plans

I cannot believe that I am home today, and instead of lazing in bed resting, I am busily typing up plans for my new business! God is so amazingly good to me. I have been working on these plans for the past month, but I was struggling to make any progress. In truth, I should have been ready to start yesterday -- that was my goal -- to have everything in order for August 1st. Instead, I floundered and I found myself unable to make any progress.

Partly this was due to my own unwillingness to embrace these plans. I was not 100% committed to doing what the Lord asked me to do, so He waited for me to get on board. He has told me several times now that this is the only "JOB" that I will do, but I kept looking elsewhere. I interviewed for several positions through a temp agency, and I even had my old boss contact a job internally to see what he could do to move me into it. No go. Nothing came to pass, and the longer I refused to do what I had been told to do, the more I felt sickly, and brain-tired. I wasted a lot of good days by not following the Lord. Ugh!

So here I am today, fully committed to doing things His way. I have made up my mind, and I have agreed to the plans. Now, I must outline them so I have a chart to follow, and a way to keep myself on track for success.

Step One: The Plans

The plan for my life is to do the Lord's work. I know this well, as this has been what I have heard Him tell me almost daily for the last five years. I have heard "There is no other job," "There is no other work," and "you are to do my work," consistently whenever I have asked about a career or job to do. I thought (silly me) that He was saying that there was "no work or job" here in Arizona. I thought I would have to move to another state, which made sense because we were discussing relocating to another state (several in fact). However, I have come to understand His word to me better. I thought he meant that I would have to change career focus or do some other kind of work, like for example, not do web design but move into system administration. I also thought he meant that due to the economy, there would be no full-time employment in Arizona.

In hindsight, I see how I got this whole thing wrong. The Lord was telling me that the only work I would do would be "His Work." I have been confused on the titles, "job," "work," and "career." It is normal for human to use these words interchangeably, but to God they mean different things. In Biblical times, a person would have had a career in one of several areas: they could have been a merchant, a builder, a carpenter, a farmer, a vineyard owner, etc. Typically, a man would have done a trade or if he was educated, he may have worked a stall selling goods. He may have also been employed by the church or by the government. He could have been a Rabbi or a teacher or a lawyer or doctor or tax collector or a soldier. This was what a person did, and the work (tasks) were associated with their given occupation.

In our day, we still think of occupation with our career and our work. Our job is what we do every day, Monday-Friday, 9-5 (as in a business). Tasks are associated with each job, and we perform our tasks to earn a day's wages. Not much has changed over time, as back in the Bible days, people did work, and were paid for a day's wages (Romans 4:4).

I think we get confused when it comes to God's work and our career/occupation work. Unless you are employed in full-time ministry, you live your life keeping your work and the Lord's work separate. However, the Bible doesn't look at things this way. When we come to Christ, we are to put on the Lord's work and to be about His work each day. We do the reverse. We put on our work, and then on Sunday's and special occasions, we put on the Lord's work (Luke 2:49, Matt. 6:33).  God calls us to put  His Kingdom work first, in all things, and then promises us that everything else will follow in their proper order.

I have received a specific calling to serve the Lord. I have known this for the past five years. I know what that calling is, and I know what I need to do to live out that calling. My calling, my vocation, and the plans the Lord has for my life work together to fulfill my purpose -- the reason I was created. I know what to do, and I know how to do it, and I am in the process of doing it. My job has always been secondary, and the work (tasks) I do have provided food and shelter and clothing to my family. This is the proper order of things: put the Kingdom of God first, and let everything else be second.

In our world, however, the call to put our career first is always yelling and screaming at us: "You lazy fool -- you are wasting your time -- get moving in your career or else you will be left behind!" I have heard those accusations too, mostly because I am older, and now single. I hear them in my head day in and day out, and often I succumb to their words encouraging me to find a job that will provide for me. Christian's will tell you this is normal, this is good. We should all be gainfully employed, we should seek honest employment. I have no argument with this at all, just with the idea that the JOB or CAREER is more important than the Lord's work.

I am careful to distinguish between the two things now. Whenever I have placed the JOB ahead of His Work, nothing has come to pass. I have not made any headway nor found any success. When I have placed His work ahead of the job, then I find success in everything I do. So longwinded point made -- the plans for my life are to focus on His Work first, and to do whatever tasks (jobs) the Lord brings to me to provide for my family.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. ~Matt. 6:33 NLT

Step One's plan includes setting things in their proper order. First His work, job (tasks) second.

Step Two involves the decision on what tasks (jobs) can be done under His provision. I already know His Work and I already am in the process of completing a series of tasks associated with that plan.

  • Complete graduate school (already completed -- Masters at Mercy College; next up PhD at Regent University)
  • Study foreign language for travel and ministry (French, German and some Italian)
  • Continued study in cello
In addition, I am to continue to work with my son to bring him to full maturity as a young man. I am to support him financially until he is able to do his own work. This is in process -- he is currently in his second year at the community college, and he will be well on his way to understanding the Lord's work for his life very soon (he is already figuring out what God has enabled him to do: music, language study, desire for travel to Europe -- aligning with the call on my life.)

Moreover, the Lord has given me the responsibility to care for my parents. I have known this for the past five-six years, and I am willing to take on this role. I understand now what I need to do, and that will be to provide a place for them to live with me. This is a recent turn of events because prior to this year, my parents were not willing to down-size nor were they willing to move with me out of state. This has changed recently, and now they are getting ready to sell their home -- so the Lord's will is coming to pass in their lives as well as in mine. My Mom is willing to live with me, Dad is not ready yet. Perhaps in one or two more years -- I believe they will choose this way because it is what the Lord has in mind for them and for me.

Lastly, though my husband and I are separated, we are not divorced. This is a point of contention with my Mother mostly. She wants me divorced. I do not want to be divorced. I don't want to be married necessarily, at the least, not yet. I am content to remain separated for the time being, and I believe that this is the Lord's will for us now. My husband will need my help very soon, I know this to be true. He is not well, and he is having some issues finding work right now. I am open to doing what the Lord asks of me, so I believe that in time, we will be reunited of sorts, and that I will need to be the primary caregiver for his life as well as my parents.

Now, with all that out of the way, I can begin to develop the Step Two Plans for the Lord's provision of my family needs.

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