I asked the Lord to help me understand why I am so confused, and as always, He readily helped me see where I was off in my understanding of the facts. Oh, how I love Him so!
As I prayed about my confusion, the following just came up to my mind (I love it when this happens). I started thinking about my job, and my education, and the path I am on right now. I have struggled to put job in it's proper context. It took many heart to heart talks with the Lord before I figured that one out (LOL!) I guess it is my generation or perhaps it is just my mindset from growing up in a home where my Dad worked, and my Mom was a SAHM. I have always had issues with the idea of "work" and the roles men/women, moms/dads, husbands/wives play. I mean I never wanted to be a career woman. I never gave it a thought. I was planning to be a SAHM, and while I accepted the fact that I would have to work for a while -- until marriage, until children -- I didn't really consider a career as a viable option for me. A career was what my Dad had, it was what other people seemed destined for, but it was not what I wanted nor what I thought would be my destiny. I digress.
All these years later, and all the changes in my life, have caused me to rethink "career" and "job" and to be truthful, I have not been quick to grasp their significance. I know I have to work, I have to pay the bills, and I have to live. I get it, I know what I have to do. I just was confused on whether I need to start looking for a career or whether just having a "job" was good enough for me and for God's plans.
The Lord was clear on this point. I wasn't to have a career. He didn't want me to lose my focus on ministry as my work, my driving force. I was to be single-mindedly pursuing His plans for my life, which are MINISTRY focused.
Perhaps the confusion came from my attempts (failed) to clearly articulate why I am -- now at age 50 -- going on to school to get a PhD. I get asked this question all the time. "Why now, Carol?" Why would you want to do this now?" "Why take on the debt?" "How is this degree going to benefit your career?"
I stumble, and bumble, and stammer around with feeble answers. I know what God has called me to do, and I know what He is asking of me. I don't do a good job sharing it, partly because the person with whom I am sharing it might not be a Christian, or if they are, they might not have the same understanding as I do (in that God still does call His children to a vocation).
I usually end up saying something like this:
"I am going back to school to complete a goal I set for myself over 20 years ago."
"I am doing this now because I have the time, and the interest has never waned."
"I think this degree will benefit me in my career path."
Yes, all these statements are true. They are all true, but they are not the reason why I am going to Regent University at age 50, jumping through masses of hoops just to get my foot in the door, and then taking on huge debt to accomplish an insurmountable degree/goal. No, my reasons are far more simple and far more to the point:
"I am going to Regent because God has called me to go there."
"The Lord has laid a burden on my heart to work and serve in International Ministry and to use my gifts, talents and experience to help front-line missionaries, pastors, teachers communicate more effectively to this cross-cultural and multigenerational non-believing world."
It is the latter that formed the center of my thesis to Regent. It was the latter that has motivated me since 2009 to return to graduate school, complete a Masters degree, and now begin a PhD. It is the latter that consumes my attention, that directs my focus, and that keeps me moving forward toward what I believe is the plan the Lord has for my life.
It is my vocation, my calling, and it is the only career I will ever have in my life. I am consumed with the prospect of working in this ministry and in doing whatever is necessary to prepare me and train me for it.
As I write these words, I am utterly convinced that what I am doing is right, it is His way. I know that this path is the right path, the right way to go. I am confident in it.
Where I struggle, and where I lose my way is in that dreaded "forest." I am blinded to the fact that I am in the middle of a forest (you know -- "cannot see the forest through the trees".)
I am in the middle of that forest right now, and the trees are in front of me. They all have names on them, names such as:
God knows that I struggle with the finer details, and that often I get lost when I look to closely at the bark on the tree trunk. I need to accept that fact that they are "just trees" -- nothing more, nothing less -- and that as a tree, they are part of the big forest I am in. If I can just let go of that fact, I can accept them for what they are, and move on. I can keep moving forward, moving towards His goal, His plan, His way for me.
Oh, Lord -- it is so hard for me to let things go! Help me now to accept what is in front of me, and let the rest of the worry and doubt go! I ask this now in your Name. Amen (so be it), thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it!!)