August 19, 2014

Reflections on My First Day at ACU

Mother Nature decided to do HER thing this morning. The rain started to come down hard about 5:30-6:00 this morning and it didn't let up until close to 9:00 a.m. Thankfully, all we got was a hard rain with some thunder and lightning. However, to the north of us, there was major flooding. The creeks and washes, which are normally dry, swelled and overran the streets and the freeway. The photo was taken near Black Canyon City (40 miles north of where I live). My son was just stuck there on Saturday (his car broke down on the side of the road). I am thanking the Lord that the rains didn't come on the weekend when he was stuck and trying to get his car repaired.

Hard rain, flash flooding, damaging winds -- this is what life is like in the desert during the monsoon season. Both lanes of our I-17 are shutdown in multiple places due to flooding. It is a good thing that I don't have to travel up toward Prescott or Flagstaff today. I am thinking about my friend's, the Collins', who need to drive up north to take their middle daughter to NAU on Thursday. I am praying that the rain subsides and the freeway opens up again today or tomorrow.

Praising God for the rain (we so need it), and for His protection of life this good day. While the rain and the flooding overwhelm us at times, most Arizonans know enough to be safe when the monsoon comes each summer. Yes, we do have stupid motorists who insist on crossing flooded roads. And, yes, we do have times when people get stuck by accident and need to be rescued (this happened a couple days ago when 20 vehicles got stuck in the roadway as a flash flood was occurring). Generally, we don't see loss of life during the monsoon storms -- not like during the summer with toddler pool drownings -- when will people learn to watch their kids around water?

Today, I am at home resting. I don't teach again until tomorrow, and I am struggling with major doubts about my performance from yesterday. I know that it is just the enemy trying to steal my joy (have I allowed him to do that? yes and no!) I am very hard on myself, and I criticize my performance. I wish that I would relax in the classroom and just be in the moment. I have tried to do that so many times, but I still get myself wrapped up in "presenting" material. I worry about the time, the amount of time I have to teach, and about keeping my students on track. Yet, I love being there, and if I would just relax, I know I would do such a better job. Sigh!

Why can I not rest? Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 that we are to come to Him to find our rest. He specifically calls to those who are laboring, who are weighed down with heavy burdens. He beckons us to come and rest. He says in verses 28-30 NLT,

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Sometimes I think that I purposely choose to bear the heavy burden. In my heart, I long so to give up my burden, to take His yoke, and to rest in Him completely. Yet, in my mind, I want so much to be in control, to do things my way, to make sure that everything I do is "just so!" Why do I do this? Why do I make things so difficult for myself?

I believe it is because I have some performance anxiety and performance issues. I know this about myself. I recognize that as a child I suffered with a fear of failure. In fact, I probably still do to some extent. I certainly have failed in my life, and I certainly have made mistakes -- oodles of them. However, I have also learned from many of those mistakes, and I have also come to accept the fact that while I am not perfect, and I don't have to be perfect, there is part of me that desires it nonetheless. Why do I want to be perfect? 

Today has been one of those super crazy days -- where everything seems to go weird, off-kilter, out of balance. I started this blog post in the morning, and I am just now finishing it at 3:45. In between, something happened to me, and I realized the answer to that question of why I seek perfection. Funny, how sometimes the Lord does that to us (or for us), how He gives us time to process events, and in reflection we come to see the very answer we are seeking from Him.

So why do I want to be perfect? 

BC - before Christ, I would say that the main reason I wanted to be perfect was to prove to myself and others that I was worthy of their love, their respect, their time, etc. Yes, I had great needs as a child. I needed to be affirmed. I needed to feel wanted, necessary, important. As a Christian and as an adult, I may still have some inklings of these needs, but most, if not all of these needs were met with total sufficiency at the CROSS. 

AC - after Christ, I believe the main reason I strive for perfection is because the Word of God demands it or so we allow ourselves to be led to believe. Let me explain...

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Paul tells us that whatever we do, the dailies, the normals, the basics of our life -- we are to do everything for God's glory. Some may say that to do "it all" means that we must apply every Scriptural principal to our lives, we must live by a long list of DO's and reprimand ourselves when we succumb to the opposing DON'TS. In short, we must abide by the very ink of the law, and we must live our lives against an impossible standard. We must be PERFECT, never failing, never falling, never messing up because we have the Glory of God to uphold.

Yet, in reading Scripture and taking this verse into context, we see that this view of human perfection is the antithesis of what the WORD tells us. Can we really be perfect? Can we really live by every tenant of the law? Absolutely not.

Instead, what this verse is really saying to us, in a nutshell is this:

We must surrender everything we do to God. We must allow HIM and HIS GLORY (His GOODNESS) to permeate our day, our week, our month, our very lives. In doing so, everything we do, must be yielded to Him and the work that is performed or results is His Work. In this way and I believe in the ONLY way, will God be Glorified in and through us.

My desire for perfection, to be perfect, to perform perfectly is a corrupted view of God's presence in my life. In my weakness, He is made strong (2 Cor. 12:19). Therefore, no matter what I do in this life, I will do it imperfectly. I will make mistakes. I will make little mistakes and big mistakes. Sometimes I will make granddaddy-sized mistakes -- life altering, life changing, humiliating mistakes. Yet despite my failings, the Lord's rest for me is always sure. I can rest. I can know that He is responsible for bringing His own glory to pass. It is not up to me to do anything good because I am not good. All that is good within me is there because of the very presence of God in my life.

As I wrestled with this truth today, I realized that I have been set free from the burden of trying to be perfect. Yes, that heavy burden and unbearable yoke was cast off me at Calvary's cross. I am free, and the yoke I wear now is easy. The burden I carry is light. He does the heavy work in me and through me. I rest. I trust. I let go, and I let Him have all the glory for only He is worthy, only He is worthy of that glory.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me learn this lesson today. Thank you for reminding me that this work I do (teaching for example) is not about my success, but about your glory. I let go now. I let go of that yoke and burden (the need to be perfect), and I rest in your sufficiency. I trust you to do your work in me today and tomorrow and every day hereafter. You alone are worthy to receive my praise. You alone are worthy and good.

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