August 27, 2014

Struggling to Rest

Yes, it has been exactly one day, perhaps two since I made the grand pronouncement that I was choosing to REST in the Lord. After my struggles last week, I had made the decision that the stress I was feeling, the overwhelming panic inside, was due to my refusal to allow the Lord to control my circumstances (namely my studies at Regent and my teaching at ACU/GCU). I was fed up, or so I wrote on this blog, with feeling awful, with the nagging doubts and insecurities, with the sense of failure that seemed to cover me in a cloud of despair. I wanted out of that vicious cycle, and I made a commitment to the Lord to trust Him for each and every outcome this semester.

So here I am floundering -- AGAIN! I am awash in a sea of doubts, in the murkiness of feeling raw and vulnerable amidst all the tasks that are piling up on my massive and un-scalable TO-DO list!

I woke up this morning feeling dread, that sensation that what was to come (later this morning/afternoon) was going to prove to be a miserable experience for me. I didn't sleep well last night, which only compounded the matter. I had dreams all night long, and I tossed and turned as I moved through the various sleep cycles. I never felt rested or relaxed. When morning finally arrived, I rolled out of bed, and immediately felt that the day was going to be "one of those days."

I did my best to counteract those thoughts -- stopping them at the door (as Kay Arthur likes to say) -- so as not to give in to them, to allow them to take root. While I battled these thoughts, I reminded myself of the truth of the WORD, that the Lord is my strong tower, that He is at-the-ready to defend me, and that no mountain is too high for Him to push aside (yes, I am hearing Diana Ross and The Supreme's sing -- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough").

Once again my enemy has hit me hard, right where I am weakest -- in my pride. My pride, my sense of self-value and self-worth, is a weak spot for me. I do not consider myself haughty (arrogantly superior and disdainful) nor would I say that I suffer from over-weening pride (an excessive feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements).  In truth, I know where my success comes from, and I can state emphatically that it is all of the Lord. Yet, if that is true (and I believe it is), then why do I feel so rotten, so down regarding my performance as a teacher?

It is because there is slippery sliding scale when it comes to pride. It is possible to slide quickly from humility into pride. So while I can say with assurance that I have a healthy dose of pride (a right sense of what I can and cannot do), if not kept in check, then my intent to assume full responsibility for my work, for my achievements, will push me into the prideful category.  In my view, there is nothing wrong with feeling satisfied by one's own abilities or performance. It feels good to be successful, to achieve a goal, to do a job well. However, when we begin to take credit for something that does not rightly belong to us, well, then we run into the issue with being prideful.

In looking up the definition of pride, different resources will state different things. Some consider haughtiness to be synonymous with pride, while others do not.

Dictionary.com says pride is defined as the "pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself" whereas Merriam-Webster says pride is "a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people." Both include conceit as part-and-parcel with pride. Conceit is too much pride in your own worth or goodness.

So where does this leave me today...

I think of Micah 6:8:

No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Yes, the command given by the prophet Micah is a good reminder to each one of us. God asks us to walk humbly with Him. Humility is a modest or low view of one's own importance, so to walk humbly simply means to recognize that in our relationship with the Lord there can be ONE GOD only. In all our work, in all our efforts, in everything we do -- we are to remember that the Lord God is the ONE who empowers, who creates, who sustains, who educates, etc. He is the ONE who deserves all the credit, who we should reflect all success toward. The Lord is the One who works through us, and whenever we begin to take credit where credit is due His Holy Name, then we have crossed the line from walking humbly with the Lord to where we are walking in pride-fulness or conceit.

Today, I remember the words of Micah, and I think carefully upon my role as teacher/scholar. I reflect the credit back to the Lord, and I rest in His ability to do this work. I lay down my hat, my teacher robe, and I say to the Lord: I am weak, but you are strong. In my weakness Lord, complete your work, your good work today.

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