December 10, 2014

Worth the Wait

What a blessed day to stand and give praise to the Lord! He is good, so very good!

Today I am standing in awe of a majestic God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus! I give praise and honor and testimony to His Great Name, and I lift my voice in gratitude and thanksgiving for His mercies, which are new every single day. He is good, so very good to me!

It is a blessed Wednesday in sunny and warm Phoenix. Today is my last day of teaching at GCU. I am ready for the winter break, and I am glad that my classes are finished (or will be tonight). It is a good feeling to wrap the semester up, and to move on to the next adventure (new students, new teaching) come this January. I think this is one of the reasons I love teaching so much. Sure, there are days when I loathe teaching, when I loathe the grading, and when I feel so overwhelmed and full of doubt. Those days come hard and fast to me, and at times, I do give my decision (well, the Lord's really) to be a professor a second-thought. If I am honest with myself, the fact remains that I love the flexibility of teaching college courses. I love the variable schedule, the days off, and the holiday/vacation breaks. I also love the fact that I get to help students learn how to be better students, that I get to mentor and advise them, encourage them, and generally motivate them to work hard toward achieving their goals. I think that in all, teaching is the most difficult job I have ever done, but it is surely the most rewarding. I complain a lot about the job, the tasks, the pressure, the workload. In the end though the job itself provides interest and the opportunity for change. I teach one set of students and one set of classes each semester -- when the semester ends -- I get to repeat that experience and enjoy the blessing of change. There are not many jobs where that is the case and where you can influence directly so many people at one time. Yes, I am blessed to be an educator, and I am blessed to be able to teach at the college level. God is good, so very good to me!

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, my phone buzzed at me to tell me that I had new messages. I have my phone set on silent mode all the time so I normally hear the buzz when there are voice mail, email or other notifications. This time it was a notification that a grade had been updated in Blackboard. Blackboard is the online learning management system for Regent University. I have been dreading these notices because this semester, in particular, was very difficult for me. I taught four classes and with each one came extra requirements for mentoring and grading. My courses at Regent were challenging, and the workload was grueling. I felt pressured, stressed and overwhelmed all semester long. I also felt that I didn't do my best work, that while I did give great effort, I wasn't able to do my best in either class.

The notification was that a grade had been entered in Blackboard for my COM 701 class. COM 701 is a core class, a required methods course. It is one of the last methods courses I have to take for my doctorate. I have loved this class -- and I feel that I learned so much of value in it. I have also come to see Historical/Critical Research as the best "fit" for my scholarly study. I struggled through Quantitative and Qualitative research methods -- liking aspects of them -- but not feeling a particular affinity for the approach. This class was IT for me. I guess my background in criticism helped, but for all intents and purposes, I fell in love with the approach and I knew immediately that I would want to focus on this type of method for my doctoral dissertation and any subsequent research projects.

Despite my enthusiasm for the method, I stressed over the major paper required in the course. I conducted a visual analysis of a Heard Museum exhibit (Remembering Our Indian School Days). I felt that I couldn't do my best with so little time, and that the paper, while good, was not as thorough as it could have been. Still, I submitted it on time, and I prayed it would be well-received (always my prayer). These past couple weeks have been filled with such doubt about my performance on this paper. I didn't think it was good enough nor did I feel that it would be well-received. I discounted my own efforts, and I spent so many days and nights weeping over the quality of the work.

So last night, I received the notice that this paper had been graded. To say I was worried -- well -- I would say panicked -- was an understatement. This paper was worth 400 points and it could either sink me or send me on my way with high flying colors. I held my breath as I dove into the email. I thought "what do I have to lose now?" The time was past for crying, and now all that was left was to "grin and bear it."

As I opened my paper up, I scanned for the comment at the bottom of the page. This was 24-page paper, and even at that length, I felt it was not long enough to do the subject justice. Once my eyes settled on the comments, I was aghast. In a short paragraph, I read my professors comments to me. Superior work. A grade. Paper needs to be presented at conference. I was shocked, literally and figuratively. The Lord had told me previously that I was in for a high honor, that I should expect some word that would bring me notice. I believed His word to me, but I didn't understand exactly what would come of it. But there in black and white were my professors comments, encouraging me to pursue this field (visual rhetoric). The Lord is good to me, so very good!

I praised the Lord in silence last night. I couldn't believe my eyes nor could I believe that the Lord had delivered on His word to me. I remember praying about this the previous day, and hearing the Lord say to me "you will not believe it." Yes, the Lord knows me well. He knows how I stress over my performance and how I worry and become so doubtful every time I submit an assignment. He knows that while I am well-equipped and capable, I cannot do this level of work without His help. He guides me, He inspires me, and He fills me with whatever is needed in the moment so that I can be disciplined, be focused, and be driven to do the work, His work. Yes, the Lord is at my side through each class, through each assignment, through each bulletin board post. The Lord is gracious to me, and He never leaves me nor does He forsake me to handle things on my own. He is good, so very good to me.

I calculated my grade in this course today and I have a 98.5% total. I am amazed, really amazed. The Lord promised me an "A" in my course. When I say that I mean that I prayed over my courses, my grades, my effort, and in every instance, I surrendered my will to Him. I agreed with Him that whatever the "review," as long as He received the honor, I was OK with the "grade." I have surrendered my desire for As in my courses, even though I still desire them, want them, and at times, need them, for validation. The Lord knows this, and because I know that I tend to fixate on them, I have to be extra careful not to allow my "need, want and desire" to move from honoring the Lord to idolatry of self. Yes, I am well aware of that slippery slope.

I still struggle at times to believe the Lord. I struggle still to believe that I can actually do this level of work. I give my best; but often, I feel my best is not good enough. The Lord covers me, and He gives me His grace to do this work well. I thank Him today for the blessing of provision, of good success, and of achievement. I pray that through the remaining semesters and courses that I will continue to rely upon Him, to seek Him, and to trust Him for guidance and inspiration. I cannot do this work without Him, and I desperately need Him to oversee everything I do at Regent. After all, I am at Regent for His Name, His Praise, and His Honor. Therefore, everything I do should be for His glory.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for guiding me through my courses this year. Thank you for another great semester at Regent University. Thank you for my Godly Professors, the men and women, who seek to honor you through their efforts at this fine school. I pray you would continue to bless them and cover them with your mercy and care as they finish out their semester, complete their grading, and transition into the blessed Christmas season. Bless and cover their families and their ministries. Continue to encourage their scholarship, and to lift their heads so that they can bear testimony to your faithfulness and provision in and through their lives. Keep them now in your mercy and grace and give to them each need, each concern, and each prayer request. May Psalm 37:4-5 be the cry of their heart as they make you their delight, and in turn, you give to them the desires of their heart. Be with them now and throughout this Season of Light. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah (Pause and calmly think about it!)

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