January 7, 2015

That Sinking Feeling...

Ever have one of "those days?" You know, the kind of day where you feel like your ship is sinking? Your ship may not be as large or as important as the Titanic, but that feeling of slowly being pulled under the water is still the same. Yesterday, I felt this way. I felt as though I was being swamped by rising water, and no matter how hard I tried to keep my head above the water line, the force of the waves and the current were pulling me down. I hate that "feeling," and I strive so hard to avoid getting into situations where I start to feel overwhelmed to the point of sinking. I think what happens for me is that I find myself in a difficult place, a spot where I am out of my element, so to speak, and where I am relying on the Lord for His provision and His care. Then just when I am in the midst of the situation, I realize how alone I am (physically). I look around me, and I see the eyes of the world resting upon me. I see the concern on faces, questioning looks, half-belief and half-unbelief, and I sink...I lose all confidence in myself and in the One who is supporting me. I take my eyes off of my Lord and Savior, and I look at my empty hands (and head), and I panic. I think to myself, "Oh, Lord - what have I gotten myself into now?!"

1 Peter 5:7 - Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

Giving All Our Cares to God

Yes, this is the verse that comes back to my mind today. Casting my cares, my anxiety, my worries, my fears and my doubts upon the Lord. I have blogged about my propensity to fear before so there is no need to rehash that weakness (LOL!) Suffice it to say that I am prone to fear -- all sorts of fear -- both rational and irrational -- and as a result I struggle to remain confident (hopeful) and steadfast in the Lord. His Grace is always sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9), yet I forget to apply His Grace to situations where I find myself alone, filled with fear and with doubt.

As I stated, yesterday was one of those "sinking ship" days. The day started out alright, but quickly turned into a Titanic of an event. Let me explain...

The morning seemed to be a good indicator of a successful day. After all, I had a good first day back at GCU on Monday, and I felt confident that Tuesday would prove similar. I was a bit uncertain how to handle working with IA's in the classroom, but I was thankful to have them with me (for class management and for grading). Yet, I still felt unsure about my teaching in front of them (I hate that feeling). However, I approached the day as I do most teaching days -- I prepped and I made myself ready to teach my two courses in ENG 106 / English Composition II.

The day started well. Nothing really happened to set me on edge so I felt comfortable in my approach and my planned course for the semester. Then crash, well really, INTERRUPTION! GCU has taken to sending in envoys on the first day of class. This typically is a seasoned faculty member who arrives during the first 5-10 minutes to announce policy in your classes. While that doesn't sound like anything earth shattering, the interruption to the flow of the hour does cause a break in the continuity for teaching, for setting that first day "welcome mat" for student expectations. I don't mind these folks coming into the classroom, it is more that their announcement interrupts the flow of the session, and usually, it follows on top of another instructor who lingered in the classroom past their end time. So what happens is this -- you are waiting to get into the classroom to setup the computer, your presentation, get your papers out, etc. You are already running late. The envoy arrives and takes over your class for 5-10 minutes. Then you regroup and pull your class together. 

I know, I know...I am making a big deal out of a little interruption. I shouldn't feel that way, and I should be more flexible with my teaching. Yet, it is that little interruption that causes such a great shock to your plans. It is like the iceberg that floated right into the side of the Titanic or the wave that washed over the Poseidon (remember that great movie from the 1970s?) Often, it is small obstacles, the small little things in life that float casually by us, unseen, that suddenly catch us off guard. When we are hit in the side, we gasp for a moment, reeling from the shock, and then as we turn to see the "offender" we realize that we were unprepared in that moment to face the coming battle. These little "shocks" are jabs by the enemy who desires to see us fall flat on our faces, turn from our faith in God, and rely solely on our own efforts to either understand something or to endure something. When we turn aside from faithful reliance upon God, we see how alone we are, how outnumbered, and how overwhelmed we feel by the sheer magnitude of the task or job set before us.

Ephesians 6:10 reminds us that we are to...

"...Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power."

It is the Lord who is our Victor and our Champion. It is the Lord who sees us through each and every battle, no matter how small or how large. The Lord goes before us, and it is the Lord who leads us through every hill and every valley on our path toward Heaven. We cannot do His work without His Presence nor His Power. We are ineffectual, inefficient, and incapable of achieving any sort of accomplishment without His Ability working in us and through us. It is for His Name, His Praise, His Honor and His Glory. Therefore, when we feel those moments of utter abandonment, we must remember to whom we look for our security, for our safety, and for our shelter. We must not forget who it is that goes before us into battle. 

Deut. 3:22 - Do not be afraid of the nations there, for the LORD your God will fight for you.

Deut. 20:4 - He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!

Deut. 1:30 - The LORD your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt.

Yes, the Lord is our Almighty God, Father overall, and Victor and Champion. The Word says in Psalm 27:1,

The LORD is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?

Oh, that I may remember that there is no reason to fear when the Lord is my fortress and my strong tower!

The Key to Success - Remember and Rest in the Lord!

As I prepare for today, I remember this fact: it is the Lord who goes before me. The work that I do (teaching) is His work, therefore, I cannot be successful without His leadership over my studies, over my time, over my preparation. The Lord must always be first in everything I do. I know that without Him, there is no way that I can manage the tasks I have to do this semester (teaching and studies). I know I am doing the Lord's will, I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be (for now), and I know that no matter what happens, the Lord has me so well covered today.

Dear Lord,

You know how much I struggle with confidence in the classroom. I always suffer on my first days back to school. I feel so out of my league, so overwhelmed and so completely unable to do the work that is being asked of me. Yet, I know that I can do this work, I can do this work. These feelings wash over me and they bring me so low, to the point at times, where I want to give up, to give in, and to do something different. I know I must remain where I am until you move me, until you open a door of opportunity for me to do something else (if there is anything else). Until that time, I must learn how to stand up and defend myself against the enemy. I pray today that you would go before me as I teach my students. I ask that you cover me with your peace, your blessed peace, so that I do not feel unwell or unable to stand. I ask that you would give me strength in my feet and my legs so that I can bear up under the strain of standing. I also ask for freedom from the pain that is associated with standing for so many hours, that you would provide a way for me to withstand that pain so that I could do the work you have called me to do. I ask all this in the precious and mighty Name of Jesus, Amen. Selah!

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