February 16, 2015

President's Day Thoughts

Yes, it is President's Day, and I have the day off due to the official holiday. I am thankful for this day, really thankful, because I get to rest and to relax after what was one of the most difficult weeks of my doctoral-study life! God is good, so very good to me! I finished every task on my to-do list from last week, save my grading, which is scheduled for today. I should be completely caught up on all assignments for Regent, and I will have finished every grading task for my classes at GCU! Woohoo!

It is so amazing to think of the way in which the Lord moved through my week and to consider how He enabled me to handle everything that was on my plate. Really, except for a few moments when I panicked, I remained calm and cool and collected. God is good, so very good to me!

Today is a good day, a day of rest. I am resting from my busy week, and I am trusting the Lord for His provision of this week and beyond. I have so much to be for which to be thankful. I stand amazed at God, His Goodness, and His Grace! He is an AMAZING GOD, and I give Him all the praise, the honor, and the glory! He is good, so very good to me!!

As I consider my life, my days, and then think about my future, one thing is for sure -- the hand of the Lord rests upon me. I feel His hand as He guides me through my days, how He shows me where to go and what to do, and how He prepares me for His work. I cannot say it enough but God is so very good! My heart leaps with thanksgiving, and my head echoes the praises of His goodness:

Psalm 136:1 - Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

He is good, so very good...and all the time, He is good.

Today is a new day, a day filled with hope, and with optimism. I feel good, through and through, and I am brimming with confidence in the fact that the Lord has me well-covered. I am well-covered, and that means that no matter what happens to me today (circumstantially), the Lord's magnificent Grace is sufficient to provide for me and to me EXACTLY what I need to handle the challenge, the difficulty, or the sorrow. Yes, I am well-covered, indeed.

As I think about tomorrow, I know this:

Psalm 27:1 - A psalm of David. 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?

I am confident in hope, assured in the face of uncertainty, and fearless in the face of the giant. The Lord lives,

Psalm 18:46 - The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted!

The God of my salvation lives, and blessed be His Name forever and ever!

The Lord is good to me. He sees me through the darkness, and He guides me as I walk through difficult places. He never leaves me nor does He abandon me to figure out things on my own. He is clear, He is direct, and His Word never fails (Joshua 21:45). Yes, the Lord is righteous, and His word is true (John 17:17b).

It is a good day to enter His gates with thanksgiving and to go into his courts with praise (Ps. 100:4). The Lord is good, so very good.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways (Is. 45:15), and as such, His ways are not always known to us (Is. 55:8). Yet, the Lord desires for us, for each of us, to know and to understand His ways (or way). He desires for each of us to come into a loving, intimate relationship with Him, and to learn from Him (Matt. 11:29). Learning from God means that we must begin our walk each day by spending time in the Word, by listening to His Holy Spirit, and by yielding our hearts and our minds so that we can acknowledge what He is saying to us. This is the "way" the Lord desires each of His children to walk, in humble submission and in obedience to His Word, Jesus Christ. So while the overarching plans and designs of the Lord are too high, too complex, to comprehensive for man to know, the daily plans, the expressed desire the Lord has for each individual can be known --  in time  -- but only through intimate fellowship with Him.

I am fortunate in that regard. I didn't always "know" the plans the Lord had for my life. In fact, for many years I believed that the Lord didn't have a specific plan for me. No, I believed that short of salvation, the Lord had no specific desires or intentions for my life. My belief was predicated on the teaching of the church I attended when I came to faith as a teenager. I was taught about sin, shown my sin nature, and encouraged to place my faith in the redemptive work of the Lord on the cross. Once I came to faith, I was encouraged to dig into the Word, and to obey what I read. It was pretty simple, read the Word, attend church, minister to the lost, and pray daily for the strength to survive and not give in to temptation. In truth, the faith I was encouraged to keep was one of ritual, hardship, and survival. There was no joy expressed, though it was said that "joy was a choice," meaning that you "put on joy," and not that joy would somehow supernaturally materialize. My early faith walk was deliberate. I did what I was told, but when asked if I was happy or if I had the "joy of the Lord" (Ps. 28:7), I couldn't give a satisfactory answer. I knew my Bible well. I knew what it meant to be saved, and I knew that I was saved. I did not simply FEEL better then when I wasn't saved. I didn't feel any different.

Many years later, however, I experienced that supernatural joy that floods the soul and fills the heart and mind. Yes, my faith walk took a decidedly different path one day, and WHAM!, I was changed. I became a new person, a new creature in Christ Jesus. Some might say that I never was saved, that in those early years I wasn't a Christian at all. I doubt that because there were too many instances whereby the Lord saved me -- physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally -- and whereby He showed me His grace and His mercy. I believe I was saved all those years, from early childhood through teenage adolescence and on into marriage and family. It was a progressive conversion, as my Professor likes to call it, a spiritual journey that takes the believer through life, and leads them into deeper and more intimate fellowship with the Lord.

I can say now that the relationship I share with the Lord is deeply intimate. He knows me, really knows me, and not from some distant perspective, but personally and readily. I am known, and I love the fact that the Lord is intimate with me. He speaks to me, He guides me, He leads me -- and I feel His presence in my life. He is real and tangible and present. There is no other way to explain it other than to say that the Lord lives within me, and I feel Him, I feel Him as He moves me, changes me, and prepares me for His glorious work. Let me explain...

The other day I was struggling with the tasks on my to-do list. In truth, I was being obstinate and difficult. Yes, I can be stubborn. I can be bullheaded, and at times, I can be unmovable. The Lord knows me well, and while my stubbornness is not something He likes to see me do, especially when it is contrary to His will, He does understand my personality well. I believe that many of His servants, especially in the Old Testament, were like me. They were stubborn too (thinking specifically of Jonah), and while they often butted heads with the Lord, they eventually submitted to His will, and in doing so, performed great works for His Name. Yes, there is a benefit to being stubborn -- so long as it is yielded to the Lord -- and it used for His Name and His Glory. The Lord knows me well, and He knows what I can and cannot do. He knows my limits (Ps. 139:2), and as such, He knows everything about me, what I can take and what will push me to the wall of my endurance level. Yes, the Lord knows me well.

In my stubbornness, I had refused to do something the Lord asked of me. I don't remember exactly what the "thing" was, just that as a result of that disobedience, I felt extra pressure on me in order to get me to let go, to let loose that which I was holding. I often hold on to things that the Lord has asked me to let loose. It is my need to control mostly that gets me into trouble. I need to do things a certain way so that I feel like my little ship stays afloat. I forget that the One who is holding my ship afloat is secure, and that He is the One that calms the wind and the waves (Ps. 107:29). Yes, my Lord has a firm grip on my ship, and it is He who keeps me afloat. Still, I struggle often when the waves come upon me, and I stress when it seems like we are heading into rough seas. The Lord is with me, He is steadying me -- yet -- I panic and like the disciples in the boat, I rush to control that which is outside my control (Luke 8:22-26). 

The Lord calmed my sea this week, but not until I let go and let Him take control. The Lord knew that the work I had to do was too much for me, and that I wouldn't be able to accomplish it all, and on time, without His help. I was trusting Him, of course, but I was attempting to determine the going through my own wisdom (Prov. 3:5-6). I wasn't acknowledging His leadership and headship, and as such, I was beginning to sink through my doubt and my fear (Matt. 14:22-33). Yes, I was sinking under the weight of despair, of grief, of doubt...

I let go, thank goodness, and the Lord did what He always does for me -- He took over, and He gave me a good outcome. God is good, so very good to me!

My lesson this week was one of humility. I learned that even in the most intimate relationships, humility is valued, is needed, and often is the "thing" that will determine a good outcome. Yes, I humbled myself before the Lord, and He rescued me (James 4:10). Now as I consider this week, one thing is certain -- I can either continue to move forward with my stubborn need for control OR I can allow the Lord free reign to do as He pleases and move me, change me, honor me, and challenge me -- for His Name, His Praise, and ultimately, His Glory. The choice is before me, and I must choose which way to go.

1 Peter 5:6 - So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

The choice is simple. It is plain. It is obvious to me. There is no rationale on earth that would say that my way is better than His way. There is no knowledge or learning or instruction that would ever take a contrary view on this matter. The Lord's way is always best. He knows my needs. He knows my heart. He knows my desires. But more importantly, He knows HIS NEEDS, HIS HEART, AND HIS DESIRES. Yes, the Lord's plan for my life never functions outside His overarching plan for His creation. My life is all about accomplishing His work, and thus, I must do the "work" He has planned, prepared, and positioned me to do. Yes, the Lord's work supports His will and His way. Therefore, I let go of the final handhold, releasing it all into His marvelous work, knowing full well that the plans He has for my life are good. I let go of the need to know, to control, and to determine my own outcome. I trust Him completely, and I rest in His sufficiency because He is GOOD. HE IS GOD. I rest.

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