March 4, 2015

Interesting Turn of Events

It is a good Wednesday here in sunny and not-so-warm Phoenix, Arizona. We have beautiful clear skies, but our warm temperatures have stayed south of us. Our high today is only forecasted for the low 60s (a far cry from our normal March temps of near 80). Still, it is a nice change of pace, and considering that our summer heat is just around the corner, it is a good thing (really, it is!)

Yesterday was a really interesting day for me. In all fairness, I guess I would have to say that the past couple days have been interesting. The Lord has been moving in my life, causing change to occur, and over the past couple months, a lot of things have happened to me. I am in what I call a 'transition period,' and as a result, my days are not the same-old-same-old thing -- rather, they are unique, filled with opportunities and challenges that seem to be pushing me, preparing me, and polishing me for whatever the Lord has in mind for my life. Let me explain...

I believe it was sometime last week...yes...I think it was. I was driving home from GCU, and I was praying over my life (a normal thing for me). I like to pray while I am in the car, and it seems this suits the Lord as we tend to have conversations while I am on the way to and from work. It has always been this way (well, for a while -- since I started working at UOPX -- which was a good 40 minute one-way drive from my home).

So, last week, I was praying about my life, about the opportunities I have on the horizon, and of course, about the challenges I face here in Phoenix (work, lack of full-time work, my parents and their health, and my son and his schooling). I was praying over my life, asking the Lord for His help in understanding it all, when the Lord asked me to pray for confirmation. I know, weird, right? I say it this way because right in the middle of my prayer (my normal whining and complaining about my life, about what I don't know, about the BIG UNKNOWNS, etc.), I heard His voice say "ask for confirmation." Okay, not like a booming voice out of the otherworld, but more like a little voice inside my head saying to me "ask." So I listened, I obeyed, and I asked for confirmation.

Confirmation of the Lord's Plans

My prayer went something like this:

"Lord, I ask for confirmation on the job applications I have submitted to Auburn University. I have applied to a couple different positions, and I would like to receive a 'yea or nay' back from them, just so I can know for sure that this is your will for my life."

"Lord, I ask for confirmation from my Dad regarding their future plans. I am struggling to know what to do, and how to provide care for them. I feel like you are asking me to move to another state, but I don't know what will happen to my parents. They depend on me, and I don't want to leave them in a position whereby they are not cared for well enough."

"Lord, I ask for confirmation on the future plans you have for my life, personally, so that I can know if I am feeling the right way, interpreting intentions correctly. Please help me to know and to understand what you want from me as far as personal relationships are concerned."

After I prayed, I remember hearing the Lord answer me. In short, I felt He said that I would indeed receive confirmation on all accounts within the next couple weeks.

Okay, so weird as that may seem, the Word does tell us that we must test and discern the voices we hear to ensure they are of the Lord. The biggest test is to ensure that whatever we are hearing aligns with the Word of God, and that it doesn't go against the Scripture. The second test to know if what we are hearing from the Lord is true, is to wait and to watch to see if the word comes to pass.

My request for confirmation isn't really Biblical, per se, so it is hard to align it with the Word. However, I am wholly devoted to following after the Lord, and to moving wherever He leads. Therefore, my request aligns with the Word because I asked for confirmation on whether my application to the University is His will for my life. The same could be said for the other requests as they all are part-and-parcel to the Lord's plans for me.

On Sunday, I received testimony from my Dad regarding their plans. While not as deep as I had hoped, I have to say that the confirmation was evident. My Dad said that he didn't want to move to Auburn. He sulked quite a bit, but later confessed that he and my mother would have to go wherever I went (reluctantly). Since then he has been normal in behavior and attitude, which says to me, that he has resigned himself to the fact that I am looking for work outside the state of AZ. I blogged about this the other day, and it has been no secret that I have clearly stated I would need to move elsewhere, and the timing of that move would be sometime between 2015 and 2017.

Yesterday, I received an email from Auburn University asking me to resend my transcripts. This was from the hiring manager, who graciously asked me to resubmit because they didn't come through properly. Furthermore, he wanted to evaluate me fairly, and he didn't want me to be out of consideration for a technical failure. I was surprised by his email, but thankful for his concern. I am taking this email as confirmation on the faculty position. Granted, it is not "you are hired," but I feel it is considerable since the department could have simply passed my application over in favor of others that were complete.

I have two other applications submitted, one is with the hiring department (has been for a month now), and the other will soon close (March 6). I may receive further confirmation on these applications or I may not. Most employers do not contact you unless they decide to interview you. So any kind of contact, to me, bodes in my favor.

That leaves just one more confirmation to come, and I am sure it will at some point in time. For now, I have to think that the Lord's word to me was true, and that what I heard has come to pass (or is in process).

So What Does This Mean?

Isaiah 14:27 says, "The LORD of Heaven's Armies has spoken--who can change his plans? When his hand is raised, who can stop him?" This verse is specific testimony for the veracity of the Lord's Word. Yes, it relates to a specific event, to the breaking of the bonds of the Assyrian over the Jew, but it is prophetic in that it also gives insight into the authority and integrity of the Lord as He plans, He purposes, and He prepares His people for coming victory. The Lord and His Word do not fail (Matt. 24:35, Luke 1:37, Josh. 21:45).

I can take comfort in this knowledge, that the Lord speaks His Word, and it doesn't return void (Is. 55:11). Therefore, if the Lord was really speaking to me, then I can take confidence that His Word to me will come to pass, it will be fulfilled. Furthermore, the plans the Lord has will be brought to completion (1 Chron. 28:19). I can rest in the assurance that the Lord knows what He wants for my life, and that He is working in me and through me to accomplish His will. I might not understand every nuance or every detail, but I can be confident that He hasn't overlooked any detail, and that He hasn't forgotten anything vital or important. Thus, He knows that I need a good job, that my parents need care, and that my personal life (whatever comes of it), must align with His overarching will for me.

Looking Forward

I feel confident that I will get hired at Auburn University. I feel weird saying this right now, and if I am wrong, well then I will have "egg on my face." In truth, though, I have had this weird peaceful feeling for a long while now, since I applied. I have also felt that it was the Lord's will for me to move to the SE, even though I had never considered AL as a destination. Still, when I did most of my scoping out of places to live, I wasn't working in higher education nor was I thinking I would be a professor. Thus, while I didn't look at AL specifically, I did actually look at a number of schools in each place. I was looking at them for potential work (as in non-faculty) as well as for schools for my son. Weirdness rules!

Right now, this is what I feel may be the Lord's will for my life:
  1. Moving to AL sometime this summer. Originally, I felt the Lord saying that I would move in July, in time for a Fall start (August 16, 2015)
  2. Taking on a teaching role in Communications, even if it is not directly in my area of expertise (public speaking versus argumentative writing)
  3. Taking a non-tenure track position (one year, possibly up to five years) at a much lower rate of pay than non-faculty positions
  4. Becoming a professor rather than an administrator, even though I would prefer the latter to the former
  5. Living in or near Auburn
  6. Purchasing a home versus renting (rents are very high there)
  7. Continuing my education at Auburn -- a second PhD in Rhetoric perhaps?
We will see if all this comes to pass, but for now, I have a sense of peace about #1, 2, 3, and 4. The rest, #5, 6 and 7 are not that important at this time or at the least are not really issues (the Lord will provide a home for me within driving distance, for example). Whether I buy or rent is immaterial -- He will provide for me. The last one is my desire. I would like to continue my studies in Rhetoric, but for now, I will have to wait and see what the Lord has in mind for me after I finish up at Regent.

In Closing

The Lord's is faithful and His word is for certain. Not every word that we hear is from the Lord, but for those that seek Him faithfully, diligently, and listen intently, often we receive inspiration, affirmation and confirmation regarding His plans for our life. I know in my case that I have received all three on more occasions that I can recount. The Lord has been gracious to help me understand His will for my life, and to interpret His Word to me so that I wouldn't be confused about what He wanted me to do. I trust what I hear because the Word tells us,

John 10:27 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

I may not understand how I can hear His voice, but there are times when I am certain I have heard it. I read the Word, of course, but there are other times, when I hear words in my head that prompt me to action. Yes, I listen intently to make sure that those words are in alignment with Scripture, and I wash my thoughts through His Word to make sure my mind is always being conformed to it (cleansed). Still, I don't always understand, and I often get confused about details. The Lord is gracious to me, and while I have made some judgment errors, for the most part, I have found that the Lord has never led me astray or too far off the mark. I am where I am today because I have listened to the Word of the Lord. I believe His Word to me is true (John 17:17b), and I trust and rely upon His Word for guidance, for life, and for every decision I make. May the Lord be praised forevermore! Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

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