March 24, 2015

Will It Ever Get Easier?

It is Tuesday, and I wish I could say that it is a good day. In truth, it is a very good day because the Lord has made it.

Psalm 118:24 - This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Still, I am not one-hundred percent satisfied with this day being called "good!" Harumph!

I am guessing my feelings about the day are a direct result of my lack of sleep last night. After I had a wonderful phone conversation with a good friend, I graded 20 essays and 16 quizzes. By the time I finished, it was 1:20 a.m. I knew I had to get into bed because the carpet guy was coming this morning to clean our carpets. Well, I laid down and then waited. I mean, I waited to fall asleep. I think I finally drifted off around 4 a.m.

I woke up at 7:20 with a pounding headache, and the thought "why did we ask the guy to come at 9:00 today?" Well, as I recall, my Mom asked him to "come early" because she likes things to be done really early in the morning. I am not a morning person, never have been, never will be. My son had school early, so at the least, he is out of the house. I am sure he wasn't happy about this day either. He had to clean his room up, which I think took place sometime between 2-4 a.m. He was out of the house by 8:30 in order to make it to his 9:00 class. He isn't a morning person either (a chip off the old block).


I am choosing to see this day as good. Why? Well, how about because the Lord is good, and everything He creates is good! Yes, that is a fine reason to view the day, IMHO!

Oh Lord, help me! I am trapped in my room with two cats. No one bothered to tell me that the carpet guy would need the front door open so his hoses can come in the house. This means that, Ike, cannot free roam as he normally would. Winston, poor Winnie, is under the covers of the bed simply because the door bell rang. Ike, on the other hand, is Mr. Nosy. He has to be in the middle of everything. He is not happy being stuck in this room with me. He is crying at the door, but I will have to remain firm. I cannot risk him getting outside!


So is "no news, good news?" I hear people say that all the time, but I don't really think it is true. I mean, just because you don't hear any news doesn't necessarily mean that when you do, it will be good. In argumentation, this is a false assumption based upon correlation. The two things aren't necessarily correlated to one another. So just because I haven't heard anything from my job applications, doesn't mean that I will hear anything good or at all. I have let this go, this need to know about the job because truthfully, there is nothing I can do about it. I mean, perhaps worrying about it would give me a sense that I am involved in the process, but really, my worrying has no direct cause/effect to the outcome of whether I will be asked to interview. Weird how that is, but it is the truth. We worry over things we cannot control all the time. The worrying has no effect and will not change the outcome, yet we do it nonetheless. 

I have thought about the two jobs I have applied for at Auburn University, and I cannot make up my mind which one I would like best. They are different positions, one teaching and the other administration, but they both would be good full-time work for me. I would like the one that is the least stressful, of course. I doubt either are less stress. I would like the flexible one -- teaching -- because of the varied schedule and the holidays and summers off. I would also like to keep on teaching because I do love the experience of engaging my students in dialog. Yet, so many times I feel absolutely rotten about my performance, and it is on those days, that I want to give up and give in.

The administrative position would be good because it is long-term and stable. It is a "good pay, good work, until I retire" kind of position. I like that idea. I like the thought of having a job that would have no worries as far as income and stability. Whew!

But then I think to myself "Is one a better fit for me?"

Isn't it funny (not as in ha ha, but as in curious) that we often think there is just "one" right way to go. I have blogged about this before, but the concept of "one right path" sticks with me. Yesterday on Facebook, I read a Crosswalk.com article called "No, God didn't tell you to marry your spouse." The writer was writing about the fact that some people believe that there is "one right person" to marry. I guess this is why this is on my mind today. Is there "one right person to marry?" Is there "one right job to take?" If so, how do we know when we are offered choices to make that we will make the "right choice?"

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I have read elsewhere that the best approach to decision-making is prayer. Then it is wise counsel. Then it is pro-con list making whereby we line up the options against the Word of God, the needs of our family, etc. The outcome of the decision should be that it doesn't go against the Word, hurt our family, or cause us to sin. If it doesn't do anything of these things, then the decision could be considered a good thing.

Still, I wonder if that is the "right way" to make a decision. It does sound good to me. But then there is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Hmmm. Lean not on your own understanding...what does that mean? Wouldn't my pro-con list be my own understanding of matters? If we are to trust in the Lord, first and foremost, and acknowledge Him (as knowing what is best), then I would say that anything we do in our own interpretation may be "wrong." This leads me to believe that it is better to follow the path of peace in decision making than to use human wisdom.

Is human wisdom wrong then? No, I don't think so. I think it is more a matter of praying about the decision, seeking the Lord's counsel, and then trusting Him to lead you into the place of peace. If you have peace, then you can know that you are on the "right track." Sure, from this point, you can make pro-con lists, discuss with others, validate your approach with scripture, etc. But without peace to guide you into all truth, then I think we run the risk of "leaning on our own understanding."  John 16:13 says,

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

Hmmm. So the Holy Spirit will guide you in all truth. He will not speak of His own volition, but He will tell you what He has heard [from God]. And, He will tell you about the future. This seems to me to say that if you want to know what will be, then you must seek the Lord's counsel through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Okay, so is there one right path to go? I am not sure, but the Word says that the Lord will guide us in our steps (our path).

Isaiah 58:11 - The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

and

Psalm 32:8 - The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

Moreover, we read about guidance in the following verses...

James 1:5 - But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Psalm 25:4-5 - Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.

Psalms 143:8 - Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.

Okay, so clearly the Word is instructing us in the truth when we are encouraged to seek the Lord first regarding any question on the path we are to take or choice we need to make. However, are we talking about paths (as in direction) or character training (as in my integrity or righteousness?) Good question. I think the answer is both. 

We are to seek the Lord for our character-building (again something we do not do, but more so, what the Holy Spirit does in us). How we walk, thus, is in direct correlation to our relationship with the Lord. If we are walking in His way, seeking Him, trusting Him, etc., then our outward behavior, manners, and our inward conscience should be aligned. Furthermore, any decision we make or need to make would be considered in light of our relationship with the Lord and our desire to accomplish His will. It would also be a direct result of our desire to please the Lord, and in pleasing Him, we would want to seek to do all the things the Word tells us we should -- for our good and for the good of others. Therefore, I would say that we are to seek the Lord first, trust in His voice and in the Holy Spirit's peace and comfort, and then acknowledge that because He is God, He does know best for our lives. Once we let go of our need to use human wisdom to figure things out, to decide what is best, then we can rest and He will direct (guide and lead) our steps.


So then is there ever a reason to worry, to doubt or to fear when it comes to making a decision or choice for our life (be it marriage, a career change, birth of a child, relocation, etc.)? I think not. I think that if we have done what the writer of Proverbs says in chapter 3, verses 4-5, we are doing the best thing we could do -- we are seeking the Lord for His guidance and wisdom. But, we are not just leaving it at "asking God what to do," but rather we are "trusting or believing" God for what He tells us to do, knowing that it is "right, good, and proper" for us to do it.

When I think about my decision to move to AL, I am reminded of the steps I took before I applied to these positions. First off, I sought the Lord's wisdom on location. Second, I inquired as to the timing of such a move. Third, I did consider my family needs. Fourth, I studied the practical aspects of making a move. And, last, I made sure that I was not seeking my own way or will, but rather, I was seeking what I believed was the Lord's way and will.

My decision-making process, therefore, seems sound. Still, I worried about the outcome, the details, and the what-ifs of making such a bold move. I also questioned my own motives, my wants and my desires. I vacillated between teaching and admin work, living here or there, and of course, the timing of it all. I came to the point where I felt I had made a mistake in taking such a step of faith. Perhaps I was short-sighted. Perhaps I was being too bold. Perhaps I was guiding my own steps rather than letting the Lord guide me.

I had peace, for sure, but did I have "enough" peace. Did I have the right kind of peace to ensure that I could follow through on such a move?

When it comes down to it, this is what I know...

Whether I go or stay, I do so with the Lord's permission and His provision. I cannot go on my own so therefore I am free to be bold. If I erred in stepping out, then it was an error in my faith in the Lord, believing that I was to go forward at this time and to this place. No harm, no foul. I stepped out in faith. The Lord didn't open the door, but that doesn't mean He won't do so in the future. 

How will I know if my boldness paid off? I will wait and see what comes to pass. If nothing, then I know that I stepped out in faith, but the timing or other details were not "set." If one of these jobs does come to pass, then I will know that the prompting I felt from the Holy Spirit was "spot on." What if it is the former rather than the latter? I guess that is simply part of the life lesson. Learning how to walk in faith, to step out in boldness, and to be faithful are all lessons we must learn. We each learn them in different ways. For some, the lesson comes from merely considering the move. For others, it is taking a step and applying for a job or visiting some new place to "scope it out." And, for some, it is to go, to walk about, like Abraham, leaving everything behind and walking in faith without knowing any outcome or expecting any blessing other than that which comes from a keen desire to walk in obedience to the Lord.

I pray that my faith will be like Abraham. I feel like my faith is weak, so weak. I struggle, I strive, and I stress over every detail. I suffer needlessly most of the time simply because I worry about the things that are out of my control. I shouldn't do it, yet I do. I know better. I know what it does to me, how it makes me feel, and why it is not good for me (health-wise). Still, I try so very hard to figure it all out, to know the outcome, and to expect the result. I want to expect nothing but the pleasure of obeying my Lord. I want to believe that He is pleased with me when I trust Him, lean on Him, and abide in Him. 

You might ask me if I seek Him for worship and adoration or do I seek Him for blessing and provision?

Yes and yes. I do both, but I know the latter seems to be more of a "desire and need" than the former. Ouch! It is something I think about often, and something I do consider deeply. My devotion to the Lord should be because of who He is, and not because of what He does for me. BAM!

Yet, He does so much for me. It is difficult not to focus on the provision and blessing because it seems that there is so much of it. At the least, this is true of late. The Lord has blessed me richly, abundantly, and with great favor. I haven't done anything to merit it, yet the blessing comes to me. Lately, the blessing has been stifled a bit, slower to come, not as frequent. Why is this? I don't rightly know, but I do wonder about it.

Blessing and favor are in His hand. He chooses whom to bless, and His timing for blessing is perfect.

Romans 9:18 - So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Yes, I have no control over the blessing or the timing of it. I do know that I can stop the flow of blessing by sin. Yes, if I am willfully engaging in sinful behavior, in lust or in other evil desires, then the flow of blessing is stopped. One cannot be blessed if they are outside the specter of grace.

Hmmm....

I don't think this is the reason at all. Therefore, if blessing and favor has been stifled or slowed, there must be another reason. I do not know, but because of the Word of Romans, I can take comfort in the fact that the God of all Blessing freely chooses to bless whom He chooses. I have no control over the blessing or the timing of the blessing. I am simply a recipient of His marvelous and mysterious grace.

As I consider this day, whether I feel it is a good day or not, the fact remains that God is good, and that everything He does (past, present and future) is good. I can rest in this fact alone and know that I am blessed, favored, and that my life pleases the Lord. I seek Him diligently, trusting Him with everything I have, all that I am, and all that hope to be. Matthew 6:33 says,

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So whether I come or I go, whether I live in Phoenix or in Auburn, whether I teach or I administrate -- I can take comfort in the knowledge that He will give me whatever I need, whenever I need it. Selah!

No comments: