I hate this feeling, this overwhelming feeling of intense panic. I don't know where it is coming from other than to say that I have this tingling sensation in my gut that tells me that something is about to happen to me. It is like when you are waiting for some big announcement, and you know it is coming, but you don't know what it will be. I can remember feeling this way when I worked for a company that was in the midst of lay-offs. This was back in the 1980's and I had worked there for about 3.5 years. I had a good job, was well liked by my peers, and didn't think I would lose my job. Still, the rumor mill said that more lay-offs were coming, and that "anyone" could be let go. I had made it through two previous lay-offs, and each time pay day rolled around, the entire company was on alert for those nasty pink slips. Yes, in those days, your boss didn't call you in to let you know you were being let go, you just opened up your pay check and there was a pink slip in the envelope. You were terminated, and there was nothing you could do about it. The worst part was the wait, working all day, trying to put on a "good face," but never knowing if you would be "saved" at the end of the day. That panic feeling, that tingling sensation, reminded you that today "could be the day," that no matter how hard you had worked previously, no matter how well liked you were by your peers and supervisors, the bottom line might just be "so long!"
This is how I feel today. I have this same feeling inside of me, just like before when I was waiting for my "pink slip" to arrive. I am trusting the Lord for His provision, daily provision, and I am resting in His ability to perform whatever needs to be performed this day. I am struggling a little bit with school, but generally I am feeling confident about my classes, my projects, and my to-do list. I don't think this "panic" is about school. No, I think it is something else, and the Lord knows that this stress is specific to something I have said, I have done, or something that is coming toward me soon. There is not much I can do, but pray, and prayer is the key here. I can pray for rest, I can pray for comfort, and I can pray for clarification so that I know if I am to blame for anything (sin, especially). If it turns out that I am not at fault in this matter, then I must look up and rest in the Lord, knowing that He has me well covered. He will protect me in this matter, He will shelter me, and He will guide me through whatever difficulty I may face in the coming weeks. I pray for His grace and His mercy this good day. I rest in His care -- His complete care -- and I look for His hand to cover me today (please, Lord, just for today!)
God is good. He is so very good to me.
Psalm 37:7 says, "Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass." I am reminded of this verse today, and I take heed, I listen, and I wait on the Lord. I will rest in the Lord today, I will wait patiently for Him, and as the AMP translates it -- I will lean upon the Lord, and not fret (stress) because of anyone else (wicked or like) who seeks my harm. No, I will believe in the plans the Lord has for me (Selah!), and I will wait upon my Sovereign Lord, who is able to handle everything that challenges, confronts, and concerns me this good day. God is good. He is so very good to me.
Clarification and What This Means
As I think about today, I am reminded of the many times that I struggle with understanding change in my life. I know I am in the midst of change because there is change happening all around me. I see it, I feel it, I experience it. I am in the midst of change, and there is nothing I can do about it. I must accept it, I must allow the movement, the transition from here to there, to take place. The Lord knows His plans for me, and He knows His timing. I rest in that fact, I rest in His way, and I know He has me so well covered. Yet, my body seems to resist this move. My mind, my heart, and my body seem to be at odds with what is happening in my life. Perhaps I am not wanting to agree with the Lord on this matter. Perhaps I am feeling like the timing is not right. Or perhaps it is just that what is coming toward me is roaring like a lion, and I cower at the power and the might of the beast. Yes, perhaps I am standing in the Lion's Den and the mere sight of the vicious lions terrifies me. I need faith like Daniel to remain steady, to trust that the Lord will stop their mouths, and will prevent these beasts from rending me to pieces.
What could be up? What is happening to me? Is this just a bad day, a day for a "mood," or is this something far more serious, more sinister, more substantial?
I think about my life today, in particular, and I reflect on the past couple weeks. I ask myself these questions - where am I going, where have I been, and what do I expect to happen today, tomorrow or this summer? I have some answers, of course, but I feel I lack clarity in most cases. I mean, I know where have I been because I have chronicled my journey on this blog, and I see the progression as I have walked through the valley's and the hills that have brought me to where I am today. I know where I am going as well. I have a plan of action, a path to follow, and I see the direction the Lord is moving in, and I follow after Him. My expectations of today, tomorrow and this summer are pretty well set. I know that next week, I am in VA. Later this summer, I will finish my classes here in Phoenix, and I will start teaching in the fall. I see the progression, it seems steady, it seems set. I do have some unknowns in my life, such as what will happen to my parents and my son? I don't have all the details on where I will end up in a year's time. I have hopes, I have dreams, and I have some idea that I may be here or there, but generally, I don't really know where I will go because the Lord hasn't clearly articulated that message to me. Still, I know that wherever it is, it will be good. It will be blessed. It will be for my best. And, it will bring glory to the Lord on High. I know this, I believe this, and I wait and trust for this to happen in my life. May it be so, Lord, may it be so.
I think the reason I am stressing so much today is three-fold. I have some projects that need completion, and I have some work that I have to do that is pressing down on me. I am concerned about my trip to VA, paying for it, and I am struggling with working adjunct next year. Still, none of these things seem outrageous or difficult to process. I mean, pretty much these things are the "same old, same old" stuff I deal with every day. No, I don't think this is what is bothering me so much. I don't think my stress, this stress, this panic is the result of these normal things. So what could be causing me to feel this way, you ask? Hmmmm....
I think there are three areas that are prime for stress. These three areas are...
Work - My work seems to be settled for the next year. I have teaching contracts from GCU, and I am still waiting for a final contract from ACU. More than likely, I will teach at these schools for fall and spring (2015-2016). I am content to do this, and I believe that these schools are provision by the Lord to cover my needs for this next year. I am OK to remain as adjunct for a time, but I do know that I need more solid work to maintain my own life. I believe that this is coming to me, and that it will be forthcoming within the next year. I know the Lord will provide that "good fitting position" to me soon. I am waiting for the best job, the best choice because I know the Lord has something really perfect waiting for me. I will wait for His provision to come to pass, and I will rest until He tells me to go, to apply, to seek or to commit to any particular path or job.
Home - My home life is in flux and this is stressful to me. Still I know that the Lord has this covered too. He knows my needs, my son's needs, and my parent's needs. He knows what will be down the road, and for now, I rest in the assurance that our bills are paid, our needs are met, and our home is safe, secure, and sound for the four of us -- for the time being. God is good. He is so very good.
Future - My future is unknown at this time. I have dreams, hopes, and plans, but nothing is set yet. Will I move here or there? Will I remain single or will I get married? Will I be a professor? What school will I teach at and what subjects will I teach? It is all very unknown, so very fuzzy, but like the other two areas, I know the Lord has me covered. I don't worry about my future because I know that no matter what happens, the Lord has a good plan for me. It will be good.
Could it be that I am stressing over nothing, then? I don't think so. I think there is something "a foot" as Sherlock Holmes would say and that means that something is coming down the pike and I need to be prepared for it. I sense it could be one of these same three things...
Yes, I sense that one of these three things will change in the near term, and that this is what I am feeling now. My work could change today or tomorrow. I mean, I am not guaranteed work at GCU or at ACU. I have contracts, but the school can cancel classes, merge them into others, or simply give them to a permanent faculty person. I could easily find myself without a job come August. Moreover, I could get a call from a school asking me to interview. I have applied at some other schools, and they are local as well as in other states. Or the Lord could direct me to apply for a different position, and I could start down a path that would settle me, relocate me or cause me to change career focus entirely. I just don't know right now.
Moreover, while my parents are doing okay right now, my Mom has fallen several times, and her memory is getting worse by the day. Today, she asked me about the pictures that I emailed my Dad (pictures of the two of them that they took for the church directory). I had just said that I emailed Dad the pictures, and asked her if she had seen them. Not two minutes later she asked me Dad what the pictures were and where he got them. She simply didn't remember our conversation that occurred two minutes prior. Mom is vacuuming right now, so she is able to do tasks, but she just cannot remember details or process complex things (like ordering from the menu at the restaurant). Her memory is failing quickly, and I cannot see us being able to remain in this home long-term. I am not sure what will happen, but it seems like this change is occurring daily, and that in the next 3-6 or 9 months, we will be faced with decisions on what to do, where to go, how to live.
This opens up the future box because it means that my life is in my own hands (well, the Lord's, I mean). I must go where He sends me, and that means wherever He opens a door for work. It would be so much easier if I worked FT now, and if I had a job where I could know that my future was secure. For example, if I worked FT as an instructor, I would know that I was in a good place, with settled income, benefits, and long-term security. I wouldn't be worried about contracts, work in the fall or spring, or anything. I would know what I would be doing in the next 3-6 or 9 months. Likewise, if I was settled in a location, like here in Phoenix (believing I was to stay here forever), then I would no longer think about moving some place else. I would be set, just set, and I would not have issues or concerns. But I don't know, well I don't think this has ever been the Lord's will for me. No, I don't think this has been or is His will for my future. I have always felt that I would move elsewhere, to another state, and my retirement years would be filled with green trees, grass, and variable weather conditions (so no desert!) Consequently, I am unsure of what will happen next and that does create some stress for me. But since most people don't have an oracle to know the future, the stress is more of an annoyance, rather than anything pressing. No, my future is unknown, but it is not the source of all this difficulty, at the least, I do not think this is the case.
What Then is the Matter?
In all honesty, the only thing I can think of is that I am feeling the heat of oppression once again. I am being oppressed by the enemy because of my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am standing firm, shield held high, sword at the ready, and I am armed for battle. The enemy wants to beat me down, to knock me to the ground, and while he has routed me a couple times, I am standing firm in my faith in the RISEN AND EXALTED Lord! Yes, my victor and my champion are at my right hand, and He has overcome. The devil must flee, and while he achieves some mischief in causing me grief, the truth is that I am free from his arrows and flames because of what my Lord has already accomplished on the cross of Calvary. I am free, I am free, I am free.
This oppression seems to come on as a result of two things. Either I step into the battle fray because of sin in my life or the enemy attacks me because he is able to do so. The latter is most frequent, even though I do sin (don't get me wrong) because often I forget to stand strong against the enemy. I forget to do as Ephesians 6 says -- put on the full armor of God. In the end, I must stand against the devil, I must take my place on the battlefield, and I must not let him pin me down. The Lord is my shield, He is my buckler, and my refuge and strong tower. I run to Him when I feel routed, bested, and trampled. He picks me up, comforts me, and sends me back out again with the reminder that I am victorious. I can overcome because He has already overcome. I rest in Him, and I abide in Him. I allow Him to complete His perfect work in me. In this way, He continually overcomes through me, and in that manner, I experience the victory moment-by-moment, day-by-day. He is good. He is so very good to me.
Standing and Letting the Lord Abide
John 15:7 says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." Abiding in the Lord is a challenge at times, but it really just means to stay, to remain, and to not let go. However, it also can mean to "accept or act in accordance with (a rule, decision, or recommendation)," and in this case, this aligns with Scripture because we are asked to accept the New Covenant (and agreement) and the terms and conditions associated with it. In this manner, we abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Word, because of our relationship, our agreement in the New Covenant. We are co-laborers, co-heirs with Christ Jesus, but we must abide in Him, we must remain and stay firm in our conviction of His finished work on the cross. I struggle with abiding at times, not because I deny His Lordship, but rather because I choose to stand on my own and take on the world (natural and spiritual) without His power, His presence, and His perfect peace. Yes, I try to do things on my own, and whenever I do that, I fall and the enemy takes advantage of my weakness, my error, and my mistake. Thus, today, I stand firm in my conviction, I remain and I abide in the Lord, and in His finished work. I trust Him, I rest in Him, and I look to Him for my needs, my life, and my future hopes -- because all of these things are predicated upon my relationship status -- my spirit resting in Him, letting go, and letting Him have His way in me. I trust you, Lord. I let go today, and I listen as you guide and direct me. Praise be to God, you are Good! You are so very good to me!!