August 27, 2015

Understanding My "Place"

It is a rainy Thursday here in Phoenix. Yes, you read that correctly -- it is raining! Well, it was just a few minutes ago, and we had some lightning and thunder too. I just checked the radar and it looks like we are set for more scattered showers tonight, and the temperature has dropped about 15 degrees from our high of 105. Oh, it is so pleasant right now.

As I sit here in my home office, I have been struggling today to get myself together. I mean, I have been trying to get organized, and to make progress on some of my school assignments. I have been frustrated with my computer (my Mac) so I spent most of last week working with my PC. I upgraded from Windows 8.1 to 10, and so far, I like the new software. I also upgraded my laptop, and it seems to be running faster and smoother. However, I have found that while I like my PC (when it doesn't fuss at me), I really am not as comfortable working on it as I am on the Mac. I don't know why this is the case because my Mac generally runs slower than my PC. It takes a while to boot up, and the applications seem slower to load. Still, I find that I am more comfortable with the Mac OS, and in that, I seem to be more productive. Go figure.

With that in mind, suffice it to say that I didn't get as much done today as I would have preferred. I did make some "thinking progress," but that is not going to help me on my discussion boards, my critical reviews or my teaching prep. No, I am behind, and for what it is worth, I am feeling the sting of guilt. It is no one's fault but my own. Sigh.

Making New Discoveries

Today has been an interesting day for sure. It started out sluggish, and it seemed like nothing was going to go my way. I woke up tired, and I dragged myself out of the house and over to ACU for my morning class. In truth, I so wanted to call in sick today, to stay at home. I prayed on the way over, and I remember saying to the Lord, "why did I take this contract, Lord?" I needed the money, that was why, and I took it because the Chair needed me to teach this class. I took it because I wanted to make more money, and I thought it would be a good idea. I don't mind the course really, but I am feeling the pinch of time or lack of time, thereof, and here I am at the start of the semester whining about why I am so tired. Sigh!

After class ended (which was good, BTW), I drove home. I was praying in my spirit and I started to ask the Lord about doing His work. I am not sure why I asked Him about this, but I did. I started to say something along the lines of where I will go or end up to do "this work." I have always been under the impression that the Lord intended me to move, to go someplace to do His work. I have known that I wouldn't remain here in Phoenix, but I have not really known where I will end up. I have considered a number of places, and with the Lord's permission, I have learned as much about them as possible. Still, I remained in Phoenix, and my desire to move some place else simply simmered on the back burner while I attended to everything here and now.

As I prayed, I started to thank the Lord for helping me to figure out my calling. I thanked Him for showing me that teaching is a way for me to fulfill my calling. I recalled my discovery from the other day when I finally realized that the job I did for daily provision was simply good work. The ministry work, the "thing" I am called to do was different. It just so happened that teaching (that practical good work) also fulfilled God's design for ministry. This revelation was eye-opening for me because it helped me to finally accept the path I am on, which is teaching full-time, being a professor, and working at a college or university until I retire.

I have been so confused for such a long time. I kept wanting to "do something" and that something seemed so elusive to me. I wanted to "be" someone, some one who has a good job, a career, a purpose. I embraced my calling and purpose as God-ordained, but I couldn't quite figure it out. I mean, how would I do the thing the Lord wanted me to do. Where would I do it, and when would I start to do it. Until some future date, I presumed, I would just "keep on keeping on" -- doing whatever I could, whenever I could do it, and I would pray, trust, and hope for further clarification from the Lord. I knew that my schooling figured prominently, and that my PhD in specific was part of His will, but I couldn't accept that my life was already in motion, that the plan He had for me was already in place. I was already doing the "thing" He called me to do. I just didn't know it.

Once I accepted that I am called to teach, that my ministry is to reach students for Christ, and to mentor them and build them up so that they develop strong roots that go down deeply into the foundation of God's Word, everything seemed to fall into its rightful place. I knew that my job was to teach practical skill (writing and communication), but really I was affirming and encouraging them in God's call on their life. I was to be the person who would confirm their call, who would direct them, help them find that path, and then motivate them to seek Him with their whole heart. Yes, my job is to motivate, to mentor, and to minister to young people so that they will come to know the Lord, to know Him better, and to trust their life into His hands. My work, therefore, is to do this ministry one-on-one as the Lord leads me. I do it through college/university classes, and I do it without shame because it is what the Lord intends for me to do. He equips me, He empowers me, and He enables me to do this work.

With all that figured out, one piece of the big puzzle remained and that was where I was to do this work. I am adjunct right now, and while I am thankful for that part-time work, I know that I need full-time work to sustain my life. I also believe that the Lord does plan to move me, but I have been tossed about as to where that place would be. This part of the unknown future has troubled me, and especially in light of my parents situation, I feel compelled to "know" what the Lord intends to do. Hence, I pray about it all the time. Without ceasing, really. I am constantly asking the Lord where He intends to send me and when.

Today -- just like every other day -- I asked the Lord where He intended to send me. The difference today was that rather than hearing Him say for me to rest, I started to think more clearly about my purpose, my work, and His plan for my life. This was just clicked...all the unknown seemed to become clear to me. Let me explain...

Wanting to Find that Place of Happiness

In the middle of my prayers today, I figured out that my "place" or where I live in this life is inconsequential to my happiness. Yep, it was quite a startling revelation that I had today, and I think it tagged itself onto my discovery of my calling, something I blogged about the other day. You see, the Lord has been working in my life to get me to "see" or to understand that where I live, the work I do, etc. has nothing at all to do with my being happy or content in life. I know, grand truth, isn't it! The problem is that for most of my life, I have always wanted to be some place different. I mean, as a child, I wanted to live in a different time (era). As a young teenager, I wanted to live in a different state. As a young adult, I wanted to move to the mountains, to the country or to some place -- really -- anyplace other than where I was currently at. Once I was married, I thought "marriage" would make me happy. Yes, I did think that as a young newly married girl (I was 22 after all). I knew that marriage would be hard work, and that it would take commitment, but I thought it would also provide happiness to me. In fact, over the course of the past thirty some years I would admit that the majority of my life was spent thinking that I would be happiest IF I could move or live someplace different. I know it sounds silly, juvenile, and immature, but I really did think that moving away from my family and leaving San Jose to come here to Phoenix would make me happy. Unfortunately, I traded my unhappiness in San Jose for my unhappiness in Phoenix. Different place but same problem.

For most of my adult life I have believed that if I lived in the "right place," and had the "right job" then I would be happy, that I would be content and satisfied in life. My faith in Jesus Christ sustained me, and even with the blessing of His relationship and reconciliation, I still longed for "some place," some place that wasn't available to me. What I didn't understand was that the place I was seeking all this time was my heavenly home and not some place on earth. Yes, I longed for a place where I would find happiness, where I would be content and filled with peace and joy. It wasn't until I thought about it today that this "new understanding" seemed to click for me. I found myself saying to the Lord this morning "it doesn't matter where I live because as long as you are there, I am content." The words seemed to pop out of my mouth on their own, and once they had been articulated, I understood the content of their full meaning. I have been looking all my life for a place to belong, a place where I would be safe and secure, and where I would be content. I thought it was to be found in this life, but it wasn't until I came to this point today that I realized that what I want is not here, but it is there --> over there --> waiting for me in the distance. The Lord is calling me home, and I realize that this is where I want to be. I long to be there with Him, to sit with Him, and to listen to Him in the quiet solitude of unending days. I am not there yet, and my life has many more days before I will slip away and be with Him. Until then, there is much work to be done, and that work needs to be done here and now. It is not about going this place or that or living here or there. It is about letting the Lord of Lords and King of Kings live through me right now, right here where I am, and in this way, His will is accomplished today, tomorrow, and every day following. I finally get it, and I know that I no longer have to go anywhere to find what I am missing, longing for, and desiring. The Lord is my everything, as I always say, but still my heart wanted to believe that this wasn't enough, that He wasn't enough.

Today, I marvel at the simplicity of this notion, that the God of the Universe is not enough for me. I know that He most certainly is, and that it is through His mercy and grace that I live, I breathe, and I function today. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me -- and today while I am tired, overwhelmed, and burdened -- I rest in the knowledge that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I am living where He wants me to live, and I am doing the work He has prepared for me to do. I don't have to do anything more, and I don't have to go anywhere else. I simply must live as He calls me to live today, and I must trust that He is always enough for me. I need nothing more save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

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