September 28, 2015

Looking Ahead

It is a good Monday here in sunny and hot Phoenix, Arizona. Yes, it is still summer and while most of the country is enjoying the blessedness of cooler fall temperatures, it is hot, hot, hot, here in Arizona. In fact, this week our forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-100s. Today's high is supposed to be near 102. Later in the week, the forecast is showing highs of 106! Yikes! How I want to move someplace else -- soon!

God of Heaven

I don't know if you watched the lunar eclipse last night or not, but here in Phoenix it was visible for a good hour-hour and half. The eclipse itself was interesting to watch, with the moon looking sort of an orange/red color, and sitting fairly large in the sky.

This morning as I drove to campus, the "super moon" was large in the sky, and I thought about the infinite wisdom of our God, and how He has created the stars and the moon and set them in the sky for His creation to see. As I watched the moon rise, I was reminded of this verse from Isaiah 40:26 NLT,

"Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing."

Today as I consider my life, and I think about my future, I know that there is nothing too big for my God. In truth, there is nothing outside of His knowledge and His ability. No matter my circumstance, I know that He is the God of all creation, and in that role, He is able to change the circumstances of my life in an instant. He is able to create life, to create possibilities and opportunities, simply by setting His mind on it. The Word says that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, and in the one act of creation, all of life was brought into being. In some views of philosophy this idea of creating something out of nothing is startling, but in other more ancient views, it is simply the acknowledgement of a pre-existent life force that orders and sustains everything. Thus, when the ancient writers say that God created life out of nothing, they attribute the fact that the God of the Universe pre-existed all known creation, and that through His imaginative creative act, was able to bring forth life.

As I looked at the moon today, I thought about this idea, that the Lord of Heaven spoke forth life. Prior to communicating His desire, He imagined (thought) life into being. His vocal act simply provided the agency to facilitate the desire of His creative mind. Therefore, as I consider my days, my ways, and the trials I face, I remember that Creator God is the author and finisher of my faith. The journey I am on today is part of His overarching plan for my life. He is able to bring forth life in me and through me simply because He desires it to be so. This says to me that my circumstances are beyond my control in many ways. I may blunder, and I may walk into places where I shouldn't be, but if my intention is always to seek His will in every area of my life, then the chance that I will end up someplace not of His accord, is highly unlikely. I am not walking to the beat of my own drum, but rather I am walking hard after the One who is leading me onward. Thus, my steps are ordered and prepared by the Lord. 

I am Where He Desires Me to Be

This is the truth, the practical reality of my life. It is not by happenstance that I am at GCU this morning. It is not just "fate or destiny" that I am teaching the courses I am teaching this semester. No, every action, every outcome is planned and prepared by His hands -- and carefully -- He has chosen the outcome He desires for me. I can rest in His wisdom and knowledge. I can know for certain that I am not "willy nilly" doing something that might prove disastrous for me. No, I am doing exactly what the Lord desires me to do. With this knowledge, I can rest in the path, I can let go of the anticipation and anxiety I feel whenever I begin to think about tomorrow and the plans He has for me. It has been a long process for me to get to this place of faith. It has been difficult for me to let go of the mindset that says that I determine my way, and that I must figure out if my way pleases the Lord. I have come to understand that my way will never please the Lord, therefore, no matter what I choose to do, I will fall short. It is only through my surrender to His way that I am able to know for certain that I am walking in His way. His way will always produce results, will always satisfy His desires, and will always please Him.

It is good to be where He wants me to be. It is good to be doing the work He desires for me to do. It is good to rest, to let go, and let Him have His way. It is good, so very good, to be living in the Lord's expressed will, and to know, to know deep down inside, that I am right where He wants me to be today.

With this understanding, I can now move on. I mean, I can now look forward to the future, and know for certain, with 100% assurance, that I am doing the 'exact' thing He wants me to do. What a relief! I mean, I no longer have to question if I am on the right path, doing the right thing, working in the right job, or even living in the right place because I know that I am already blessed, already provided for, and already approved for this work. My days are numbered, accorded to me, and I am doing all that I can to accomplish the work He has in mind for me. I might still goof, and I may feel as though I have failed Him, but even despite my human frailty, I can take comfort in the knowledge that He has me so well-covered. I am completely under His care, in the mercy of His care, and with that understanding, I know that He will not let go of me. I can follow freely now, without hesitation because I understand that wherever He takes me it will be His choice. It is not if He will choose; no, it is that HE HAS ALREADY CHOSEN. There is such a difference in mindset when you have chosen to agree with Him, to accept that with God there is no "maybe" in His mind.  He either is or isn't. He doesn't waffle. He doesn't vary. He makes up His mind, and then He follows through on His decision. It is always good, always best. There are no shades of 'good.' There is only His good, and in human terms, that good is superlative (the best good possible).

Today, I marvel at this knowledge, and I thank the Lord for giving me the grace to come to this understanding in His time. I wish I would have learned this lesson sooner, but knowing myself well, I grasp the fact that with me, well, sometimes I am stubborn and hardheaded. Sometimes I need time to process details, to grasp the significance of events, and to accept the truth. The Lord has graciously provided this time, given me time, so that I could accept His will, and understand how He will works. I get it now. I see it. I understand it.

What Does This Mean for Me?

What this means for me is that I can rest in my work, my daily work. You see, I have stressed, struggled, and strived to figure out IF I was doing the right thing. I mean, is teaching the best career for me? Is living in Phoenix the best place for me to live? Is Regent the best school for my PhD? I have been befuddled by all these questions, and while I have walked in faith through many of them, I still second-guess if I am doing the right thing. Lord, am I on the right path? Am I doing the "thing" you want me to do? As I have struggled to answer these questions, I have doubted His sufficiency. I have questioned His integrity. Do you really know what is best for me, Lord? Are you sure, Lord?

He has patiently waited for me to come to terms with the fact that 1) He is God, and 2) that as God, He does indeed know what He is doing.

My flesh fails me. My flesh cries out in fear. Yet, throughout His Word, He clearly advocates for His children, He stands by them, flesh and frailty, and He upholds them by the very words of His promise to them. He is God, He is able. He is good. There is nothing else, nothing more satisfying that accepting His nature, His character, and His promise. In doing so, there is assurance that He will do as He has promised because it is in His nature to keep His word, to deliver on His word, and to be faithful to His word. God can be trusted. He can be known. He can be a place of security. I have experienced this truth over and over in my life, and yet, I still doubt. My flesh doubts. My spirit desires to be faithful, to be set, but my flesh, oh my flesh, simply chooses not to believe. My eyes see, my heart doubts. 

Today is a good day because I have come to this place of faith that says "I believe you, Lord." Yes, I believe your word is truth. I believe your word to me is true.

As I think about today, my life seems to be more in focus than ever. I realize that I am one step closer to my dream of becoming a professor, teaching college English, and enjoying the blessings and benefits of full-time work. I also realize that I have finally discovered my purpose, and it is not what I thought it would be. In fact, I would say that my purpose has been clarified over the past 4-5 years, and I see now that I am doing the very thing the Lord called me, prepared me, and equipped me to do. What is that you say? Well, the thing I am doing is living out my life as a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am living it out in such a way as to give Him full sovereignty over my days, my nights, and months and years. I am no longer trying to dash here or there, but instead, I am resting in His completeness, knowing that He is able to do whatever He desires in my life. This means that I no longer have to worry about this path or that plan. Instead, I simply allow Him to do whatever He desires, and I cooperate with Him. If He says go here, I go here. If He says do this work, then I do this work. It relieves me of all responsibility for the planning and purposing of my days. I can truly say that I am able to say "Yes, Lord" and "So be it, Lord" and mean it. My life has been good, very good, and though I spent many years in the dry and parched desert, I have been living in the land of fulfillment and blessing for a long time. In fact, I would say that since January 2010, my life has incrementally, progressively, become better. Quality. Quantity. And contentment have flowed from His throne, and I have enjoyed the fullness of experiencing life in His presence through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. My life is good, all of it is so very good. I now look forward to my days, to the experiences the Lord has for me. I know that someday soon He will move me. Someday soon He will provide a full-time position teaching college English. Until then, I patiently wait and I look up. I look for His hand to provide. I don't try to rush the process or force a job to come to pass; no not at all. I simply wait for it. I wait with anticipation and expectancy to see the Lord deliver His promise reward to me. He is faithful, He has promised it, and He will do it for me.

Thus, my life has become clear. I am no longer trying to come to terms with the inconsistencies and other difficulties in my life. They are what they are, and I am right where He wants me to be. I let go, I let Him lead, and I follow. It is a good place to be. I am content. I am happy. I am at peace in His presence, and in the promised fulfillment of His will. Selah (pause and calmly think about it).

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