December 31, 2015

It All Makes Sense Now

Yesterday, I blogged about my progress with my study materials and my approach to preparing for my program end qualification exams. The process of wrapping my head around three years of materials -- 8 semesters of doctoral classes with 50-60 or more books -- has been daunting, to say the least.

Now, I am almost ready to begin "the studying" part, and that feeling of panic is starting to settle in. My mind is racing with questions that ask me if I am ready, if I am prepared. I am thinking about tomorrow when really I should be thinking about today. I know this, I know this, but still I cannot help but to allow these questions to percolate up and sit in my mind...

Do I have enough material? Did I prepare thoroughly? Will I succeed or will I fail?

Pass or Fail

The whole idea of ending your doctoral program based on the passing or failing of comprehensive exams seems ridiculous to me, but this is how most programs are structured. No matter how well you do in the courses, if you cannot pull it out in that "clutch moment," well your hopes and dreams will be dashed to pieces just "like that" (with a snap of my fingers!) My heart is sinking right now. Oh no, may it not be this way!

As I think about what has come before and what lays ahead of me, one thing is for sure: I cannot continue this way without His help and guidance. In truth, every step I have taken has been ordered, planned, and prepared by Him. I am following after Him, and I am looking to Him for His help. I cannot do this, no way, in my own flesh. I cannot do this without His inspiration, and His absolute grace and mercy. I need Him today, badly, so very badly. Calm my nerves and my fears, O Lord! Give me your gracious help this good, good day. I pray now for your inspiration, guidance, and most of all, your boldness to go forward and keep on moving down this path. You alone are to receive all praise, all honor, and all glory. You alone, Lord, are my rock and my refuge. You are my strength and my strong tower. I love you, Lord, and I so desperately need you today. Amen, selah!

Today is a good day, then, a very good day. It is cold outside right now, and even in the house, the temperature is hovering at 71 degrees. I am sitting in my study area wrapped in my fleece robe, and feeling comfortable. But, I can feel the chilly air passing through my window and it reminds me that we are in winter (well, what you would call winter for Arizona). In many places in the Midwest and east, winter comes in harsh and brutal, with rains, sleet, ice, and snow. I am fortunate that where I live the most we get is frost, and even at that, the days tend to warm up nicely. Of course, we suffer with the brutal heat of the summer, so our summer contends with other people's winter woes. Still, I am blessed to live here and to be able to enjoy a good life in this pleasant place.

As I marvel at God's grace, I am reminded that in all things my chief aim is to worship the Lord and to give Him glory. I do this now because as I think about today, about what I have to do (left to do that is), I know that when it all comes down or out in the wash, as I like to say, my ultimate goal is always to see that He is glorified. I may fail, my flesh WILL fail, but the Lord is to receive all glory, praise and honor. Thus, no matter what happens today or tomorrow, I will do my best to see that He is honored. In my study, in my approach, in my conversation, and even in my thoughts, I will endeavor to give Him praise. I know that I will falter again, more than once, and yet, I will press on and remind myself that "this too shall pass." The Lord is the Lord of all, and in and through Him, all things were made. He holds me together with as much assurance as He holds the universe together. I can trust Him, I can rely on Him, and I can know for sure, for sure, that He has me well-covered this good, good day. The Lord be praised, the Lord be praised, the Lord be praised, for He is good, so very good. Selah!

Therefore, as I take the turn into 2016 (tonight), I lay to rest these fears, and I take on the boldness of Joshua. I will be bold, and I will take courage. But, not in my own strength or in my own efforts or faculties, but in Him alone. He is my God, my King, my Shepherd. I love the Lord with all my mind, with all my strength, and with all my soul for He alone is good to me. He has covered me with His grace, He has made a way for me to go, and He has set my feet (both of them) on the solid rock, the solid path. I know He will see me through this process, this mountain of grief, of great difficultly, and in and through it, I will be changed. I will be changed for the better.

Dear Lord,

You have changed me for the better. I have been remade, reborn, and now the work I do, all of it, school included, is dedicated to you for your Name and your praise. You have brought me this far, and I am trusting that you will see me through to the end. I don't know what you will do, but I know that you will not leave me nor will you forsake me. You will stick with me, stay the course, and see me through all because of your love, your will, and your word to me. You are my God, and today, I claim and I commit my way to you. I can do nothing in and of myself, and thus, I must release it all today and let your power flow through me. I ask now that you will do whatever is necessary to prepare me, train me, and equip me for what lays ahead of me. I will do what you ask, and I will let my own way go. You know best, and you have this all figured out. I let this go now, and I say Lord, I will follow you. I will follow you. I ask all of this in the matchless, merciful, and most majestic name of our Lord Jesus Christ, amen! So be it, thy will be done. Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it).

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