December 5, 2015

Twenty More Days

I am freaking out right now. It is December 5th, and that means that there are 20 more days left until Christmas. What happened to this month, this fall, this year? Oh, my goodness!! I am so not ready for Christmas. I mean, I do have my tree up and decorated, and I have some of the outside decorations on the house, but my mind is just not in the "Christmas mood" yet. I am feeling that pinch that says "It's almost Christmas time, and I am not ready for it!"

I think the reason I feel this way is because my life has been running in overdrive the past couple months. I mean, this semester at Regent has been my most difficult. On top of that, I have had a full-course load at ACU and GCU (combined, four classes). Plus there has been all the extra work needed here at the house, so put it all together, shake and stir, and well, you have a very full, very robust, and very time-consuming and tiring semester!

Praise be to God, it is almost over. Thanks to the Lord, I am still "in tact," and I am "with it," you know, still mentally in the game. This is the Lord's doing, so I give Him all the praise and honor this good day. I mean, He has kept me mentally sharp. My physical body has suffered more than before, just with fatigue and with pain, but mentally, He has kept me on top of my studies, with all the ups and downs, and He has seen to it that I ended my semester (really, my entire year) with such good success. God is so amazingly good to me, so very good to me.

Today is a Good Day

Psalm 122:1 says, "A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David. I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD.'" This verse always comes to my mind whenever I think about the goodness of each day. I hear this voice in my head say to me, "Today is a good day to go to the house of the Lord!" And, then Psalm 122 pops in, and I remember the words of David as he declared,

Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that is built As a city that is compact together; To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD-- An ordinance for Israel-- To give thanks to the name of the LORD.

The Lord loves His people and He loves His holy city. My heart is with the people of Jerusalem, and my heart longs to be home with the Lord, in His Holy Temple, on His Holy Mount.

Today is a good day to worship the Lord. Today is a good day to sing His praises, to recall His psalms. Today is a good day to surrender all, to remember the goodness of the Lord, His promises, His faithfulness, and His steadfastness. Today is a good day to remember His love, His mercy, and His grace!

As I think about this day, about my life, in general, and about how I am moving forward, succeeding and achieving all the Lord has in mind for me -- I am reminded -- that I can do nothing without His approval, His will on the matter, and His ability working in me and through me. I mean, in truth, I am hopeless, helpless, and I need His strength, His diligence, His fortitude, and His mercy (oh, His blessed mercy) to complete any task required of me. I do it all in His strength. I do everything through His ability because what He is asking me to do is so far beyond me, so high above me, and so totally out of the reach of my human hands. I need Him. I so need Him. He is good to me, He gives me good things, He blesses me with blessings that are immeasurable, and in Him I find peace, joy, and complete rest. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

This morning, I woke up refreshed. I think the reason I slept so well was because I finished my last assignment for my doctoral course work, and I posted it to Blackboard, yesterday. In short, I am done. I am finished with all my course work, and with the exception of studying for my exams and my dissertation, I am so close to being graduated. I am amazed at what the Lord has done through me, how He has led me through this program, held my hand, inspired me to write papers and to respond to discussion boards, etc. He has promised me good success at Regent, and He has kept His word to me. He has been faithful, IS FAITHFUL, and I have complete confidence that He will see me through to the end, the very end of my studies. 

I am excited for the next chapter of my life, and I can't believe that I am actually thinking of what might be next (as in post-doctoral work), but I am, I really am. Only the Lord knows His need for me to study. Only He knows what I can and cannot accomplish in this life. Only He knows the plans He has for me, and while I am aware of some of those plans, certain aspects and such, the Lord has the entire plan safely within His own per view. Yes, I see just a glimpse of His plan for my life, and what I do see sometimes doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I would like to see the entire picture, the whole plan, but because it is within His timing, His framework, well, I must be patient and allow Him to unfold the details as He determines them, decides on them, and directs them to come to pass. 

Some things I am confident of right now are:
  • My study at Regent has been 100% for His work. While I will benefit from my PhD in that it will look good on my resume, and it will facilitate a full-time professor position, the work I have completed has been for His work, ministry work, kingdom-building and kingdom uniting work.
  • Teaching as a profession has been His will for my life since I was a child. While He didn't expressly forbid me to do other jobs (and I have done a number), I have always had this pull toward teaching, and now, after some 20-30 years, I am employed (finally) as a teacher.
  • My interests in art, architecture, history, religion, literature, music, etc. has been specific to His calling for my life. My desire to read classical literature, to study art, to learn foreign languages, has all been a part of the preparation He had in mind for me as I pursued my education. Cultural appreciation, cultural understanding, and cultural sensitivity is more important now than ever before and the Lord has put this deep desire within my heart to help me prepare and plan for my future career as well as for His work.
  • My need to achieve, to study, to learn, has served me well. While I struggled as a child and teenager in school, I have found great success as an adult learner. I am achieving my dream of a PhD, and I am studying and working as a researcher and scholar (another dream) as I complete my studies at Regent. This deep desire to research and to write scholarship has been in my heart for 20 some years, and now the Lord is using that desire to push me through this program and into what I believe will be His expressed will for ministry.
  • My life, where I am now, and the past (all my experiences) have worked together to bring me to this place. I am living out Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." God has caused all the life-experiences, all the pain, the sorrow, the sadness -- coupled with all the experiences -- to produce training, to prepare me, to grow me into the person He needs me to be. My life has produced fruit through hardship, and now I am using that fruit to sustain my efforts as I continue to move into the deeper mystery of His marvelous will. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!
I am not sure what tomorrow (that future tomorrow) will bring, but one thing is for sure -- the Lord will never leave me to sit idly by. He has His plan, and everything is working out according to it. I can rest in His blessed assurance that what I am doing today, the work I do, I produce, has kingdom ramifications to it. Even if that work doesn't appear to be "ministry-related," it is producing something that God desires in me, and that He intends to use for His work. I am blessed to be a blessing to my students, my family, and those the Lord brings to me each day. I am blessed to bless others, and I love the way the Lord uses me now, and I am excited to see how He will use me in the future, in the coming days, weeks, months and years. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Today, therefore, is another day when I can lift up the Name of the Lord, praise and honor Him for His goodness and mercy, and look up to His steady and reliable provision for my life. Today, I need Him. Today, I want to worship and praise and adore Him. Today I look up because I realize that what the Lord asks of me is something I cannot do on my own, in my own strength or with my own mental or physical fortitude. No, today, the Lord must do this work. Today, He must have all the control, all the authority, all the power so that the tasks assigned to this day are completed to His satisfaction. Yes, today, I surrender all. I give Him my weak and frail mind and body, and I ask that He use them for His glory.

May you be praised this good day, Lord. May you receive all praise and honor this blessed day! Amen! So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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