January 16, 2016

Ready and Willing

Today is a beautiful, but chilly day in Phoenix. It is sunny with blue skies, but the air has a stiff chill to it. It reminds me that even in the desert Southwest we have a "winter" season. Yes, even in the mild southern part of the nation, we have a winter season of rest.

As I think about rest, and what it means, I cannot help but thank the Lord for providing these times of year when everything goes to ground, takes a hiatus, and rests from producing work. Of course, for college teachers, our rest period is over the summer, but still, the idea of a middle year rest is nice. It reminds us that God knows how much we need to slow down and simply sit some, rest some. Today is a good day for rest, to remember to rest, and to remember that our work is to be punctuated with periods of rest. Selah!

The Lord is so good to me, really, I mean it. I felt so horrible yesterday, absolutely beat, and by the time I got home from work, I was worn out, plumb worn out (as they say). My three-hours of teaching (closer to 4) took a toll on me, and after driving home from school, the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone. I knew it, I was worn out, and my voice and my head were at the point of exploding, just from sheer exhaustion. I had school work to do last night, studying and reading, but the thought of doing that was too much for me, so in the end, I rested a little while (down time) before turning in for the night. I don't remember even turning in because I fell asleep in my clothes. I woke up around 2 a.m. and got myself undressed and ready for bed. When I finally awoke this morning, it was close to 9:00 a.m. By all calculations, I slept a good 12 hours. The good news is of course that I feel absolutely refreshed, awake, and ready to tackle the days to-do list. Mostly this means that I feel ready to make good progress with my studying and reading, and that I feel good about what I am doing to prepare for my exams. I have four weeks to go, and right now, I feel very confident that I am on track to be "ready" come exam time. God is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Yesterday, I had written on my blog how I felt confused, and that I needed some clarification on what was going on in my life. Today, it seems that everyone is back on track. I am not sure what changed between then and now, but I would say it was probably more that I acknowledged my error, something I didn't do when I was asked to do, and in making up that small step, those nagging feelings of doubt and insecurity faded away. At the least, I feel that this is the case. At least, I feel that I am back to business and will be making good, steady progress again today. God is good, so very, very good to me! Amen!

Yes, I feel ready today, really ready, and by that I mean that I feel as if a burden has been lifted off my shoulders and with that feeling, I feel as if I am prepared to tackle whatever may come my way. I am in such a good place right now. I have several good options for my work, one that is already in process, and another that is in the review phase. This means that shortly, hopefully very soon, I will have new work opportunities that will give me the chance to move freely about the country. Yes, my prayer for work that is not tied to a physical location seems to be coming to pass. I am excited by this possibility because it means that I could potentially move anywhere in the USA so long as the employer or employers (if more than one) allow me to work from home.  Right now, my prayer is to find a full-time work from home position that would allow me to teach college but not have to live within proximity to the school. These types of positions still exist, so I am praying that one of the schools I have applied to will want to hire me. I am also considering other types of work that might allow me to work from home, but for now, I believe that the Lord intends for me to teach college English and work in full-time ministry (or start to work in full-time ministry). I know He has this completely figured out so I don't have to worry about it. I am ready, that is all, ready to go and do this work as soon as He provides the means for me to do it. Praise God, He is good! Selah!

Finding the Way through the Wilderness

I feel like I am finally exiting the wilderness that has been my life for the past five-six years. In truth, I feel like I am finally feeling good again, free and able to do good practical work. It has been a very long, and very dry period in my life, and while I have been thankful for the opportunities to return to school, to study, and to learn new things, I am ready now for that long blessed and promised rest. I am ready to begin His work, His ministry work, and to do the very thing He has called me to do.

Just yesterday as I prayed, I was reminded that often the Lord calls people to do difficult work. In preparing them to do this difficult work, there is a period of time in the wilderness, so to speak. It is a time of testing, of trial, and of learning how to lean on and depend on the Lord. I have spent the past number of years in this place, trying to learn how to depend on the Lord for my very existence. While it has not been easy, it hasn't been terrible either. It has been more "trying" than anything else. I would liken it to learning a craft or some skill. The time is dedicated to learning the craft and while you would like to become an expert in the shortest amount of time possible, the truth is that you will be a beginner and then an apprentice and maybe skilled after many, many years of practice.

This is how I feel. I feel like I have spent the past five years learning how to tie my shoes, the Lord's way, I mean. I feel like He said to me, "Okay, let's start at the very beginning," and then we learned how to do everything all over, everything His way, and that process of relearning was very hard for me. I wanted to do it my way or the way I had been taught, but He said, "No, you must do it my way." Much of that time was spent learning to yield, to give way, and to accept that His way was better. In and through the learning experience, I have come to recognize His way in many things. I have come to see the benefit of doing it precisely as He says. In this way, I have found the path easy to walk on, the way smoother, and obviously, the outcome successful. Yes, I have learned what it means to be yoked to the Lord, and I have come to understand that being yoked to Him means that you will walk as He walks, you will go His way, and you will listen to and obey His voice. Selah!

The Lord is good, He is very, very good. In this truth comes peace. If you realize, recognize and accept that He is good, and that His nature (His very essence) is good, then you will see that all the things He asks you to do, well they are good too. I know, I know. You are saying, "But what about this illness or this hardship? How can this be for my good?" Yes, there are explainable circumstances that the Lord chooses at times to place us in. You may be experiencing illness, poverty, or severe loss. You may be racking your brain to understand why the Lord has allowed you to experience such hardship. All I can say is that there are times when the Lord does choose to use people as an example to others. I think about Job, and how Job was used as an instrument of teaching for the people of God. We see Job's faithfulness under incredible circumstances, and we see his reliance upon God no matter what hardship he endured. Sometimes this is what God chooses to do. My prayer and my hope is that if this is where you are right now, you will take courage to know that God has a plan for your life, and that whatever that plan may be, He is working all things together for your good (Rom. 8:28).

Turning Around, Yielding, and Seeing Fruit

Today is a day marked by happiness and hopefulness. I feel that the fruit of my labors are coming to bear and soon, yes very soon, I will begin to experience their good pleasure. My hope today is to stay fixed and focused on His way, and to remember always that as long as I am yielding to Him, He will continue to move me closer and closer toward the fulfillment of His blessed will for my life. I cannot do anything without submitting to Him, and I cannot go where He is called me to go without placing 100% of my trust, my reliance, and my hope in His hand. He alone will provide for me, of this I know. I see now that there is nothing I will ever produce that will accomplish His will for me. I will never earn the money I need to do His work. I will never create anything that by my own hand brings Him pleasure. I will never ever be able to do this thing He asks of me in any way if it is based on my skills, abilities, or mental faculties. No, this is His work, and for me to do it, I must do it His way. He will provide, He will make it possible, and He will show me every step, every task, and every approach necessary to be successful in it. I am confident of this because I made the decision that all my work would honor Him, that everything I would do would bring Him praise. In this way, all my efforts in studying, in learning, in growing, in teaching, and in ministry -- they all are predicated on one result -- and that is for God to receive the Glory alone. I want nothing else but for Him to be glorified. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

Seeing His Goodness

Just the other day I found myself wandering around campus when I thought to myself, "this is where I belong, on campus, teaching students." It was an epiphany of sorts because I have been second-guessing myself, my teaching, and my profession change for some time. But, as I walked between classes, I realized that I love working at a college. I can remember how I felt when I was an undergraduate at San Jose State University. I remember thinking to myself, "I would love to work at a college or university." I have held that thought in my head for nearly 30 years, and here I am now, at age 53, working on a college campus. The Lord has provided the best possible job for me, the best, and while it is not the most "lucrative" in pay, it is the most satisfying in experience (for sure). Yes, the Lord has provided me with the best possible career, the best fit for my life, and while there are negatives to this job (mostly my sore feet and tired voice), I love what I am doing. I love working with my students, teaching them how to write persuasively, and spending time with them, just listening, encouraging them, and helping to build their confidence so that they can experience God's goodness in their lives. I love my job! I love what I am doing today, and I cannot imagine doing anything different for the rest of my working professional life. Amen, it is done, so be it! Selah!

God has shown me the fruit of my efforts. He has made this wonderful way come to pass, and while the process of learning how to teach has been difficult for me, what I have come to learn is that it hasn't been impossible. Yes, the Word says to us, "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1:37). This means that no matter what the Lord intends for me to do, He will do it. He will do His will and He will do it in His way for certain. I am yielded, submitted, and ready to do this mighty work, but only when He says it is time to begin. Until then, I remain fixed on what He has for me to do today. I will accomplish the tasks that are apportioned for today. I will remain hopeful for the future plans, but I will not lose sight of what must be done this good, good day. Amen! So be it, thy will be done!

As I think about all of this today, one thing comes to my mind, and that is, how good God is to take me or lead me by the hand through my days and weeks and months. You see, I would have been overwhelmed had I walked this path alone. No, my Lord has seen to it that we walked this road together, and in doing so, I have come to experience His goodness and His provision along the way. He has made sure that I was always cared for and in doing so, I have learned to lean on Him instead of my own hands or on someone else. In fact, I would say that I have come to see the Lord has my sole (soul) provider alone. This means that I will never look to another human to provide anything to me. I will only look to His hand, to expect His provision to meet each need, rather than rely on or expect someone else to provide for me. I want to be 100% responsible for everything I do, and I want to show Him that I can be responsible. I want to manage my finances well. I want to manage my health well. I want to live a good, God-honoring life, well. And, in the end, I want to hear Him say to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Yes, Lord, may it be so, may it be so.

I spent some 30 years depending on another person for my daily needs, and while my ex-husband did try hard to provide (at times), he failed to meet the minimum requirements of the family. He didn't want to provide for us as a rule, but rather he wanted to provide for himself. His approach was always to seek provision through his own hands or through some scheme. He never looked to the Lord as His provider, and he never surrendered his way to the Lord so that the Lord could show him how to take care of his family. Instead, he made money and spent money on the things that made him feel good. Our needs were always secondary, our needs were always met last.

Now that I have been single for nearly five years, what I want is to remain faithful to the One who has provided to me, who has met all my needs with sufficiency, and who is able to provide for my future security. I look to the Lord alone and He has met my needs at every check and turn of the way. My plan now is to remain in this position, to never yield to anyone again, and to let the Lord direct my steps so that I never ever get into a situation like the one I lived in. I don't mean to say that I intend to remain single or that I wouldn't welcome a companion in this life, but what I do mean is that I will never ever be reliant on another person to meet my needs. I will never look to anyone else but the Lord to fulfill my emotional, spiritual, material and other needs. Why? Well, for a couple reasons. First off, by doing so, this places undue hardship upon another individual who may be struggling to keep their own head above water or who may lack the resources to be able to provide the kind of life I am used to living (now under the Lord's leading). Second, it places this person in a position of authority over me, and I do not believe that anyone has that authority save the Lord. And, third, I do not wish to rely on someone for my needs when I am absolutely capable, and maybe even more capable then they are to meet those needs.

What Does This Mean for Me 

Well, I believe what I am trying to say (albeit rather bluntly) is that I am determined to live a life wholly devoted and focused on the Lord and His will alone. I have no other dreams, desires or imaginations other than to do His work. I don't care where I live (as in city or town). I don't care what type of practical work I do (as in teaching or another job). I only care that the work I do (as in ministry) is the work He has called me to do. There is no other desire in my heart than to do His work, and I will sacrifice whatever I must sacrifice to do it. This means that I will go where He sends me -- if it it seems unlikely. I will do the work He calls me to do -- even if it seems improbable or impossible. And, I will live in the way He has called me and provided for me -- even if it appears unsustainable. Yes, I will trust that what He is asking me to do is far greater than anything I could imagine doing. I will go where He sends me, live where He says to live, and do the work He has purposed and planned for me to do. Selah!

Dear Lord,

Today I turn around and follow you. I do exactly what you ask me to do, and I realize that what you may be asking me to do, well, it might seem odd or unusual. But, I believe that you have this plan, and it is a mighty good plan, and thus because I have come to trust you, then I know I can rely on you to bring it to pass. I ask that you make this way smooth, clear all hurdles and obstacles, and make my feet sure as they walk in this way. Be glorified, Lord, in every area of my life, and bring to pass your will, your way, for your Name and praise and honor. I ask all this in the mighty, merciful, and majestic Name of Jesus, Amen! So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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