February 3, 2016

Giving Him Praise

Yes, it is another new day. I woke up this morning to the cold air streaming through my bedroom window. The outside temperature is sitting at 36 degrees this morning, and my bedroom didn't feel any warmer. I am not sure why I am so cold these days, but I think it has to do with my internal thermometer. Women in menopause often report that they have hot and cold flashes, and while my symptoms are not severe, they do bother me to some extent. Especially, the cold flashes. As weird as that may seem, a cold flash feels like you have been dunked in ice water. It starts suddenly and you feel chilled. The exception is that the chilling effect doesn't go away quickly, it only intensifies and with the intensification, you begin to feel as if you have ice water in your veins. It is an awful feeling, and no amount of covering up helps because you are chilled on the inside and not the outside. The hot flashes are similar, but I seem to be able to tolerate them more easily. Right now, I am having a hot flash, and while you would think "hey, that is a good thing! You are getting warm now!" the truth is that they make you feel miserable and often very uncomfortable. Sigh! The unpleasantness of getting old...

Today is Wednesday, and I am now officially down to 7 days before I sit my comprehensive exams. I know I have focused on my exams quite a bit lately, but I cannot help it. These exams are one of the high points of my program -- if I don't pass them -- I do not advance to candidacy, and I will, in effect, not graduate (even after successfully passing all my courses with a 4.0 average). They are a BIG DEAL, and the stress over them is punishing. I am doing my best to keep the stress at bay, trying to not give into it, and trying very hard to stay on top of my work so that I don't feed the stress in any way, shape or form. But lately, as in this last week, I have found it more and more difficult to concentrate and to FEEL settled. I know I am in good shape, well prepared, but still I feel panicked that there is something I have missed, left aside, or looked over. I have to let this go, to let the Lord lead here, but still it is difficult to not worry about something so important in my life. I am worried. Yes, I am worried.

Letting Him Lead

I have school today, teaching and such, and then tomorrow, I have my interview with Regent University. I am excited to interview, but a bit apprehensive about it. I am in the middle of faculty orientation for Ohio Christian University, and frankly, the orientation has been a bit of a deflater for me. I had looked forward to teaching at this school, but I have come to see the job as less than what I had hoped and expected. I guess it is the idea of teaching online that has burst my bubble. I thought I would really enjoy it because I could stay at home, but now I am wondering just what I will be giving up, you know what I mean? There is something about working with students one-on-one, teaching them in person, well, it just makes me happy. I thought online would be the best of both worlds -- I could stay at home -- and yet still teach. Instead, it is more like being an online facilitator, and while I understand the approach and necessity for the role, it just has deflated my spirit some. I am not giving up at all, it is just that I am realigning my expectations to the job, and in doing so, I am getting a better feel for what this type of work entails.

The Lord knows my needs, and He has me so well-covered, but still I wonder if this is the best way for me to go. Yes, I know it is, I know it is. My life is complicated right now, and working from home offers me the opportunity to be more assistance to my parents. Furthermore, just from an economical standpoint, working from home provides me with extra income, and well, let's just say that any extra is a welcome relief. So I know that this is His provision for me, and I know that He knows what is best for me. I am trusting Him to use these open doors for His name and His praise. I am trusting Him to provide for me. He is good, so very good to me.

Thus, today, I woke up thinking about all that I have to do, and I realized "once again," that I cannot do it all, not in my own strength. I confessed this to the Lord, and I acknowledged that what I have to do -- exams, finish my dissertation, graduate, etc. -- is beyond my abilities. I certainly can try in my own strength, but my strength will fail, and in the end, I will fail. No, I confess that I can only do these things in His strength, and with His guide to lead me through each trial and hurdle in my path. I have been tested and tried, and today, I am starting to feel that twinge in the pit of my stomach that reminds me that His way is perfect, is final, and is the only way to produce good fruit. My way, conversely, is fraught with error, with self-sufficiency, and with shortsightedness, and most often, will not succeed simply because I don't have the necessary resources to achieve the goals He has set for me. No, there is no other way to go but His way, and in doing so, He must lead and I must follow. It cannot be the other way around. I must go where He sends me, and I must do the work (as in ministry and teaching jobs) He assigns to me. He is the manager here, and I am just the worker. I don't get to tell the boss what to do, rather He gets to tell me what is best, and I get the privilege to agree with Him.

My heart and my mind feel the pull, the tension between what He is asking me to do and what I think I can do well. I know the difference between what He is able to do and the limits of my own experiences and capabilities, yet I still try to have it my way. Yes, I want to be in the driver's seat, if only, to choose the way to go. I know myself well, and I know that if I take the lead, I will drive us right off the cliff for lack of foresight. He knows what tomorrow will bring, and He knows where He wants me to go, and how He intends to get me from point A (in Phoenix) to point B (His next provision and place of ministry and work). I must let Him drive me there. I must let go, and I must resist trying to grab the steering wheel, especially now, when we are so close to arriving at our next stop.

I want so much to arrive, to get there, you know, to finally be settled, but I know that until we actually arrive, I cannot open that door. It is like when I am driving my Mom to the store. She will always unbuckle her seat belt before the car has been stopped or is in park. I say to her "Mom, you have to stay buckled in until we are stopped," yet she doesn't listen to me. She will still try to get out before we are safely at our destination. I am like my Mom too, especially when it comes to the Lord's leadership. I often want to get myself out of the door early, to get there so I can run in and start whatever is next on my list of life's to-do's. I have to wait until the Lord says, "We are here! You may unbuckle and get out of the car now." Until then, I must be content to wait for Him to get us there in one piece, and to do it in such a way that we are all safe and sound. I trust Him, really I do, but I guess my excitement and anticipation takes over my good judgement, and I behave like a little child looking into the window of the candy store. I so want to go through that door and start shopping! I can barely stand to wait. Yet, I must wait. I must wait.

As I think about today, I marvel at the patience of the Lord. I mean, look at me, I am a nervous wreck, and here He is calm and in control. Yes, I know, He is God, thus He should or would be in control. I know, I just mean that if you look at the two of us, one of us clearly is not like the other! I am thankful that I am who I am and He is who He is because, frankly, my life wouldn't be that grand if I were totally in charge of all the plans and details. I think I would drive myself nuts with all my stress and striving to overcome the tiniest obstacles. Yet, He mysteriously does it for me, and as a result, I am good. I am comforted. I am in this safe and secure place whereby I am able to overcome things that I never thought possible.

So today, I must let this go. I must look to His hand and not my own. I must begin to realize that from this point forward, there is nothing I can do without His authority, His assurance, and His ability in my life. I must do this work, to His Name, and through His power, and for His glory. I cannot focus on what I want or how I think it should be done. I must do it for Him, and for Him alone, and I must let Him lead me through to the very end, the very pinnacle of success, so that He will receive all the praise.

My heart, Lord, is open to your movement this good day. Whatever you decide is best, I accept and acknowledge your provision. I let all the stress go, and I rest securely in your abilities to lead and to guide me. I trust you, and I look up, waiting, watching, and remaining hopeful for your sweet provision this good, good day. Selah!

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