April 27, 2016

Thinking More and More

It is a good Wednesday, and I am sitting here at my computer "thinking." Yes, I am thinking. What about, you ask? Well, mostly about this day and all the tasks I have to complete. My to-do list is getting shorter, praise God, but I still have some mighty big tasks that need to be completed this week. Mostly, it is my dissertation. I am one step closer to having my proposal completed, but I still struggle with thoughts of inadequacy and incompleteness. I know that the Lord has me well covered, and since this proposal is His idea, I should rest in the knowledge that it will be good, like really good. Yet, I worry. I fret. I doubt. I wonder if I will ever be a scholar in my own right. Or, will I just pass by and move on to other pastures, other hills and valleys in this walk we call “life.” I am not sure, really, I am not. I would like to feel confident that the work I do is valuable, that it contributes to the welfare of others, and that it somehow works out to bring Him praise and honor. At times, I wonder if I am in the wrong place, taking the wrong road, or just standing by the by-way as I watch others pass me by. Where am I going, Lord? Where do you want me to go?

Trusting in Him

I have trust issues. If you are a long-time reader of my blog then you will agree with me. I have issues with trusting God for my well-being, my care, and my provision. I do trust Him, mind you. I just am not always consistent about it. I trust today, but not tomorrow. I trust with a half-heart, and at times, I lack trust completely. Yet, I know He cares for me. Yet, I know that He loves me, cares for me, and that He has a super plan set out for my life.

I would like to have all my little ducks in a row. I would like to be marching forward, straight in line, and see the mile posts pass by, one by one, so I would know I am making steady progress toward my destination, my end goal. But somedays, like today in particular, I just wonder if I am even moving forward. I feel fine today, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t feel like I am making any real progress.

It is funny, but just yesterday, I texted my friend who is in my program with me. She finished her exams last fall, but she is in the same place as I am with the proposal. She and I were commiserating about our lack of progress. It felt good to talk with another peer who is in the same boat as I am. My other friend (part of my study group) shared with me the previous day how she needed some accountability in order to make progress. I guess you could say that we are all in the same place, doing the same kind of work, struggling in the same way. Misery loves company as the saying goes, and even in doctoral research, the sentiment seems to ring true.

I Can Do This or He Can

As I try to make progress, I am reminded that nothing that is completed in my own strength will bring Him praise or honor. I must relinquish all my worldly efforts in order to do this thing — if I want Him to be praised.

My dissertation is really a gift from the Lord. In fact, my entire graduate education has been because of His leading and provision. I wanted to get a PhD, but I never thought it would be possible to accomplish it at this late stage of the game. Yet, the Lord made a way for me, and here I am today, getting ready to graduate. Now, I wonder -- what has all this been for? I mean, what will I have accomplished at the "end of all things?"

I know that my PhD has trained and prepared me for ministry. I am called to pursue ministry in communication where I can help the church understand how to communicate faith more effectively. This is what I know for certain. How I am to do this, well, that is the sticky-wicket. I really don't know. I have ideas, thoughts about it, but nothing solid or confirmatory. I simply feel compelled to do this work. It is like I know this is what I am supposed to do with my life. It is more than teaching or working in business -- it is a job that I must do -- but I don't know when, where or how to do it.

I guess you could say that I am feeling the push toward ministry simply because He is pushing me toward it. You know, He is giving me the grand heave-ho! I want to do this work, too. That I think, is the really great part in all of it. I just want to be about this business, to be involved in communications in this way, and to know that I am doing the thing He has called, prepared, trained, and equipped me to do.

Now as I consider all things, the long and the short of it, I realize that I am in this place for a reason. I tend to think that I am in this place for a "season" too. I mean, I am in this transitional place in my life. I am mid-way between where I once was and where He intends for me to go. I am not at the passing mark yet, but I am close. I am about to take a turn that will move me further into His grand will for my life. I just don't know what that turn looks like or where it will take me or when it will happen. I just know I am about ready to make a turn. It is like when you are on a roller coaster ride and you are soaring up and down and around. It is fun, it is exciting, but you know that a big hill followed by a big drop is right up ahead of you. You know it is there, you feel it, but you are not sure when you will be in that moment. This is how I feel today. I feel like I am about to be lifted sky high right before I experience that rush that comes with the big drop! I know the drop must come soon, because without it, I will not have enough steam to get me through to the end of the ride. I need that final big whoosh so I can pull into the station with gusto! I don't want to limp along and barely finish this race. No, I want to finish strong. I want to finish what He has called me to do with strength.

Can It Really Be This Easy?

Some days I wonder whether doing the Lord's work can really be this easy. I mean, there are times when the work is grueling. There are other times when it is easy as pie. Even despite the difficult challenges, there is this sense of being pushed and pulled through the trials. It is as if a mighty force simply moves me through from one challenge to the next. I do wonder if this is how it is supposed to be or if I am an anomaly of sorts. I mean, I feel like when the chips are down, when everything is stacked against me, this is when I experience His grace and mercy the most. I feel His push as He moves me through the difficulty and right on into the blessed path of peace, of grace, and of finished work.

I want to experience this final push. I need to experience this push now. I am slacking off, losing interest, and generally fading fast. I need to feel His shove of help right now. Lord, please push me, make me go faster, so I can finish sooner! I ask this now because I need you to do this for me. I need you to make this happen, and for you to accomplish this mighty and difficult task for your praise and your honor. I ask that you do this through me -- use me in whatever way you deem necessary -- but please make this finished, completed, and done so I can move on. I need to move on. I am ready to move on. But, I cannot move on without completing all the tasks you have assigned to me. Thus, I ask that you complete these final tasks now so I can rest, really, really rest. I ask this in Jesus' Name because it is only through His power and His authority that your will is to be done. I am ready, Lord. I am ready.

Now to Get to "Doing"

I sit here today "thinking" and not really "doing" what I should be "doing." I know the drill. When you get to the part where all you do is think about the trouble, rather than working to alleviate the trouble, what you have is just a whole lotta nothing! James 1:22 NLT says it this way, "But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." Yes, the Word reminds us that we are to be doers and not just hearers (or thinkers). We are to be active participants in God's grace and in His movement in this world. We are to be His hands and feet, to demonstrate His goodness to the world by reflecting the Light of His Son, Jesus. This means that when the Lord has asked us to do something -- as in a calling or job -- we are to be active about it. We are to take responsibility in the sense of activating our call. This means we must not settle for merely talking about it, but we must be actively pursuing it. We must be moving forward with each task, each assignment, each instruction given. In this way, we demonstrate faithfulness to His call, and obedience to His word.

I am guilty of talking about my calling when I really should have been "doing" it more readily. I realize that I have been in training for a while now, but still, I have known what the Lord asked of me, and I have tarried. I have not obeyed as He has commanded me to do. Now, I see that the delay I have suffered has been the result of my own unwillingness to do the work, to follow after His advice and counsel. I have sought my own way, ferreted out my own ideas and justifications, without really listening and heeding His word to me. Now, I see that I am where I am for a reason, and part of that reason is disobedience and delay. I tarried when I should have moved. I disobeyed when I should have listened to His voice telling me what to do. Is it too late to repent, to turn around, to head to where I need to be this good day? May it never be! God is a God who gives grace and even when we finally realize our error, He is quick to forgive and to restore to us all that He has in mind for us. Remember the story of the prodigal son -- well -- we are all prodigals in one way, shape or form. We all tarry, we all disobey, we all seek our own way -- even those of us -- who have placed our faith and our trust in the Lord. Yes, there are times when we walk in disobedience simply because we are tired of towing the line, tired of following without knowing where we are going, and tired of never having the answers to life's most puzzling questions. We get fed up, we get angry, and most of all, we give in to doubts, to fears, to the big unknown in life.

The Lord is our righteous and victorious strong tower. He is good to us. He loves us, cares for us, and provides for us daily. He is always with us, never leaving us or forsaking us, but always on our side. He is good, so very good to us! Selah!

Resting and Letting Him Do It All

So, I have come to that turn, that point when I am at the precipice of the hill, and I am ready to zoom down and around to my final destination. I am ready to sit back and let Him push me, to bring me to the end, but I have to let Him go, let Him do it. I don't like big drops, but I know I have to go through the dip before I will feel the even pace of the flat track. I have to go now, and whether or not I feel ready, I know His steady hand is on the control. I am trusting Him now. I can let go, and I can let Him lead me home.

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