May 12, 2016

Power On

It is a blessed Thursday here in sunny and yes, warm, Phoenix. Our high today is supposed to hit 100, so we can officially declare that May has arrived! May is typically the month when we see our first triple digits. The closer we draw toward June, the more our days resemble one another -- sunny and very hot. I am not looking forward to summer, other than to say that I am not looking forward to the heat of our mid-year. Though, I will admit that there are "parts" of the mid-year that I do enjoy. For example, I like the "chance" of rain, thunderstorms and monsoon that our weather forecasters will post -- even we know that we won't see anything exciting like that -- until late July or early August. Still, the idea that we might get some big storms is worth thinking about, hoping for, wishing it to come to pass. The truth is, that despite the chance of rain, the whole "always sunny" thing does get old after a while. Sigh.

In other news...

I slept pretty well last night. I didn't get a full 9 hours of sleep, but rather I slept fitfully for the first 6, tossing and turning, until I put an extra pillow under my head around 4 a.m. Then I slept like a rock until 8:30 this morning. I guess I need the extra pillow to help me sleep deeply. Note to self: put two pillows under your head tonight! Check!

I woke up feeling rather listless, sort of like "why care about anything?" I mean, I spent my early morning reading my phone (news and such), and it always disturbs me. First of all, I am shocked at the number of murders, suicides, and general malice I see in my local community. The local news is filled with reports of people dying -- like shot with guns, stabbed with knives, or hit by cars -- every single night. Second, when I turn to the national news, I read the current political wrangling, and I simply feel downcast. Third, I find it difficult these days to even read Facebook anymore. I mean, I use Facebook to stay connected with my family and friends, but the things that are posted are meaningless, absolutely meaningless (Eccl. 1:2). I see posts that run the gamut from spiritual encouragement to memes that are supposed to be funny, but are not. I see pictures of animals (lots of them), and then I see the typical family vacation (look at all the fun we are having) shots. What's more is that I see the superficiality of the posts -- on weight loss, fitness or even romance -- and I want to shout out that people are dying all around us. I feel like the prophets of the Old Testament who look around them and cried out to God, "Woe is me, woe is me!"

This morning, as I prepared to write this blog post, Isaiah 40:28-31 came to mind:

The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.
Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.

I cannot help but hear Lincoln Brewsters' song, "Everlasting God" right now. I cannot help but hear the his son's voice recite these verses at the very end. May the power of God been seen today in our dying world! Selah!

My heart simply struggles with what I see around me. I can sense the doom. I can feel that it is coming on us very soon. It is not just our current political climate, but it is everything -- the moral and spiritual decay -- the threats from both sides (Christian and non), and the fact that what is happening to this world seems to be happening without much control. It is as if we are spiraling out of control due to some unrelenting force. Of course, we know the source of the chaos. We know what is to come, but still the pain, the sorrow, the suffering, it is all too much for me some days. I just cannot stand what I see. I just cannot stand to see the hatred and the hurt being inflicted on God's peoples, but also by God's people. It must stop. It must stop now.

I've gotten to the point where I don't want to see these things anymore. I want to stay inside and not turn the TV on, the radio, or even look at my phone. The news is distressing me, and I find that my countenance loses its ability to stay hopeful. I know what I need to do. I know that I must look up, to wait for the Lord, to remember that the Lord is the One who will see us (all of us) through to the end. He is coming again soon. He is coming again very, very soon. Praise be to God, He is coming again!

Now I must rest. I must remember that while this world appears out of control, our LORD sits on Heaven's throne, and He is waiting and He is patiently enduring what must first come to pass. There is no fear in heaven. There is no impatience on His part. He knows that these things must happen as they were predicted to happen many thousands of years ago. His timing is perfect. His way is above all ways. And, in the end, His will, will be done. Selah (Pause, and calmly think about that!)

The Power of God

As I think about my day today, I realize that the only way I will accomplish any work in His name is to allow God to have the glory by letting Him do the work through me.  I wish I could explain why I am struggling so much with this proposal. I mean, I've written proposals before, but this one is kicking my backside something fierce. I have tried to let it go, lay it down, trust the Lord for the inspiration and transcription, but I still cannot do it. I have spent the past couple weeks writing bits and pieces, and so far I have about 22 pages of jumbled mess. I know that the work, this part of my dissertation is the most difficult to write. I know this -- I've read articles about how important the literature review is to the successful defense of the study. I know what is on the line, but still I struggle to make progress. I feel the hard pressing hand of the enemy against me. He doesn't want me to succeed at all because he knows that this project is what keeps me from finishing my PhD. Without my PhD, I cannot do the Lord's intended work. He knows how important this is to finish, and therefore, he is doing what he can to distract me from my work.

I know that what I am trying to do is very difficult as well. I don't understand my own research. I don't understand why I cannot figure this out, why I cannot articulate what it is that I plan to study. I try, I utter some statements, but the research itself is not clear. I need help, lots of help. I feel so alone right now, struggling to make sense, and finding that I lack the words and the ability to convey meaning to my audience.

Will my professors buy what I want to study? Will they think it is valuable? A good contribution to literature? I don't know. I hope so. I have to press on. I have to turn on His power, and let Him power on through this nightmare, this dense and difficult section of my project.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~ Ephesians 3:20 NLT

I give all the praise to the Lord, Most High. I give Him all authority, power, and dominion over this project, this research, this study. May it please the Lord this good day to have His way so that His will is perfected and brought to completion at the end of this long road, this long journey toward completion of my PhD program.

Giving God all the Glory

So today, I am determined to give Him the praise, the honor, and the glory in every aspect of my project. I cannot do it, I cannot write anything of value so I am laying my hand aside and saying to Him, "You take it, Lord. It is your work, therefore, you do whatever you want with it." I am giving Him all the glory this good day because I am tired, and I am losing hope. I am feeling the pang of hard work, and while I rarely shirk back when it comes to working hard, this task is impossible for me to complete. I simply cannot do it. I cannot do what I am being asked to do. So, I look to the One who can do it, and I rest in His abilities and sufficiency. I can do no good thing, other than to recognize where the power comes from, and then allow that power to have its intended end.

O Lord, I give you all praise, all honor, and all glory this good day. I ask that you accomplish whatever you determine best this good day. I give into the temptation of control, and I let you drive this project through based on your timeline, your needs, and your abilities. I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me. I can do nothing in and of myself, so I let this go. I let this go.

Amen, Lord Jesus. Come and do this work in me and through me in order to bring you the highest praise this good, good day!

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