May 24, 2016

Today is GREAT!

Well, it is Tuesday, and I am home and enjoying this good day. Yes, it is summer vacation, and I am thankful to have these days "off." I don't have anything to do -- nothing -- and that is such a weird feeling right now. I mean, the past couple summers, I have been in classes so I had reading, discussion board posts, or papers to write. Now, I am sitting here thinking "what will I do today?"

God is good, of course. He has given me something to do today. In fact, I have an online chat session scheduled for prospective doctoral students at Regent University. I volunteered to help out, since one of my professors had to step aside due to another time commitment. I am not sure what I will contribute, but I will give it a go, nonetheless.

I also have been asked to interview for a PR story at my school (COM Arts). It is weird to see how God is using me. I am happy to do it, though I feel a little apprehensive about sharing my feedback/story with the department. Truthfully, my story is not that exciting, so I am not sure what to say about it. I am praying for the Lord to lead me, provide words to say, etc., so that I don't have to share too much information. You just never know...I mean...how the Lord intends to use my story. I pray He is honored, and I pray that He keeps me hidden. I know that is weird because I have this "love/hate" relationship with the spotlight. I like to receive acknowledgement for my achievement, but I don't like to be in the light. I like to be hidden, to be back behind other people. Yet, then there are times when I do get jealous or envious of the attraction other people seem to have. I mean, it is not like I want to be a celebrity or anything. But, then sometimes I feel so undervalued. It is a mean cycle, one that gets the best of me at times. I surrender it all to Him because I don't want my pride to get the best of me (and it easily can and does!)

Now that I am officially A.B.D., and I am waiting for feedback on my proposal, I am thinking of all the things I get to do with my life. I mean, the majority of my schooling is behind me now. I am finished with my courses, and I am working on my research. I have a paper accepted to a journal (pending revisions), and I am planning my fall semester of classes. It is as if the rest has arrived. I mean, REST, as in resting finally, stopping to sit a spell and enjoy the blessed rest. God has been moving me into these positions, challenging me, giving me growth opportunities, and now I am standing around -- waiting -- for the next train to arrive. I need to finish my research project, graduate with my PhD, for sure; but also, I need to enjoy the blessed days of "nothingness" because they are His gift to me. I look to His hand of blessing, to His gift of rest, and I say, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you for providing a good long summer of rest for me." He knows I have worked hard, struggled, striven, and now I am at this place where I can settle down, just relax and let it all wash over me. I can rest. I can relax. I can "chill out." Yes, I can enjoy this time, realize that He has provided it for me, and simply let whatever is to come next, come to me. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Today, I realized this fact when I was talking on the phone with a dear sweet gal at Regent University. I was sharing my story, in brief, and getting "prepped" to participate in the online information session for prospective students. I thought, "This was me just three years ago." And now, I am finished (well, almost). My life is my own again, it is all mine, and I am free to go and do and see whatever God desires of me to go, do and see. Yes, my life has just received the rush of His Godly Breath, and I have been renewed, reinvigorated, and refreshed to think about next steps. What do we do next, Lord?

As I think about my next steps, my mind shifts away from school work, teaching, and even the day-to-day business of living to His plans, His marvelous and merciful plans. What do you want me to do next, Lord? What do you have in mind for me? Where do you want me to go? The Lord has a great plan for my life. He knows me well, knows what I can and cannot do, and He has several things He intends for me to do to accomplish His work. Yet, for now, I am to rest. I am to let this go, and just enjoy the days He has given to me. I know that He will care for my needs -- all of them -- and He will open doors that were formerly shut. He will make a way for me to go, and this good day, He has a plan for me to follow. May I follow where He leads. May I go where He directs me to go. May I do what He asks me to do, and in all these things, may His name be praised forever more. Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

Moving On

So I am moving on. I am getting ready to move on and I am unsure where He intends for me to go next. Perhaps it will be to physically move across state lines. Perhaps it will be to begin to think about a new job, a full-time faculty position online. Perhaps it will simply be to consider His perfect will in regard to ministry opportunities. I just don't know. What I do know, though, is that His will is perfect, and by that I mean, that whatever the Lord determines is good for me, it will be blessed. It will be good. It will bring about good results. I don't have to "do" anything in His name. I don't have to try to do what I think He wants me to do. No, I just let Him do it. I rest in the knowledge and in the fact that He is far better able to accomplish His will than I am. He is really, really capable. I can just let Him use me in whatever way He desires, and then He will do it. He will make it happen.

I started to think about being promoted, you know, being lifted up, and at first my response was "No, thank you, Lord. I don't want to be in the spotlight." Then, I started to think about it some more. I started to think that perhaps the Lord wanted that spotlight, and because I am unwilling to be made the focus, I am keeping His light from shining into the places where He wants it to shine.  I started to think how my flesh yearns for approval, for priority at times, and while I don't want to become prideful or arrogant, I also don't want to practice false humility. I am flawed. I am often foolish. He knows this about me. He still uses me, despite my oddities and personality quirks. Just now, I thought to myself, "What if the Lord needs me to be in a position where I get some attention? Will I hide my light under a bushel just to avoid the glare from others looking at me?" May it never be. No, I will not do that, even if it is uncomfortable or unpleasant. I will trust Him. I will believe that if this is what He wants, then I have to let Him use me -- however -- He desires to use me.

The other day, I was praying about ministry and such, and I remember saying to the Lord how I wanted to be used like Joyce Meyer or Kay Arthur. Not that I wanted an international ministry or to be the spokesperson for such a ministry, just that I want to be like these great ladies who preach and teach the Word with such conviction, such complete authority. I want to be able to be like them -- bold, fearless, and unwilling to say no to the naysayers. I want to be strong, be active in ministry, and be able to communicate my faith with such unswerving faithfulness. Then I thought, "Oh, but I don't want to be lifted up like they are, open to scrutiny and criticism, always being in the spotlight." I realized that I cannot have it both ways. I cannot be in the spotlight and not in the spotlight. It doesn't work that way. You either are or you are not. There is not in between ground.

Just now, I thought about Christine Caine, whom I like a lot, and how God has transformed her ministry over the past couple years. She travels all over the world, speaking, teaching, preaching to women and men in conferences, and how she is this little bitty person, such a little person, yet with such a great heart for missions, ministry, and the Word. I thought, "I could never be like her, Lord. I don't want that much attention, always being "on," and always being watched by thousands of people. I am too messed up. I make too many mistakes. I say too many stupid things. No, I am better off in the background, just keeping busy for the Lord.

It was like this flash of a camera went off in my mind. I thought just for an instance, that perhaps this is what the Lord desires from me. Not that He has a mind to move me into such a high profile place, but that He may desire to use me in a way that does impact the lives of many people. The Lord may desire that I be willing to be used to shine His light into very dark places, and if this is His will, then I have to do it. I have to let Him do it. I cannot keep Him hidden. I cannot do this, not to my Lord, who has done so much for me already, and who has such an amazing plan for my life right now.

Yes, Lord. You may use me in anyway you desire. You may take me to the pinnacle of success, to the top of the mountain or you may keep me down low in the valley. Whatever you desire from me, I will gladly give to you. I will go and do this work. I will speak, teach, and preach the Word as you lead me. I will stand in the fullness of the scrutiny and the harshness of the bright light, and I will let you lead. You desire it, so be it. Who am I to stand in your way?

Lord, Lead Me On

It is weird to say this, but I have this sense that this is what He intends to do with my life. I am not saying that I am going to be famous or anything of the sort. Rather, it is just that He intends to use me, and He intends to do it in ways that will make me feel uncomfortable. This is why I have to rest. I have to stop striving or trying to make His will come to pass. I have to let it come to pass. I have to let Him lead. I cannot force His hand or even attempt to cobble together something pleasing to Him. I have to let go, let Him lead, and let Him BE the center of all the attention. I can do this. I can do it. I just realized that if I allow Him to be the center of attention, I can HIDE behind Him. I can stand in His shadow, in His reflection. People will not be looking at me, but they will be looking at Him. I will be overshadowed by His mighty presence, and I am OKAY with that fact. Have at it, Lord. You be the lead. You be in the limelight. I will stand behind you and let you have all the glory. I have no issue with you taking everything on because I trust that you will handle it. You will protect me, and you will keep me safe. You will make me enjoy life, rest in your blessing, all the while I am working hard to see your plans come to pass. I am okay with this idea, Lord. I am okay with it.

Now, that I realize that He is in control, that He is the One who is making the plans, I can let go of my future. I don't need to know what tomorrow will be because I know the One who has all this figured out. I can trust Him. I can rest in Him. I can let Him lead and guide me. It will be good. It will be marvelously good.

Dear Lord,

I have been wondering about this fact for such a long time. Why, I mean, why I desire the spotlight, but then I do not want to be in it. Why must I go and be the light that shines in these places? Why must I be the one who will be the focus of some attention and scrutiny? Then the truth dawned on me this morning, and I realized that I simply need to let you go and do these things. You use me, and I am used -- for whatever purposes -- you desire. It is okay. I am good with it. I am willing to be used to let you have your way, to accomplish your purposes, and to make your will come to pass. I ask now, Lord, that you will promote, move me, establish me, and create in me whatever changes you need in order for me to do this work, this special work. I rest in the process. I let you do this work. I simply agree with you that it must-needs be done. I agree with you that you have determined that I am the one to go and to do it. May your will be done this day in my life. May your work be brought to completion. And, may you be praised and honor in every word, every thought, and every deed to Jesus' glorious and mighty Name, Amen.

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