June 9, 2016

Business As Usual

I cannot believe that it is Thursday. I am happy to be at home. Have I said that yet? LOL! Yes, I know, I oft repeat myself on this blog. Oh well...

I am happy to be at home today. I slept well. I passed another good night, and while I woke up somewhat stiff and sore, I am feeling good today. I feel well. I feel rested. I feel at ease. My prayer today is to continue to "practice" resting. I want to continue to practice, by that I mean, daily application of what it means to rest, biblically-speaking. My goal is to learn how to rest, to be still in the knowledge of the Lord, and to remain obedient and faithful as He leads, guides, and provides for me. This "resting" is a challenge for me. Just this morning, I said to the Lord, "Lord, I have nothing to do today. What am I supposed to do with my day?" I heard His sweet reply say to me, "Rest." Yes, I need to always rest. I know that resting doesn't naturally mean "do no work," but the idea is similar. Resting occurs when we stop moving, stop working, stop striving to reach for or achieve things. It is not giving up completely; rather it is giving up what little control we do have, and trusting that control to someone who is better able, more able, to accomplish the task at hand.

In my case, I am resting from teaching this summer, thanks to the Lord's provision of a summer break. I am resting from my scholarly work, placing my proposal defense on hold for the summer, in order to give my chair and professor the rest He needs to catch up on his workload (which is overwhelming him). I am resting in the care of my parents by letting them take responsibility for what they can each day. I am stopping my incessant desire to control outcomes here at home and that means that I must let things slide. I am resting in the care of my son who is now 22, almost 23, and while I need to be aware of certain things in his life, for the most part, his decisions and choices are under his own control. This means I have to let his choices determine outcomes, even if I don't care for those outcomes. I have to let him grow up, become a man, and trust the Lord for the final outcome (his growth as a child of God). Lastly, my life is at rest. There is little I can do to change my financial situation, my physical situation, or even my emotional situation. I can stress, strive, and try my best for success in all these areas, but I am limited in what I can do. These outcomes are better left to His capable hands, so I relent, I release, and I rest in His provision and care. He is good to me, so very good to me.

Giving Thanks Today

I am giving the Lord thanks today because it is the "right" response. The Word says in 1 Thess. 5:18 NLT,

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 

Likewise, Phil. 4:6 NLT says, 

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." 

And in Hebrews 13:5 NLT we read, 

"Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name." 

Thus, today, is a good day to give praise and thanksgiving to God for the wonderful works He has done through us in Christ Jesus.

In particular today, I am thanking the Lord for His goodness toward me. God is good. All the time, He is good. I blog every day, and almost all my posts end with some similar sentiment. Why is this? It is because over the course of the last ten years or so, the goodness of God has been made known to me. I see His goodness all around me. I feel His goodness as He tenderly and affectionately cares for me. I receive His goodness as He provides for me. His provision meets my needs, it is steady and always available, much like the manna in the wilderness. He is a good Father, a good provider, and I give Him thanks for His marvelous and perfect provision today.

Moreover, I am thankful to the Lord for His constant care of me, and how He never lets me go (no matter what I do or the mistakes I make). I am thankful that He is my gracious parent, my loving Abba Father, who never punishes me for my errors. He corrects me, and yes at times, He disciplines me, but He always does this in love. He looks out for me, and He wants my best always. He encourages me to keep on trying, to do my best always, and then when it is time to rest, to relax, and to enjoy the blessings of life, He reminds me to take a break. He has my best as His top priority.

Lastly, I am thankful that in this life, I am never alone. His presence is with me, and that means that I can go and do whatever He desires without feeling like it is up to me to accomplish everything. I am yoked to my Lord, and as such, I am moving along side of Him, in step, following as He gently leads and guides me. I am never alone. He is with me. He loves me. He shows me the way to go. He teaches me how to do things. I learn from Him, and in doing so, I am able to handle more and more challenging work. He is my Master, and I love the way He chooses to teach me. He is good to me, always so very good to me.

Making My Way

I am no longer making my own way, but rather I am making His way come to pass. I am actively seeking His way in every area of my life. This means that I am choosing "on purpose" to do things God's way. I am anxious to see His way come to pass. I am seeking to be in conformity, in compliance, and with total concentration, hoping to become like Him in my approach to life. I want to speak like He does, minister the way He ministers, and love with His fullness and compassion of heart. Yes, I want to be like Him. As His disciple, my innermost desire is to become like Him so that I am imitating His life. I am doing what pleases the Father (as He pleased the Father), and I am working steadily, daily, with great care and devotion in order to do work that brings heavenly reward (Col. 3:17). My desire, then, is to be conformed to His image. Romans 8:28-30 says it this way,
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified [declared free of the guilt of sin]; and those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity].
My life is about this process, the process of becoming what God predestined me to become. This means that this process is part of God's heavenly plan. I am to become like my Lord in all things, even to the point of death, so that I may be raised to eternal life. I know my outcome. I know what my life will be eventually when I go home to be with the Lord. It gives me great satisfaction and assurance to know that this process is continually at work inside of me. I am cooperating with His precious and mighty Holy Spirit, and as such, He is bearing fruit in my life as I learn how to demonstrate His goodness to the world around me. I am learning how to imitate my Lord day in and day out. I am being transformed through the washing of the Word, and through the ministerial presence of the Holy Spirit of God. Day in, day out. It is a process. It is a journey of daily supplication, of adoration, of praise and of thanksgiving to the One whom I love, whom I worship, and whom I honor. May His Name be praised this good, good day. Selah!
New Thoughts and New Ideas

As I consider my life, I realize that I have two choices. One, I can follow the Lord and allow Him to lead, guide and provide for me. Or two, I can come up with my own plan and attempt to accomplish that plan in my own strength and with my own effort. For many Christians today, the latter is the "norm." Many of my friends do not believe God has a unique plan for their life. They don't see anything wrong with making plans, devising plans, and then working to try and make those plans come to pass. In my case, I feel confident that I am to choose the former, to allow the Lord to call all the shots, and to let Him devise, create, prepare, and carry out the plan for His praise and His honor. I have been working on this assumption now for ten years. I have surrendered to His leadership, and as such, I am following what I believe is His plan for my life. This plan has taken me great places, to places I never thought existed. I have accomplished wonderful goals, and I am about to take on the final goal of my education, my dissertation. It scares me some, and then it also encourages me when I stop and think about all the steps (the classes) I had to pass and challenges I had to overcome to get to this point in the process. Now, I am ready to move on, to finish, and I am waiting for permission to do so. I hate waiting. I really do. Yet, in waiting, sometimes there is hidden or disguised blessing. I think about my steps, these next steps, and I wonder when the Lord will lift the barrier to allow me to move on. I wonder what I must do until that time. I wonder how I will manage things until He provides more for me. I need more time. I need more financial resources. I need a solution to the challenges here at home. I need all of this, but for so long I looked in one direction only. I sought my own hand, my own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP says,
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart, And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].
I have thought about this often, how I typically run to my own understanding of things. I am highly capable, yet when I look to my abilities, I often fail. I can succeed in some ways, but not with the things, the plans and the purposes of God. The only way I will succeed is to know, acknowledge, and recognize His authority over every detail, every decision, and every direction I take. He alone is God. He is worthy of all my praise! Selah!

I struggle at times, though, when I look at my bank account (as I just did when I had to make a payment today), and I see the numbers fall. I want so much to be well-provided for, you know, to have my bank account full to the brim, and yes, even overflowing. I don't want to be poor. I don't want to be strapped for cash. I want to know there is always enough, always an influx of cash. I want to live in peace when it comes to financial freedom. I want to make wise choices, to live rightly, and to enjoy the manifold blessing of His grace in this area of my life. I want this desperately, yet, I know I must wait for it. I must wait for His clear and complete provision over this area. I cannot do this on my own. I must let everything rest. I cannot worry about it. I must let it go, I must relent, and I must allow Him to handle this concern today.

Some thoughts now that I am resting, at the least, I think I am resting in His care this good, good day. First of all, I realize that the job I do is immaterial to His purpose and plan for my life. I know my way. I know that I am a good teacher, and that in teaching, I have some extra blessing (time off). However, I also know that in teaching I struggle to make ends meet. I know that while I love what I do (and I do), I also desire to be promoted, to be in positions where I can actively challenge, change, and create new avenues for success. I long to be in control of things, to do things my way, and to not wait around while others "maybe" make up their mind or even make a decision to move forward. I want so much to be in charge of things, to call the shots, and to take matters into my own hand. Yet, I don't know what I would do or even how I would do that kind of job. It seems that where I am now is where He wants me to be, at the least, for a time. I know what I want. I know what I think is best. But I cannot seem to get from here to there. I cannot make a difference, a change or even consider a change unless He gives me approval, permission, and the desire to do it. Until that time, I wait patiently for His provision. I wait for His approval, and then with His blessing, I will go and do whatever work He calls me to do. I will do whatever job He asks of me. I will do it. I will do it, and He will receive all the praise, the honor, and the adoration for He alone is worthy to receive these things. From my lips, Lord, my you receive all praise.

I cry out with David as he writes this praise in Psalm 63:1-6 AMP,

O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You;
My soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So have gazed upon You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
So will I bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul [my life, my very self] is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises [to You] with joyful lips.

Today, then, I consider this my petition, my prayer. I long to be satisfied with the Lord. As David said, with "deepest longing" I will seek the Lord. I will allow Him to be my satisfaction. He will satisfy me as with "marrow and fatness" (nutritional goodness). My lips with give Him praise. My hands will be lifted high, and I will gaze upon Him in the sanctuary so I may see His power and His glory. O God, you are my God, and I will seek thee -- earnestly.
The Most Difficult Part

The most difficult part is waiting. The most difficult path to follow is the one where you do not see the road before you, but you are called to walk on. I am on a path that seems clear in front of me, yet there is something to be found, to be learned, to be acknowledged that will change my direction forever. I can sense it. I feel it. I want it so badly. I want to be doing the THING He wants me to do, and yet, I feel that I am stuck. I am in this place of His choosing, and while I am here, I know it is a good thing. Still, I feel that it is not the THING He desires me to do long-term. Perhaps this was a temporary measure, only for this season, this time? I think this is so. In fact, I have always believed that my time as a teacher was temporarily assigned to provide for me while I completed my PhD. Of course, I hoped I would find work at the end of the experience. I hoped that after three years of teaching, I would be promoted to a full-time faculty person. I had hoped that I would be able to teach at some school, that I would receive a good salary, and that I would have a good future. Yet, this hasn't come to pass yet. I believe in faith that the Lord can open a door for me. I believe in faith that this is possible. But, there is this strong pull to another avenue. It is like we are walking up a path, and off in the distance, there is another way. I see the path as it cuts across this one, and I see it as an opportunity for me.

O, Lord...what is your will? Where do you intend for me to go, to work, and to serve you?

I believe the plans that the Lord has for my life are solid, sound, and that they will satisfy all my needs. I believe that He has made a way for me. I believe that when I lay down my life, and when I offer up a sacrifice of praise, I receive into my soul and my spirit, a breath, a holy and satisfying breath that renews me, restores me, and rejuvenates me. I want so much to experience life, to live life to the fullest, and to enjoy the blessings He has in mind for me. I want to be set free. I want to go and to do all that He wants me to do. I want to accomplish His work in such a strong way. I cannot stand it. I cannot think of doing any other thing. There is just this one desire. This one desire that says, "Nothing else will satisfy, Lord."

Psalm 37: 3-6 AMP says,
Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light, And your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun].
Verses 4-5 have become my life verse (taken together). Ten years ago, the Lord impressed upon me that if I made Him my delight (as Psalm 63 clearly articulates -- my focus of adoration), the desires of my heart would be granted to me. These desires, of course, would be His desires for my life. I would come to see that in making Him my entire life, my focus, and my worship, my fleshly desires moved from their position as most important to least. Likewise, His spiritual desires moved from a secondary position to their rightful place as all-important. His desires became the primary focus and force in every area of my life. In short, my priorities changed. I became invested in His plan, and in doing so, my decisions, my life choices, everything began to be altered around His marvelous and merciful purpose.

Today, I think about these verses, how the Lord has said we are to "trust in Him." In this way, when we trust in Him, we wait for Him, anticipate that He will do what He has said He would do. We can rely on Him to keep His word to us. We can rely on Him to bring to pass His will in and through our lives. He is good, so very good to me. He is capable of doing far more than I could imagine. What is more, He is able to bring to pass things that I could only imagine, dreams that I could only see in misty and mysterious ways. Yes, He is able to change my darkness into light. He is able to produce manna when nothing existed. He is able. As God, there is nothing He cannot do, no work He cannot perform, no measure He cannot keep. He is good, so very good. He is God, and He alone is worthy to be praised! Selah!

Today, as I close this blog post, I think about all that is possible with God (Luke 1:37). I believe that nothing is impossible for Him. He is able to change my life today. He can make miracles happen. He can make the mountains move. He is able, far more able than I am to direct my steps this good, good day.

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