July 12, 2016

Making Plans and Preparing to Go

It is Tuesday, and I am sitting at my computer thinking about my next steps. I found out yesterday that my class at ACU may be cancelled due to low enrollment. I am not upset about it because I would prefer to teach this course to a full class. It will be very difficult to teach this class with 5 enrolled students. The problem is, of course, that if I lose this class I will be left short when it comes to income for the fall. My prayer is that I will receive some refund money to help me out, but even with my refund, my income will be lower than needed. Right now, I am trusting the Lord to provide. He is able to produce work for me, of this I know. I simply must rest and let Him do this work.

I woke up this morning thinking that my life was in good shape only to be overcome by panic at the thought that in less than a week I will begin teaching my first online class. Second, the thought that school will begin in four weeks simply threw me for a curve. I haven't finished my proposal, and I have no way of purchasing a car for my son (in time for school). I thought to myself, "this cannot be happening to me right now," I mean, I am at the brink of financial ruin, and I don't have any way to "solve this problem." So after I listened to the fearful thoughts start to grow, I decided to get up and place my faith in the Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. He is able to handle this mess. He is able to make sense of it all. So I moved on...


Making Plans

Now, I am here thinking to myself, "Lord, how will YOU fix my problem?" I am ready to do what He asks of me, but I am not sure how to do it. As I sit here today, I am reflecting on some interesting events have come to pass in the last day or so. I am trying to put these events together, hoping that they will make sense to me, so that I can get an idea of what the Lord has in mind for me. So far, I am confused. Let me explain...

1. Job Confirmation

It was about three weeks ago when the Lord pressed on me to put a note on my calendar for July 11, 2016 with the words "JOB CONFIRMATION." I did it, of course, and I thought it would be confirmation on the position at UHC. The job at UHC came and went with a big thud, so at first I thought that the note was simply a confirmation of that door being closed. After all, I had already found out the week before that I was not selected for the position. Still, I wondered if perhaps the Lord would open another door for me, and that I would receive some confirmation to that effect. Monday was "job confirmation" day, and with no other jobs in play, I figured that the confirmation was about UHC and nothing else.

Now, though, I am wondering if that is not really the case at all. You see, earlier yesterday, while I was checking my email, I received correspondence from Auburn University. I had applied for a teaching position back in March, but never heard anything back on it. According to the department chair, they had some vacancies open up recently and were still looking for candidates to fill several jobs by the start of the fall school year. The position was to begin 8/16, so in one month. The job was for one year only, renewable for up to five. The pay was $36K, which is very low, but for 9-months work, it is about $4000 per month before taxes. I was happy to be noticed for my application, for certain, but the with the short notice and the expense of moving and living in this area, I simply couldn't consider it at this time. I declined the offer, knowing that while I am blessed to be asked whether I wanted to be considered for this role, I realize that the only job that will work for me is an online one. The whole moving across country requires a lot of effort. I cannot just up and move in four weeks time. My parents and my son need consideration, so that means I have to plan this move to factor in their needs. In many ways, this email did serve as a confirmation for me, to show me really, that I was still being considered for teaching positions.

After reading the email and thinking more about it, I was feeling a bit down about my whole situation again. Will I ever find a teaching job? Will there ever be an end to this stress? Just when I was feeling as down as possible, the Lord pressed on me to yet again apply for some teaching positions. Initially, I was unhappy to even look. I mean, I spent some time on SimplyHired and saw nothing. Then, I spent some time looking at HigherEdJobs.com without any success. There are no full-time positions in AZ, and what is more, even when I consider other jobs in states where the Lord may choose to move me, there are no online teaching positions there either. My heart just sunk. I mean, what am I to do? I feel that this is the Lord's provision, but there is nothing posted. How long must I wait for your promised provision, Lord?

I was about to give up when the Lord directed me to check out ASU again. ASU is our big local state university. I have applied there oodles of times over the past ten years. I have only been called for a job once, and then I declined the offer to interview simply because I had taken another position. I've applied for many admin positions, but no faculty jobs because I didn't want to A) work at this public university and B) drive to Tempe (which is about 45 minutes away). However, last May, I applied for an online teaching position at the downtown campus. As with all my other applications, I never heard anything back so figured the position wasn't the Lord's will. Today, though, I looked to see if they had other openings that might work for me. I noticed that the job I applied for is still open as are a couple other English positions. The Lord pressed on me to apply again, so I did. I applied for three positions in total, all teaching online. I have most of the required qualifications, but it will be up to the Lord to open a door for me. These positions are full-time, non-tenure faculty. They do come with benefits, but the main thing is that they are online. This would be a good thing for me.

2. Patiently Waiting

Now, I sit here today and I am trying very hard not to panic over my situation. With the potential of my class being cancelled, and the low enrollment, well, I am thinking I may be really in dire straits soon. The positive of teaching online would be that I could put off purchasing a car for my son. I could let him use my car as needed, since I would be working from home. It seems like a win-win scenario, but I have to have a school consider me. I have to have someone give me the opportunity to do this type of work. In truth, I need this to happen. I need the Lord to open this door, and I need Him to show up in a mighty way. I need Him to go before me, to lead me to a job, and then make it happen. Right now, I need Him to do this work. I cannot even think about doing it. I need Him to do what He does best.

As I patiently wait, I think about my situation and while it is not as dire as I make it out to be, I do realize that what is needed now is some hope. I need some small kernel of hope to remind me that He is in control of my life -- every aspect of my life. I need to feel confident that something is going to come to me very soon. I am hesitant to teach full-time, but I know I can handle teaching 4 classes, especially if they are online. My desire now is to secure a position (not as if I can do that, just saying it this way) where I can be settled. In many ways, teaching full-time online would alleviate a major concern about finishing my PhD. I need to finish my dissertation, and having all my classes online would be a benefit to me. Plus, just knowing that for 9-months I had income (the same amount) would be such a welcomed relief. It would be good, you know, really good.

3. Preparing to Go

So then, how does one prepare to go when there appears to be no way to do it? Good question. I don't know, other than to say that the Lord must open the door, make this opportunity come to pass, and then show me exactly what to do. I cannot do it, I have no knowledge of even how to do it. Thus, I am 100% reliant on Him for His expertise and abilities. He can do it, most assuredly. I cannot.

I was thinking about this yesterday, how all my efforts thus far to find a job have been thwarted. I figured that the Lord didn't want me to work full-time now because of my dissertation. Yet, there is this part of me that recalls Him saying to me that I would work full-time beginning in fall, 2016. How can I work full-time and not work full-time? I assumed that it meant I would do what I have always done which is teach at multiple schools. I am tired, you know, really tired. I don't even feel like teaching anymore. I know that it is because I am stressed, worried about how to make ends meet, and worried about the fall and my looming needs. But, then I know that there is no other job for me. This is it. I can either REST in His abilities and His timing or I can continue to panic, stress, and strive to make something happen that is not possible.

My desire is to do as He pleases, yet I am unsure what is His good pleasure right now. I know I must be obedient. I must adhere to His word. I must listen to the Lord. If He is to guide me, lead me, and provide for me, I have to be willing to listen to His voice and then follow His voice. I must lean on, abide in, and rest in His sufficiency completely. I can no longer follow my own understanding. I must only follow His wisdom and seek His knowledge for the solution to this problem.


Seeking Wisdom and Knowledge is Key

James 1:5 (KJV) says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him." I am in need of wisdom. I am in need of truth. I am in need of His guidance this good day. What shall I do, Lord? How then shall I go if you do not prepare a way for me to go?

Paul wrote in Galatians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" reminding us that all wisdom resides in Christ Jesus. Thus, when we need wisdom, we are to go to the Source, who is Jesus our Lord. He will guide us, help us to know what to do in each and every situation. But, the key is that we must apply the knowledge we glean, and we must always remember to "heed" (listen and then do what the Word instructs). Solomon said that once, "I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness" (Eccl. 7:25). Yes, the wisest man of all sought wisdom to prevent foolishness and folly. He understand the importance of wisdom (sound teaching, counsel, advice, and instruction). 

I sit here today, and I think to myself how often I cry to the Lord without really asking Him the most basic question, "What do you want me to do about this situation, Lord?" I mean, what am I to do? His answer almost always is one of two things: trust Him or REST. If I trust Him, then I am saying I believe in Him, and that His way is best. If I rest in Him, then I am letting Him do this work through me or instead of me. He is the One who does the work. Thus, trusting is where faith comes into play, but resting is where one (meaning me) stops doing, and lets things be. 

I know His answer already. I am to trust that He has me covered, and I am to rest and let Him do this work. 

In Closing

I am resting now. I cannot worry about this any more. I have no way to solve my problem, to correct this situation, so therefore, I let it go. I stop striving on this matter, and I focus on Him and Him alone. He is able to handle this better than I, and His solution is perfect just like His timing.

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