Nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
As weird as this may be, I think I have been experiencing a bit of "I told you so" from the Lord. Let me explain...
It is Monday, and I am happy to report that I am happy today (VBG!) Yes, I am happy. I am rested, relieved, refreshed, and generally, feeling relaxed about my month ahead. I have about three more weeks until school begins at ACU, five weeks before I start at Regent and GCU. I begin teaching online at OCU tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes, I am in a good place right now. I am not as far along as I should be on my paper, but I don't feel panicked or rushed in this process. There is this part of me that knows that the Lord's timing is perfect when it comes to my paper, so I am letting this "rest" a bit. I am trusting the Lord to deliver me through the fire of my proposal, and to prepare my way on to my final defense. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13), Selah!
As I think about the prophet's words today, I can only say that the Lord has been reminding me lately that He is God and I am not. Yes, He has been reminding me that I tend to want my own way, and whenever I do that, I run the risk of getting my own way (LOL!) By this I simply mean that when I demand my way, sometimes the Lord yields and in doing so, well, I get what I deserve. In truth, my way is always less than His best. Take for example my desire for a full-time teaching position. Now, I am sure the Lord does desire for me to have a full-time job. Yes, He knows my needs well. I am sure He is pleased when I seek Him for permission to apply to jobs, consider His judgement on schools, etc. However, if the Lord has determined that it is best for me to teach part-time at multiple schools, then there is a reason for this decision. I may not know His will on the matter, but if this is His decision, then so be it. Yet, I may think I know what is best (a full-time job, for example), and because I believe this is the Lord's will for my life, I become fixated and focused on finding that job. But, as I said, the Lord's will is for me to work part-time at multiple schools, thus as I seek my way (my own interpretation), I inadvertently clash with His way. I suffer the results -- which is frustration, depression, dejection -- all because I am doing what the writer of Proverbs 3:5-6 says we should not do. I am "leaning on my own understanding" of matters, and as such, I am mistaken in His intention and His will. Yes, I am guilty of leaning on my own understanding, of interpreting events as they seem to make sense to me. Sometimes I am correct in my understanding, but sometimes I am not spot on. In many ways, I am seeking to join two lines into a "right angle," when one of those lines is not true. Thus, my rightness is all wonky. My building is out of plumb and not square (to quote Bob Vila).
My vision is to think rightly about all matters, so to do this, I must consider the Lord's determination on matters first and foremost. Thus, if the Lord says this or that, I must abide. He knows best. If the Lord gives me the option of choosing, of deciding, then I am free to decide what I think is best. I would still do well to heed His counsel and advice, and by doing so, I am able to ensure that I will suffer far less consequences then if I pursued matters using my own intelligence and understanding.
Yesterday, our former pastor, Dr. Darryl Delhousaye preached on the beatitudes. He gave his usual funny sermon, but he also made some strong points that resonated well with me and my current situation. He addressed righteousness or rightness, which hit hard at home. He discussed self-righteousness as anathema to the will of God. He also talked about how when we act self-righteously, we are basically asserting our fleshly desire to be treated like a god. I loved his examples, and I found his message heartening. I am still pondering my own issues with self-righteous behavior, and specifically, with my desire to always be "right."
One of the issues I struggle with is my temptation to wrestle with God on most matters. I say I want His way, but often I really just want to get my own way. I want to have things meet my standard, and whenever I do, I sink into this "need to have things just right." My prayer today is to finally stop doing this, to finally let this behavior go. I know it displeases the Lord, and anything that displeases Him is sinful. Thus, I need to stop contending for my way. I need to accept that His way, His thoughts, His ideas and His provision is always best. It is always "right, square and true."
As I think about this more today, I realize that my headstrong personality, my INTJ profile, causes me great trouble at times. Furthermore, my logical and analytical brain wiring causes me to think that I have everything figured out, and that I know what I am doing. In truth, often I don't have everything figured out, and I don't know what I am doing (LOL!) In fact, I was just thinking about that job I applied for at UHC. I thought to myself that had I been offered that job, I would have been in the hiring process (background check, drug test, etc.) right now. I thought how I would have felt when the email from Regent arrived asking if I was still available to teach this fall. I would have died. I mean, I would have died. Teaching at Regent is my dream, and had I been hired at UHC, I wouldn't have been able to accept my dream job. Instead, the Lord chose to have me be rejected (which was hard to take) in order to receive something better. In my mind, though, that full-time job was the better thing, the better provision. In the Lord's providence, His best was for me to receive the offer for part-time work from Regent University.
Oh, how my view is so unclear, so faulty! Oh, how His view is perfect, clear, and always with my best in mind! Selah!
This whole matter reminds me that my human flesh thinks it is right, even when it is not. My human flesh wants things NOW, when it is best for me to wait. My human flesh seeks its own selfish desires, and my human understanding works overtime to rationalize my wants so that my reasons are justified. Ain't that great? What a fallen creature we are for certain...
Today, I am sitting here thinking, well reflecting on my life. I am always reflecting, and on Sunday, Pastor Darryl said that reflection is one of the beatitudes (for sadness). It is the practice of thinking back on past events or behaviors, and then in light of revealed truth, analyzing misdeeds or miscues in order to learn from them. In short, when we reflect, we consider life lessons, we consider how our actions or our words impacted the choices we made. In many ways, as we reflect, we are more able to rationally understand or come to terms with the choices we are making, and we can navigate behaviors or emotions more clearly to ensure that we don't keep on repeating the same mistake over and over again. When it comes to sin, reflection reminds us who we are, and that we are made with clay feet (Daniel 2:33). In this manner, we are humbled by the truth that we are simply created beings, who being made flesh, are flawed as a result of Adam's sin nature. Therefore, no matter how hard we try, in and of ourself, we can do no good thing. We simply do not possess the ability to do good (good enough, I should say, to merit acceptance by God). Consequently, in reflection, I am able to see my sin more acutely, and with confession, I can come to terms with my sin and its resultant behavior. Reflection is good for the soul, and it is good because it helps us see God and His way more clearly.
My prayer today is to be reflective and to stop and take the time to think more about what matters in my life. I am hopeful that the plans the Lord has for me are good (Jer. 29:11), and that in listening to the Lord and then in following after Him (obeying Him), I will find a good life, a good future, filled with His blessing and with His prosperity. My heart is humbled to think that my God is interested in the little things in my life, that He desires for me to know Him intimately, and that He cares about the details to intervene and direct my steps. I must never think I know better than He does. I must never think I am better, more smarter, or more able to judge rightly than my righteous, holy and good Judge and King, Jesus!