July 1, 2016

Waiting Is Difficult

It is a good morning here in sunny and humid, Phoenix! Yes, we had some summer storms roll on through this morning. The skies are clear now, but the air is still thick with humidity. It is a nice change from our normal sunny and hot weather, so I am not complaining at all. I am happy that the monsoon has finally arrived! Yay!

I slept pretty well last night, despite several weird dreams and a lot of tossing and turning. I am not sure how I got a good night's rest, but I did. I mean, I feel okay. I feel well-rested, and I feel ready to move on to whatever God has in mind for me this good, good day. I woke up this morning thinking how ashamed I am for allowing my feelings to control my attitude this week. I know better than to give in to my feelings, and while I do trust them to a point, I also know that my feelings can be easily manipulated by my enemy. Yes, he is able to manipulate the way I feel. When I allow him to manipulate my emotions, then I spiral down into this puddle of emotional confusion. My emotions take me on a roller coaster of sorts, and they run from high to low, high to low. UGH!

In truth, and in the light of reality, I am in a good place. I am in a safe place, and I am confident in the work the Lord is doing in my life. I know that His plan for me is good. This means that the plans He has in place are there for a reason, and that they will (or have) produced good in my life. Thus, I can rest in His ability to continue to create plans that will be for my overall good.

I know all of this is true. I mean, where I am today is right where He wants me to be. Does this mean He wants me to be confused? No, not at all. What I mean is that the place I am at regarding my work life is right where He wants me to be. I believe that my teaching career was a gift from God to provide a way for me to teach and complete my studies at Regent. It wasn't a career, per se, but it has produced one. I didn't receive a call that said, "Carol --> Go be a teacher!" No, nothing of the sort. It just happened that I felt I needed an easier, less stressful job to do while I was at Regent. The Lord provided a way for me, and I have worked as an adjunct instructor since. Now, I am ready to graduate and I am seeking full-time work. I believe that the Lord will provide an opportunity for me in His time. Perhaps the opportunity is this job I applied for at UHC. Perhaps it is for me to remain as an instructor for another year before He opens a door to a full-time faculty position. It doesn't really matter because the job is not what is important. What is important is that I do whatever work produces in me the skills, abilities, and training needed to prepare me, equip me, and ready me for His ministry, the work He has called me to do.

My problem is that I am impatient. I hate waiting. I don't want to wait. In fact, I don't want to wait at all. I would rather run head long into a fire if that fire was the doorway to some better opportunity. I would run in rather than wait for the firemen to put the flames out. The opportunity would still exist for me if I wait, and if I am patient, well, I could enjoy the new adventure "singe-less!" Sigh!

No, my issue is impatience, and when I am impatient, I lose all sense of control, of focus, and of determination to stay "fixed" on the task at hand.

O, Lord, will you ever tire of my childlike behavior? Will I ever grow up and learn to rest, to be still, and to wait for you to move in my life?

The Path of Fear or of Faith

You would think that after some 35 years as a Christ-follower, I would finally be able to stand firm against the wiles and trickery of the enemy. Nope; I repeatedly crash and burn, crash and burn. I would like to stand firm against his schemes, but when I am in difficult straits, feeling vulnerable and open to conflict, then my enemy attacks me with the most vigor. I fall flat on my face, and I cry out in pain. I am pierced, and I am pierced through my own folly.

Today, I decided to take a stand against him and to reaffirm my faith in my God who is able to do all things. I took the position of grace, of goodness, and I chose to believe in faith that God brings good to us and not harm. Jeremiah 29:11 TLB says, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

I love this quote, "Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will" because it resonates with me. One of the tools in my enemy's arsenal is fear. I am prone to fear, and fear causes me to doubt quickly. When I am afraid, I cower and I begin to envision all the possibilities that "could" happen to me. Last week, I started to fear this new job opportunity. My first fear was that I was not qualified to do the work. Even though I have the requirements met, I still believed that I wasn't knowledgeable enough to do the work. My second fear was logistical. I was afraid that working 40 hours a week would cut into my study/research time and would keep me from being a help to my parents. My third fear was in application. I believed that working from home, which is what I want to do, wasn't practical or doable given my current living situation. My computer is in my bedroom, and I have very little room to maneuver around. How can I possibly work from home and maintain a professional appearance in my bedroom? Last, my biggest fear was that I was making a mistake leaving a profession I love for a profession that is unknown. What if I begin this work and hate it? What if down the road I miss teaching so badly that I cannot stand doing this type of work?

My fear of the unknown outcome got the best of me, and this entire week, I started to second-guess my decision to apply. I said to my good friend last night that I had wished I had never applied. I mean, wouldn't it be easier now had I never applied at all? The funny thing is that I applied for a similar position last fall, and I was in the process of evaluation. I withdrew my application out of fear. I was afraid I couldn't pass my exams if I didn't have the full 16-weeks to study. I was afraid of starting a new job before I was ABD. Even though the Lord assured me that I would be fine, and that He would not allow anything to conflict with Regent, I backed out and played it safe. I am not saying my decision to back out was a bad one because I did study hard, and I used the down time to be prepared for my exams. But, if the Lord said it would be OK, then it would have been OKAY.

Fear is a big part of my life. I live in fear daily. I have tried to overcome my fear, to realize that many of my fears are irrational (what-if scenarios), and that when I am most vulnerable, I find I am harassed by the enemy most. He needles me and incites me to fear.

Standing Tall Today

Thus, today I am standing tall. I am looking my enemy in the eye and telling him in no uncertain terms that my God is bigger and more able to handle what concerns me. I am choosing to not be afraid, and instead, I am resting in faith in His abilities and not my own. I am confessing the WORD of God where it says,

Ephesians 3:20 NLT - "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."

Isaiah 55:8-9 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither 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 than your thoughts."

Isaiah 40:28 - "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable."

Psalm 147:5 - "Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure."

Deuteronomy 10:17 - "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and does not take a bribe."

I am choosing today to trust the Lord, to believe His word to me, and to rest in His word. If He says it is so, then it is so. I do not need to be afraid of the unknown or what may or may not happen because my God is always with me. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

I prayed this morning to accept whatever the Lord has in mind for me. I am choosing to trust Him, to rely upon Him, and to rest in Him. I am choosing to wait patiently for His answer and to believe in faith that His answer is good. I am choosing to believe that this path is for my best.

Moving Again

After some quiet contemplation and reflection, I realize that in order to move forward, I must follow where He is leading me to go. I cannot remain where I am, in the hallway, so to speak. If He has opened a door, and I believe He has, then I have to walk through it and continue to walk on. I cannot retreat back through the door to the hallway because then I am not obeying Him, but rather I am doubting His direction. I have said that I am resting in the Lord as He leads me, guides me, and provides for me. If this is truth, and I have said that it is so, then how can I remain in the hallway, and not heeding His command to go forth. If I do this for too long, then I am in disobedience to Him, and well, I know what that behavior and action brings. Yes, how many times have I said that I am like Jonah, afraid to go where the Lord leads, and in disobedience, finds himself stuck for three days in the belly of a fish. Oh no! Been there, done that one too many times now. Now, I believe that He is good, always so very good to me. Selah! As such, I must follow Him no matter where He leads me, and no matter what the territory appears to be like.

In Numbers 13 MSG, we read about the story of Joshua and Caleb and the men who Moses sent into the promised land to scout out the area. The men went as commanded, and came back to report what they had seen. As they shared the good news of the land (its fruitfulness), they also shared stories (and rumors) about the inhabitants of the land. Joshua and Caleb believed that the Israelites could defeat the people in the land and said so. The other men believed they were outnumbered and as such were unwilling to go and do what God had commanded them to do.
Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, "Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it.  "But the others said, “We can’t attack those people; they’re way stronger than we are. They spread scary rumors among the People of Israel. They said, "We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole. Everybody we saw was huge. Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants (the Anak giants come from the Nephilim). Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers. And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers."
The people believed the story the men told them and as a result they began to doubt God's provision. Joshua and Caleb said to the people of Israel,
Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, members of the scouting party, ripped their clothes and addressed the assembled People of Israel: “The land we walked through and scouted out is a very good land—very good indeed. IfGod is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And he’ll give it to us. Just don’t rebel against God! And don’t be afraid of those people. Why, we’ll have them for lunch! They have no protection and God is on our side. Don’t be afraid of them!”
The people still didn't believe God, and in His anger, He swore that the people who had witnessed His miracles in the wilderness, who led them from Egypt, and who was fulfilling His promise to them, would never enter the land. The Lord said that only Joshua and Caleb would enter the land. In Numbers 14:24 MSG, we read,
"But my servant Caleb—this is a different story. He has a different spirit; he follows me passionately. I’ll bring him into the land that he scouted and his children will inherit it."
It is interesting to read this passage of scripture because even though the story is thousands of years old, the moral is still valid and vital today. The psalmist warns us against placing our trust in man, in princes, and in worldly things (Psalm 60:11, 108:12, 118:8-9, 146:3) and both Isaiah and Jeremiah  warn against trusting in mankind. In Jeremiah 17:5 the prophet says "Thus says the LORD, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD.'"

Thus, it is important to remember, to ask ourselves the same question -- in whom do we place our trust?

If the Lord cannot lie, and His WORD says it is so, then we can trust the Lord to keep His promises, to keep His word to us. I struggle at times with believing the word of the Lord. I struggle at times with knowing what to do. Yet, I know my God well enough to know that He is who He says He is. He is the Great I AM, and as such, He is knows what is best for my life.

In Closing

As I close this post today, I am reminded of this story and the moral of it. If I say I believe and trust the Lord, then shouldn't I act like I believe and trust the Lord? The answer is mute because the question is rhetorical only. Yes, I must act and believe as such -- be consistent -- and not waver between belief and doubt. I have experienced too many blessings, opportunities whereby I saw God work miracles in and through my life. I have seen Him open doors, bring prosperity, and give to me blessing after blessing. My life has been blessed, and I am favored. However, there have been times or periods where the blessing has been stagnant, brief, or even halted. Why? I believe that in those lean times it was to show me that when I doubt the Lord's provision, doubt His word, or His will, then I cannot remain blessed. I must exercise my faith, stand up and stand firm in my devotion to Him. He has not changed; He has not relented. He is who He says He is and He is righteous, holy and just. If I want to be obedient, and I do, then I must remain in constant faith and devotion, believing, trusting, and yes, abiding in Him alone. I must look to Him as my Victor and my Champion. He alone is worthy. He alone is Good. And, as a good and loving God, the plans He has for my life are always good too. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

Heavenly Father,

I regret that this past week I doubted your word to me. I regret Lord that I spent so much time doubting what was true and what was not. As a result, I spent time feeling unwell, and in this way, I came to fear what was on the horizon. You were steady, never moving, and yet, I was afraid. I didn't do what I knew to do, which was to draw near to you. Instead, I allowed my enemy to overpower me and cause me to become even more afraid of what might happen down the road. I ask that you forgive my disbelief, and that you restore to me your good pleasure. I am not deserving of a second chance to believe, yet in grace, I know you will permit it. I ask this now in Jesus' Name, and I place my faith, my trust, my obedience, and my will in your hand. I will follow where you lead. I will let you guide me and provide for me. I will not look to man or mankind for solutions. I will look only to your hand of blessing, your Holy Spirit has He helps me to stand firm, to remain fixed, and to not deviate from the path you have me on this good, good day. I rest in your goodness, your provision, and the life you have in mind for me. Thank you, Lord, for your goodness, your grace, and your gift of blessing. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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