August 11, 2016

Best Laid Plans

It is a rainy Thursday here in Phoenix. Yes, the rain finally arrived late last night, and when I woke up this morning, there was a light drizzle falling outside my window. I am thankful for the rain, so very thankful. I am glad for some grey skies today, and my prayer, of course, is for that trend to continue (at the least) for a couple more weeks. I have a sneaky suspicion that the rain will abate after today, and then it will be back to sunny skies and high temps for the rest of this month and into the next. Oh well...such is life in Arizona!

I wish I could say that I am refreshed today, but I am not. I didn't sleep well at all, and I tossed and turned all night long. My mind was racing, just racing, and as a result, I simply couldn't relax and really get into a deep sleep. Part of my restlessness was due to the fact that I have an online webinar this morning at 9:30 a.m. Oh, how I do not enjoy early morning Q&A. I am so not a morning person! The webinar is for prospective students at Regent, and I have participated in this forum before. It is fun to answer questions (normally), but I am just worn out right now. I just finished my first cup of coffee, so my prayer is that with my second, I will be more awake and eager to encourage new doctoral students to consider our program. God is good, of course, and He has graciously provided this opportunity for me. I am thankful that I can help my University out this way. Of course, my hope is that this is just the beginning, and that in the near term, I will have more opportunities to help Regent out as the Lord leads, guides and provides for me. He is good, so very good to me!

Panic Perhaps

In other news, it appears my courses at Regent are closed. I had asked the chair about the classes last week, and he said he thought they would "make" registration. I logged in today and I am showing that my sections are closed with zero enrollments. I guess my hope of having this extra income just "poofed" out the window. I am trying not to panic now, and I am trying very hard to remain calm. I mean, this could be difficult for me, really difficult. I honestly do not know what to do. The pay at Regent is significant, and without my financial aid to help off-set costs, well, I am thoroughly stuck. Like STUCK right now. I don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do.

I am praying over this entire situation, trusting the Lord for His provision of good to me. He knows my needs, and He knows what I can and cannot handle this fall (with my dissertation and the like). If He feels it is best for me to only teach on campus at GCU and ACU through December, then so be it. Who am I to complain? Who am I to say that I know best? The Lord has me covered, well-covered, and while today, I feel a bit panicked, I am going to CHOOSE to trust Him. I am going to choose to rest in faith and let this pass me by. I am choosing to be faithful, to believe that He has me right where He desires, and that I cannot, nay will not, shift from His tender and merciful hold. Not right now, any way. Not right now.

As I consider my future, it looks very bright and shiny. I had hoped to be hired full-time at one school, but the Lord saw fit to hire me at several schools. It wasn't my option, really, not my best idea, but the Lord opened these part-time doors for me, and well, so be it. I still haven't heard back from ASU, and while that is not a shocker, I do wonder about it. Perhaps I should have been more positive about that opportunity. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so "glassy-eyed" over my appointment to Regent. Oh well, live and learn.

Right now, my most pressing need is income. My cash reserve is very low. I will be receiving my first pay from OCU in two weeks (end of the month). At that time, I should also get my first pay from ACU. GCU's pay won't kick in until mid-September and my refund, what little there will be since my school chose to apply my aid and not the scholarship, will arrive around the same time. Overall, I am upset, to say the least. My credit cards are maxed, and when I mean "maxed," I mean maxed right now. I simply do not make enough money to pay my bills AND make the minimum in payment.

How can this be? How did this happen? Lord, why has this come to pass?

God's Hand at Work

I read an interesting article online this past week or so. It was about the ways that God communicates change to us. The article was featured in Charisma magazine, and I cannot recall the author right now, but he was saying that God often communicates change to us in three ways:
  • Reduction in Finances
  • Reduction in Relationships
  • Reduction in Opportunities
The first of these is simple to grasp. Sometimes when our finances are reduced to the point where we can barely eek a living, God is telling us that the path we are on was temporary and not long-term. In this way, we are to read the writing on the wall, so to speak, and to understand that when our finances dry up, this can be an indicator that the Lord is getting ready to move us in a new direction.

The second way happens when we see relationships we have had draw to a close. Sometimes this is for our own good, as in a toxic relationship ending. But sometimes, it can be painful as in the loss of a loved one or even in moving away from friend and family (the comforts of home).

The last way is what we normally consider to be "closed doors." You know, when we are hoping for that new opportunity and then suddenly the door slams shut. God has closed the door on us, and we are left wondering why He has done so. Closed doors often signal a change in direction, and God will use them to help redirect our focus in a new way.

In all, God often uses these types of situations to help us understand His will and His plan for our life. We do well to take heed, to pay attention, especially if the issue of finances drying up or relationships ending seems to be happening regularly or for prolonged periods of time. It is vital that we understand that sometimes God has to get our attention, and these three ways often do the trick. These things, finances, relationships and opportunities, often are the exact remedy necessary to get us to look up, to look toward God, and to not continue to place our faith, our hope, and our trust in our own hand or the will and power of others.

In my case, I can see this readily. I have been working part-time for three years now. I know that I cannot continue to work part-time over the long haul. I need money, and I need it very, very soon. But, the Lord has control over my finances, so if He chooses to have them dwindle down, I have to believe that it is simply to help me see that my time as adjunct is coming to a close. Perhaps I will hear some positive news regarding that full-time position or perhaps I will simply find another job. I don't know. I figure that He has this all worked out, and while I may not like to wait and let things unfold, there is nothing I can do about it. Nothing, but trust Him and rest in faith.

Those Pesky Next Steps

So today is about 1/4 over, and I am sitting here thinking to myself, "what in the world am I going to do?" Of course, as I look over my to-do list, I realize that my first priority is to complete my proposal and make its defense next month. Then, I have to be ready to tackle my class at ACU and finish my class at OCU. Only then can I think about what I need to do for GCU. If, miraculously, Regent hangs tight, and my courses are closed by accident, well, then I will need to jump on board quickly. Right now, though, I am sinking into this place of despair. I mean, I simply do not see a way out of my situation. I see no way out. It appears as if the doors that were opened have shut now. It appears as if the Lord has allowed these opportunities to disappear, and well, that concerns me greatly.

Why, Lord? Why has this happened? And, what am I do to about it? Is there anything I can do about it?

My prayer today is for clarification and for some answers on lingering issues. For example, I would like to know, 'yay or nay' regarding that teaching position at ASU. If the Lord has this open still, and if He desires me to take it, who am I to say "no?" If, however, the Lord desires it to pass by me, then I must let it pass. I must let it go. I hold my hand open now, and I look up and ask Him to fill my cup with His good portion, His good provision, His good promise. He is good, so very good to me. He loves me, He cares for me, and He knows my needs. I believe this is true. I believe He is good all the time, and that His will is always good, always seeking my best, and is always pointed toward His overarching plan. Yes, it is His way and not mine. I must let this be. I must let this go. I must rest.

Last night, I heard Him speak these words to me as I drifted off to sleep, "Rest, my child. Rest." Of course, I was thinking, "Yes, Lord. Help me to rest" as in "help me to fall asleep," and not really as in "give way, let go, relent." Of course, now I think He was saying to me that I needed to relent, to give way, and to let Him move me as He pleased. Now, I am thinking He has something else in mind for me, and while I am struggling to keep my chin up and remain in faith, I have to believe that when He allows our finances, relationships, and opportunities to dry up, it is simply His way of saying to us, "Be ready, we are on the move!"

I have to believe that He intends to move me. I blogged about it yesterday, about how I felt in such confidence that He was going to move me from Phoenix to the place of His choosing. I felt that He was going to do it quickly, soon, and with great provision. Now, I struggle just to see the end, just to see how I will make it through the next couple of months. How will I move, Lord? How will I go?

My resources are drained, at the end. My patience is strained, and I feel unwell. Yet, He asks me to trust Him, to rest in Him, and that means that I must abide and listen (heed and obey) to His voice. I must consider His voice, His words to me. I must take them as authority, as His command to me. I must believe that whatever He says is true, and that His word, all of it, is spoken with intention. This means that if His word is spoken to create life, there is life. If His word is spoken to take life, then life ceases. You see, the word of the Lord is powerful. His speech is active and never passive. His speech produces results. We would do well to heed the word of the Lord, to listen to Him as He speaks to us. We would do well to pay attention, to be alert, and to take His word as authority over every area of our life. When we discount the word of the Lord, we presume to know better. We presume to know more than He does, and as such, we let our pride and our arrogance place us in tenuous positions. Instead, we must react with fear (awe and wonder), and we must marvel at His speech, His words to us. We must recognize that the Lord speaks to us in order to comfort us, to educate us, to guide us, and to provide for us. We must see life instead of death, and we must choose to receive His words as they were intended -- with their power, their might, and their authority -- since they can effectually bring about change instantly.

Consider the Lord and all He offers to us. 
Consider His words carefully. 
Take heed. 
Listen and obey.

Yesterday, well for the past couple days, the Lord has pressed upon me to read prophecy. I normally read Psalms and the New Testament daily as part of my bible reading plan. But, a couple days ago, the Lord simply encouraged me to read through the Prophets in the Old Testament. Not all of them, mind you, but certain prophets and certain passages (chapters). In all, the words written have been similar -- a call to recognize the coming judgement of the wicked, of those who persecute and kill His people, the Israelites, but also His grafted in people, His Church, the body of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

As I read these chapters, one thing stood out in my mind and that was that the Lord our GOD is a righteous Judge. He keeps His word. He has said He will strip the wicked from this earth, and in time, He will exact revenge on the people who have laid waste to His holy city, Jerusalem. He has shouted that His judgement is coming, and He has promised that it will be swift and without mercy.

My heart has grown sad recently at the sentiment I see all around me, thoughts and feelings expressed by good people on social media, thoughts and feelings that are vitriolic and hateful. I see both sides of the coin now, and I see how far the people of God have retreated, into the backwaters and byways, and how they are no longer standing in unison and in harmony. They are no longer bringing light into this dark place. How sad this is, how sad this turn of events. Not that it wasn't predicted or that it wasn't expected, but more so, that God's people simply allowed it to happen, they gave way, they stopped doing and being and living as the WORD commanded. They gave up, they gave in, and they welcomed the enticements of this world over the hard work, sacrifice, and yes, persecution that follows the Lord Jesus Christ.

Making Sense of Today

As I close this blog post for the day, I am trying so hard to make sense of my world, my little corner of the world. I am trying to see what the Lord intends for me to do. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I had the answer, and that the Lord was moving me to a certain place where I would live comfortably, modestly. I thought I would teach online for Regent and perhaps another school, and that for all intents and purposes, I would live my life quietly and peacefully in this place. Now, I am not sure. I wonder if He has changed His mind about my future. I wonder if the plans the Lord had for me, communicated to me, have somehow shifted to the left or the right. I wonder if I am to go now or will I simply exist here, languishing in this pit of despair. Oh, Lord, what is your will on this matter? What am I to do this good day?

Part of me wants to go back to bed, to crawl under the covers with my cat, and just go to sleep. Yes, I want to go to sleep. I am so very tired. I honestly do not know how much more of this waiting I can take. I don't know how much longer I can hold on. I know my Lord is good. I know He cares for me deeply and with great concern for my well-being, my welfare. Yet, I wonder why He has chosen to let me sink so low. Why Lord? Why?

In truth, I sit here and I think to myself that I have much with which to be grateful. I mean, I have a home, a roof over my head, and food on my table. I have a decent car, one that works well, and I have some part-time work. I am safe, I am comfortable, and I am good. I have my education, my almost completed PhD, and I have a lot of good options for my future. It is just the here-and-now that is all muddy and murky. It is the in-between time, the road that follows the endless corn fields of my mind. You know, the highways and byways, that run through America's heartland, the roads that seem to go on and on with nothing but corn or wheat fields to see. The towns are spread out across the plains, and they contain life, but the in-between ways, the byways, are simply long and oh-so boring stretches of sameness. I am so tired of the sameness of this life. I am so tired of the journey. I want to arrive at my destination, to live again, to be free to live and to do as I see fit. I want to enjoy life again, to be free from the pressure, the pain, and the problems of living at the poverty-line, at the threshold of "just barely making it." Will that day come? I don't know, I just don't know. I pray it will, and I pray it will very soon. Until then, I must continue to wait. I must look up, and I must patiently and fervently wait for the Lord to provide for me. He will do it, I am certain of it. He will see to it because His name, His mighty and powerful name, says it is so. Yes, He is my JEHOVAH-JIREH, and today, I wait in His name and with His word and with His testimony that shouts to me -- HE WILL SEE TO IT! Yes, He will see to all my blessed needs this good, good day. Selah!

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