August 24, 2016

Next Steps

It is Wednesday, and that means that for this week, at the least, I am finished with teaching! Woohoo! I am finished for the entire week!! In truth, this is my last week before I am back to full-time status, teaching at two universities in Phoenix and one university online. I will be plenty busy as the week's wear on, and for now, I am happy, content, and filled with eager excitement and anticipation. God is so good to me. He is so very good.

Today was a good day on campus. I like my little class, and frankly, it should be easy to manage as the semester moves into high gear. My students seem engaged, and praise be to God, that is a blessing. Such a blessing.

I am home now, and I am happy to report, settled back at my desk and ready to tackle some big business needs. I have reading to do -- a lot! Mostly review of British Literature, and then some other work for my classes next week. In all, I am in good shape. I had a great conversation with my professor, Dr. Keeler, about my research project yesterday. I got my drafts back, and as usual, I have to rewrite a fair portion of both chapters. My prayer is to have my revisions done this weekend (well, almost all of them). More than likely, I will need to revise next week as well. If all goes well, and this is my prayer, I should still be on track to defend my proposal in September. Praying it is so, praying it is so!

Prospering As You Go

As I mentioned earlier, I am content to be where I am at right now. I was praying about my life this morning, and as I walked on campus, I had this thought come to mind: "I am so blessed to do this kind of work!" Yes, as I walked to my class, and I started to interact with my students, I had this overwhelming sense of His peace, His joy, and His provision. It was like my soul was flooded with His prosperity, and by that I simply mean, with a sense of prosperity. Prosperity is defined in many ways, but mostly it is equated with a sense of increased economic or social status. Though while this may be true, prosperity can be defined as a sense of overall wellness or health or vitality.

"Prosperity is the state of flourishing, thriving, good fortune or successful social status. Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes other factors which can be independent of wealth to varying degrees, such as happiness and health" (Wikipedia).

In my case, I would say that I felt a sense of flourishing, a sense of success in my endeavors, today. In this way, I had this feeling that my happiness, my feelings of joy and satisfaction, were being expressed through my experience as a teacher. Let me explain...

Yesterday, I cited Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NASB) in the close of my blog posts. These verses are often quoted by Christians who believe in a "prosperity gospel," or a belief that God desires all men to be successful and prosperous (wealthy and healthy). In some Christian circles, the idea is that as believers in Christ Jesus, we automatically inherit all the riches that belong to God the Father. Therefore, as joint heirs with Jesus, all we have to do is "confess" or command these riches to be delivered to us.

"Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success) is a religious belief among some Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being is always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations will increase one's material wealth" (Wikipedia).

Prosperity preachers use the "name it and claim it" approach to Biblical wealth and financial success. They say that all a believer has to do is name what they need, claim the Word, and that somehow God will do as the believer says. While some aspects of this teaching are biblical, much of it stems from false doctrine, heresy, and ancient traditions that have nothing to do with Christian doctrine.

I struggle some with this idea of "naming and claiming," yet I also do know that as a child of God, I do have access to one of the most powerful intercessors known in heaven and on earth, and that is, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, I do have access to His authority to do many things as the Word clearly instructs. For example, I have the same power and authority to do works similar to what is recorded in the New Testament. And, just like the early Church, signs and miracles are still being performed by many through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, where the line seems drawn is in regard to the way in which these signs and miracles occur. Do believers decide themselves when to perform a miracle or is the Holy Spirit agent and actor in determining when, who, how, where, etc. a miracle takes place?

In my view, the idea that God desires all to prosper is biblical. I believe that it is God's will for His children to be healthy, whole, and healed. However, I also know that sin, and the free will that humans possess often interferes with the expressed and distinct will of God. Thus, Christians do have access to the whole counsel of God's word. We can be healed through prayer and with the application of oil and the laying on of hands. We can also not be healed, if that is the Lord's desire, and no amount of praying is going to change the Lord's mind. Take for example, Paul's "thorn in the flesh." Paul writes that he pleaded with God to remove this thorn, to release him from its pain, yet God didn't relent. Paul lived with this thorn in his flesh until he eventually died. So while we can "name and claim" whatever we like, the Lord is the one who determines wealth, health and overall prosperity.

Therefore, when I say "prosper" in all areas of my life, I mean to suggest a sense of wholeness, wellness, and goodness as is imparted to the life of the believer in Christ Jesus. Yes, in this sense, I am prosperous, very successful, and the blessings I receive are more than financially motivated or based. I have a sense of well-being, and I feel His good pleasure well up in me when I am doing the work He has called me to do. In many ways, I am experiencing what Eric Liddell expressed so eloquently years ago when he said,

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

I can say that when I teach, when I am imparting knowledge to students, I feel His pleasure. I know that God has a great purpose for my life, and when I am walking in my purpose, it is then that I experience the joy, the peace, and the pleasure of the Lord. I feel it. I sense it. I can tap into it. In doing so, my inside and my outside seem to shout for joy, jump with excitement, and I know, in that very moment, that I am doing the very THING He has called me, prepared me, trained me, equipped me, and designed and purposed me to do. Selah!

Learning How to Receive His Good Will

Today is a good day. I feel it inside my bones, so to speak. In truth, everything in my life seems to be "coming up roses," lately. This is not to say that I don't have troubles because I certainly do. In fact, I still have many unresolved tensions, little annoying and difficult situations that simply have no resolution in sight (at this time). One of those situations that is troubling me is the fact that I need to find a second car for my son. As is usual in my family, my Dad has made it known that he is not happy about having to transport my son to and from school one or two days each week. This is not unusual and over the course of my life, from the time I was pregnant with my son and up until this very day, I have experienced this "flip flopping" of agreement. One day we are fine and in agreement, but the next, the agreement is no longer valid and other arrangements must be made.

I am tired of this pattern of behavior. I am tired of living at the mercy of others. I am tired of having to rely on others for my needs. I have prayed to the Lord, begged Him to provide a solution, but as of today, no such solution exists. You see, no such solution is on the horizon (that I know of). The problem I face is that the disagreement is always one-sided. I routinely sacrifice and give up my time, my talents, and my abilities to meet the needs of others. I am usually the one who is "put out." But, when I need support, help or encouragement, my needs fall way to the bottom of the list behind everyone else.

Lately, this fact has come to the forefront, and I realize now that it is time for me to go. I need to be my own person, be responsible for my own needs, and take control of my own life under the Lord's leadership and guidance. I need to be prosperous in the area of authority and control, and this means that I need to be on my own again, fully capable and sustainable on my own.

This semester is my last as a doctoral candidate, and for all intents and purposes, I am ready to graduate. Once I graduate, I will be free to move, to go to another city or town, and to be settled in the way the Lord desires. I am ready to be a home owner again, to have my ducks in a row, and to be fully responsible for my life -- my needs -- food, shelter, clothing, etc. I believe this is the Lord's will for me. I believe that this is His timing. I must rest, of course, and I must trust Him to provide for me. I am asking the Lord to provide a way for me to move out of my current situation, to move out on my own, get my own place, and begin my own life again. I am ready to be free again.

As I think about my life today, I realized that often I have been hesitant to receive the Lord's good will for my life. As odd as that seems, it is truth. Sometimes I have been afraid to receive His blessing, His goodness, and His provision for my life simply because I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what He would ask of me. Would He mandate that I move across the USA to NYC (as my good friend jokes)? Would He ask me to live in a cold and wintry climate versus a hot and humid one? Would the Lord ask me to give up teaching for another career? And so on. I simply didn't trust Him enough so I would hesitate to receive His good will in my life. I would say in some ways, "thanks, but no thanks" to the Lord.

Now, though, I realize that the Lord only gives good gifts -- meaning -- every good gift is well suited to His purpose and His plan. Every good gift is well suited to His design for our lives.

Thus, as I think about moving out on my own, I realize that the Lord has this in mind for me. He has said, "Carol, it is time to go," and with His word on the matter, I have said, "Yes, Lord, I am ready to go." Of course, there are issues connected with my going. I have to consider my parents (in general) and my son (always). I have to consider what effect my moving will have on my family. But, I also know that if the Lord says for me to go, then He has a plan that encompasses my parents and my son. I don't have to fret, to worry, or to stress over these details because my Lord has me well-covered.

It is funny how today, of all days, I am utterly okay with moving out of my home. I like my home, don't get me wrong. I like my life. But, I am excited to try something new. I am ready to try something new. I want to go and live in a new place, and to enjoy the blessing of starting over. You see, when I moved out of my shared home (as my marriage was ending), I had little time to find a new place to live. The Lord provided a lovely home for me and my son. It was a good place, a very good place, and we were happy in it. Then the Lord provided this home for me, to share with my parents, and for the past three years, going on four, we have gotten along well (with only minor scuffles). However, while this seems good, in truth, it is temporary. I cannot be a child again. I am a grown woman, and I have needs, wants, and desires. I want to live on my own, in my own way, as I see fit. I want to call the shots, go where I want, and live as I want to live. I am ready to enjoy the freedom that comes with being a 53-year old single woman.

The timing of this move is singularly important to me. No matter how I slice and dice it up, I have to be careful about my "going" to another home. My parents need care, a place to live where they can be autonomous and cared for physically. I love my parents, but I have done my time with them. I want my peace, and I want my quiet, and I want to live on my own now.

My son, likewise, is ready to be out on his own. Although, I think he will remain with me for a while still, there will come a time soon when he will want his own place and to make his own way in the world. I have to let this be. I have to facilitate this so he can be the man God has called him to be. I am ready for both of us to transition from a shared life to a single life. I am ready, and now I must wait for the Lord to provide this life to me.

In Closing

I am not sure why the Lord placed this particular topic on my heart today, but I am sure it is important. What I do know is this -- I needed time to come to accept this fact, that the Lord was calling me to live singly, and that meant on my own. I tried very hard to find a way whereby we could all remain together, but the more I tried to imagine that life, the more unsettled I would become. In the end, I had to accept that what God wanted for me was for me to be a single woman, wholly devoted to Him, a woman who places Him first in every area, and a woman who is willing to say no to family, to friends, and to peers when and if asked to do something that doesn't align with His expressed will for my life. I have learned to say "yes" to God and "no" to the world, even the world that I love, in order to follow after Him and to be obedient to His will and His word. Now, I am ready. I am ready to go. I am ready to leave behind the comfort I know in exchange for the big scary unknown. I am ready to take on the challenges He has for me where He asks me to "trust" and with that trust, where I learn to let go and let Him lead, guide, and provide for me. I am ready, Lord. I am so ready to follow after you unto the ends of the earth. I am ready to go where you send me, to live where you tell me to live, to do the work you have provided for me to do. In all things, I am ready to serve you and to serve others in your Name and with your power and with your authority. I am ready, Lord. I am ready for you to send me.

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