Feeling Fine Despite...
Sometime in the middle of the night, before the disturbing dream or after, I don't recall...I thought I heard the Lord speaking to me. It is funny how that happens. I am not sure if I am dreaming that He is speaking to me or if He really is speaking to me. I guess because it doesn't startle me, it probably is the latter and not the former. I mean, it is not unusual for me to feel that the Lord has said something to me in a dream.
In fact, recently I took one of those "spiritual gift" tests you find on the Internet, and the results said that I ranked high as an "apostle." LOL! Since I wasn't raised in pentecostal or some of the more charismatic faiths, I believe that the term apostle is reserved for only those in the New Testament. There are many Christians, however, who use the term in its personal sense as a special messenger, someone who has been sent by God to preach and teach the Word. There are many references to the word in ancient pre-christian texts, and the Old Testament uses it often to mean simply "authorizing" one as an emissary or as a messenger as part of an envoy. It was used to note the sending of a prophet, but as Baker's Evangelical Dictionary (2016) rightly states, the emphasis is typically on the sender and not the one who is sent (see link below). Furthermore, the word in the Old Testament was used in conjunction with the idea of a special function as in the one being sent was given by the authority of another a special function or work to do. I guess you could say that anyone "called" by God for a specific function or work could be thought of as an apostle. Still, I am of the view that the word itself is reserved for only those that were with the Lord when He walked on earth, and not in the general way simply because of the reverence for the word and its connotation with the sending out of the first missionaries to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Consequently, according to Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology (2016), the word is most often used in the New Testament and in specific with the Twelve, and carries significance because these were the men who 1) witnessed Christ's resurrection, and 2) were commissioned by Him directly to go and spread the good news. Generally speaking, in addition to these two "criteria," we also know that suffering is a component of apostleship. Baker's says, "In addition to understanding apostleship in terms of its basis in a divine call, Paul views the life of an apostle as being one of self-sacrificial service that entails suffering" (para. 13) Bakers includes the following scripture as reference to this additional criteria: 1 Col 4:9-13 ; 15:30-32 ; 2 Col 4:7-12 ; 11:23-29 (para. 13).
As I think about it, I understand how the gifts test I took labeled me as an "apostle," because the other name given was "dreamer," as in someone who has dreams and visions. Still, I get a chuckle that this little test "read" my answers and pinpointed me as such a special messenger. But back to my story...as I was drifting off to sleep, I did hear the voice of the Lord speaking to me. Was it real? I don't know, like I said. Was it a real voice? Yeah, it sure sounded like it. What does it mean? I am not sure, though I wasn't afraid nor was I worried about what I was hearing. I just heard someone speaking to me about a particular event, a circumstance, and that today, in particular, was going to be a very good day for me.
So despite my feeling somewhat hungover, I am looking forward to this "good day," because I believe it will be good -- all around -- GOOD!
Moving On and Moving In
This past week, I have struggled some with my performance at school (at GCU). Our third week of school is coming to a close today, and as such, I have been overly concerned about my effectiveness in the classroom. Thankfully, the Lord gave me some nice "props" this week. First, one of my former students (who is retaking my class) shared with me how much he appreciated my care and concern about his well-being last year. He was struggling with so many things, and he was unwell to boot. He made it through my class, but didn't pass, and now he is retaking my course again. He was gracious to me, thanking me for all my care, and well, that just made my day. Then yesterday, as I was checking on students in the online forum, one of my new students posted about me saying how much I had already helped her with her assignment. I felt this swell of appreciation, and that made me feel so good inside. I always struggle to know if I am good, you know, doing a good job. But, this week, the Lord provided some wonderful moments, touch stones really, to help me see that despite my failings (and I have them), I am a good teacher. God be praised, He has made me into a fine teacher!
In all, my week has shown me that while I still haven't figured out how to deliver a winning lecture yet, I am improving each semester. I am learning how to be confident in class, strong in my delivery, and knowledgeable in my subject area. I am getting this teaching business down, and I need to cut myself some slack about my performance. Will I do that? Can I do that? I am praying over it now, and I am asking the Lord to help me finally let this go, to let it be, so I can move on and move into His blessed will for the rest of my life. Yes, Carol, it is time to "let it go!"
Lastly, in all of this "thinking," I have realized that sometimes the Lord speaks to me and I don't listen to Him. I hear Him, for sure, but I am so anxious, fearful or worried, that my insides just jumble up to the point where I cannot listen to His still quiet voice as He seeks to help me, to comfort me, to calm me. I am reminded of Psalm 46:10 that says to be still and listen. We must stop moving about. It is like that little child who cannot sit still on the seat next to you. They bounce, bounce, bounce because they have so much energy and until it is exhausted, they cannot and they will not sit still. I am like that child somedays. I simply will not sit still even when my Lord is about to tell me something very important. Oh, how I wish I would just sit and listen. Then, yes, then I would hear His marvelous word to me, and I would take comfort in it. I would know how to deal with my situation. I would know how to handle whatever circumstance I was facing, and I would have the confidence to do it well. May I be like David when he went out to face Goliath? May I stand strong like Moses when he faced Pharoah? May I be like Steven who was filled with grace as his enemies picked up stones to stone him? Oh, yes, Lord, may I be still and rest in your mighty works, your mighty ways, and your mighty will this good, good day!
As I close this blog post and prepare for my afternoon of teaching, one thing comes to mind: I am right where I am supposed to be. It is interesting to consider this fact, but often God gives special abilities to His children when He asks them to do a certain type of work. Honestly, while I have always desired to teach, I could not be a good teacher unless the Holy Spirit decided to give me His merciful gift of "teaching." Yes, I believe that He has given me this ability, and while it has not been easy to learn how to use this gift (and I am still figuring it out), it has made the process easier overall. What I mean is this, I have known for a long time that in order for me to teach college and do it well, I needed the "gift of teaching" to do it. It is not easy to teach, and anyone who says it is, well, they have never taught anyone or a group of people before. It is draining, difficult, and at times, distressing to teach to a crowd. Trust me, I know. But, with His gifting, I am able to do it. I realize that my teaching ability comes from the Lord, and because it comes from Him, I have to learn how to use the gift well. I wish I had some superpower suit like Tony Stark to put on, but I don't. Yet, my gift is much like that superpower. Even with Iron Man's suit, there was still quite a bit of learning curve in order to use it carefully and with control. My gift for teaching is similar. I have used it haphazardly in the past simply because I didn't understand how to let the Holy Spirit control it in and through me. I applied His gift to my work rather than letting Him teach through me. There is a huge difference in approach. One makes use of the gift like that of a $10 dollar bill (it is mine to use as I see fit), and the other, allows the Helper, God's companion, who is the GIFT work in and through each situation to bring about His intended outcome. As such, the more I learn to let Him teach through me, the easier it becomes overall. This is a life lesson really, but it is a good one for me to finally learn. Today, as I prepare for class, I am trusting Him to show up, to do this work through me. I will be His voice, and His hands, and His heart in this way (actually there to speak, touch, and love), but He is the One who will do this work. I pray this is so, I pray this is so, in Jesus' Name. Amen.