God is so good, so very good! I am praising Him tonight for His goodness, and for helping me pass a really good night's sleep.
I know it sounds funny to say it that way, but in truth, I do give God all the praise. Some people might think, "well, that is just silly -- all you did was put some muscle cream on!" Yes, that is true. Still, I know in my heart that the Lord understands my condition well. He knows that I suffer from exhaustion due to stress, which can be a life-shortening condition. Thus, anytime I get a decent night's rest -- well -- it is a praise report. I don't sleep well normally. I try, I mean. I do everything I can to sleep well (good bed, proper temperature, quiet environment, etc.), but with my physical condition (my structural issues), I rarely sleep well. I am mostly in pain at night, so I do my best, but when I get a really solid night in, well, I just have to give Him praise. He knows me well, and He is always so good about helping know exactly what to do so I can relax and sleep.
As I think about His goodness, I am reminded of His very name, and how His name represents His nature. He is good. He is God. In and through it all, there is this deep wealth of good nature, and from inside of His person, there emanates His desire for good. It is true what scripture says in Psalm 136:1 (NLT), "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever."
Moving On After Difficulty
It has been a trying couple of weeks, and today, I am ready, really ready, to move on. I have been tempted to give up lately, to let my circumstances win, but this week has been a time of refocusing my energy, a time of putting my life and my work back into clear view. Let me explain...
This weekend was a bear, a brutal and awful bear. Once again, I was stuck grading 100 plus essays in 48 hours. I hate it when this happens, but it is the life of a college professor, and frankly, no matter how I try to avoid it, I always seem to get slogged with too little time and too many essays. God be praised, He helped me through it all, and yes, I achieved my goal -- all essays graded. Still, I struggled mightily with the task, and despite feeling unwell the entire week leading up to the weekend, and then through the weekend itself, well let's just say that I couldn't have managed without His complete control, confidence, and companionship. In short, I couldn't have done what I did without the Lord's help. Selah!
Furthermore, in addition to grading 100 plus essays, I also finished my 90-page proposal and sent it off to my chair for final review. I am now one step closer to getting a date on the schedule for my presentation (the last week of this month). This whole process of writing, revising, etc., has been difficult for me. I am not into revising like this normally, so to spend months and months revising a draft, well, it is very hard to do and to keep interest and motivation running high. Despite all of that, I completed the draft (version 3), and sent it to my chair on Saturday.
Last, with all that in mind, I also managed to make some headway around the house, to begin to tackle some projects and to make some plans for the next couple months. Again, my time is so limited now that I often put off home-life tasks just so I can stay on top of my school work. But, the Lord prevailed, and well, I took care of some things that simply needed attention. One of them was to address my poor little fish and his struggle with being in a too-small tank. In truth, I thought Lenny was on his last fins (pun, intended). He was bottom sitting again, and would only swim around once before settling into the corner of the tank. I googled to learn that more than likely he was seriously ill. I believed I would find him floating on top of the tank, and well, that thought just bothered me. I have cared for Lenny for two years (almost 3), and in short, even though he is a fancy goldfish (all of $3.50 cents at the pet store), I do enjoy having him as part of my family.
I carved out some time on Saturday to address his needs. First, I cleaned and cycled the tank, and spent some time trying to get the PH balance right. Second, I did a shock treatment to the water (bringing the temperature up to about 82 degree, salting it more than normal, etc.) in order to see if either would help him feel better. I also fasted him for three days, and then after the water settled (cycled) back to normal, I waited to see if there was any improvement. Thankfully, I noticed that he was pooping quite a bit on Sunday (he has for several days now), and that he started to swim and act normal again. I know he needs a bigger tank (20 gallon), but for now, I neither have the money or the space for a bigger tank. So, I have the water PH balanced, the temperature good, and I have cut way back on food. He seems to act happy again (you know swimming, wiggling, etc.) and his color and fins look nice and healthy. In all, I think he is on the mend and doing well.
I also took care of my Mom this weekend, and spent some time shopping with her so that she could get out of the house. It is important for my Mom to have a normal life, as much as possible, and since she cannot drive anymore, she waits on me or my Dad to take her places. I am sure this bothers her (I know it does). I am slammed most of the time, but the Lord suggested I take her out, and I did. We had a nice time together, and as a result, I think she felt better (more engaged, etc.). In all, my weekend was stressed, pressure-cooked, and power-packed, but praise be to God, I survived it. I survived.
My plan for today (it is Tuesday) is to start making plans for the rest of fall and the early spring, as much as it is possible to do so. One thing is for sure...I know that I cannot do what God has called me to do on my own. I am physically not able to do this work. I am beyond my abilities, day in and day out, and while I do my best, I suffer daily. Still, when I think about changing jobs, giving up what I do, etc., I simply cannot imagine doing any else. In this way, I believe that I am right where the Lord wants me to be -- 100% within His domain and control. I am called to do this work, yet the work is grueling, difficult, and stressful for me. I am moved in this way, but I know I cannot do it successfully or with any measure of achievement. I long to do this work, even though I fail mightily at it. It is like I must do this work even with all the pain and the pressure. I am driven to do it. I guess you could say that I have come to realize what it means to be called to a way of life, and that in the calling, there is great sacrifice. I love what I do -- despite the pain. I love what I do -- despite the pressure. I love what I do -- despite the lack of praise, of position, and of power. I love this life.
In and through it all, I realize that I am right where the Lord wants me to do -- completely and totally -- dependent upon Him for everything. I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me. I can do nothing in my own right or through my own ability. I can only do this work so long as it is His power and authority working through me. Selah!
As I think about moving on, I guess what I am trying to say it this -- I have relented, released my control, and resisted my need for being in charge. I have rested in this matter. I have accepted my "lot in life," and as such, I have come to learn contentment in the process. This means that for today, I am at peace with my path. I may hope to have a full-time, less stressful position, some day -- but -- this may or may not come to pass. I may desire to live in another state, to move to a place where the climate is more variable -- but again -- this may or may not happen. Where I am today is where the Lord has planted me. He meets my needs with sufficiency, with grace, and with goodness. He is my SOVEREIGN RULER, my KING, and my LORD. I desire nothing else but to know Him. I can say with Paul that no matter how much I come to know -- to learn, to process, to comprehend -- it is Jesus Christ and the cross that matter most (1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV).
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Today is a good day. It is a beginning of sorts for me. I have accepted my lot, my life, and I have come to accept the realization that the path I am to follow will be many things -- many wonderful things. But, there will also be hardship, trial, and difficulty. While I do not believe I will suffer (continue to suffer) financially (praise be to God), my suffering will be physical (as in disability). I realize and understand that God has given me abilities beyond the physical. I can speak and teach (preach), I can study and learn. I am a scholar, a student, and someone who is single-mindedly focused on outcomes. I can master many, many things, and I simply do not give up or in easily. In all the good that God has given to me, He has permitted me to suffer from physical pain. The pain, at times, keeps me from focusing on His will and His way. The pain sometimes makes it difficult for me to stay on an even-keel, but I know that with the pain, God has always provided a way through it. In all this, I have come to see that God doesn't intend to make my life easier per se, but He does intend to make it special, unique, and wonderful none the less. He has me well-covered. He has me in His hand, in His care, and He has said to me that I am safe. Until my last breath, my last day, my very last moment on Earth, my lips will give Him praise. I will sing unto the Lord a new song, and in this way, I will bear witness and testimony to His goodness, His faithfulness, and His ever abiding presence. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!