October 29, 2016

Long Week is Now Over

Happy Saturday, world! It is a beautiful day here in sunny and mild, Phoenix. The sun is shining and the skies are clear. Our weather is forecast to be right around average (finally) for this time of the year. This means our highs are in the 80s and low 90s rather than close to 100! I was watching our local news the other day, and the weather man said that we are staying near 100 for longer and longer periods of time. I was thinking how our normal for October is 80-90 degrees, and then in November, we see 70-80 degrees for our highs. This year, our entire October has been near 100. Ugh! Where are those cool, crisp, fall like days? Not here in Phoenix, for sure!

Despite the hot weather, I am bound and determined to enjoy fall. It is October 29, which means that Halloween is on Monday. Yeah, school days and Halloween were always so much fun. Not so much at the college level, but still fun when you think about it. Once Halloween is over, it is one quick ride to the Christmas holidays. I cannot believe that the year is almost over! Wow! This means that there are 63 days left in 2016. Yes, 63 more days until the new year arrives. That thought just amazes me because 2017 is my BIG YEAR. It is the year I graduate from Regent University, the year when my life should come into clear focus, and the year when I will start “living” out my dream. Yes, 2017 is the “piece de resistance” so to speak. It is the year I have been waiting to come to pass, dreaming about what might be, and patiently hoping it would arrive. Selah!

More Thoughts on Going

This past week has been trying for me. When I say trying, I mean difficult, jam-packed, and so full that I literally thought I would fall over from the weight I was carrying around with me. Praise be to God, I survived it. I did survive it. I am so grateful that the Lord pressed on me to have student conferences week instead of a normal teaching week. In truth, I am rather hit or miss about holding them, but a couple week’s ago, I decided that it would be good to meet with a handful of students each day, just so I can spend some quality one-on-one time with them. Praise God, I am so glad that I decided to follow my heart and hold conferences this past week. Not only was I able to meet with the students directly, but I was able to sit with them, discuss their paper, and generally get a feel for where they are at in the writing process. It was low-key for me, and with my new courses beginning at Regent, well, it was nice to have less work to do in each of my on campus classes. Everything worked out perfectly, and since the beginning of the week was stressful due to my proposal defense, having such a low-key week was really a special blessing to me. In all, even though the week was stressful, with my student conferences and my “share days” (where my students share their reviews), the week turned out to be very nice and very easy. Selah!

As I sit here today, I thank the Lord because I am feeling better today. Yes, my tummy troubles of the past week finally seem to be subsiding, and I am feeling that sense of wellness again.  Over all, I feel good, and even though the next two months will be hectic for me — what with my research beginning — I am confident that the Lord has me so well covered. Yes, I am stressed over my research project, but I know that God is good, and that this project is fully surrendered to Him. I have given the outcome over to Him, and in this way, I am letting Him lead, guide, and provide for me.  He will cover me, I believe it, as I begin my research and continue to work on my dissertation. God be praised, I will do it! I will finish this research, and I will graduate in 2017!

So with this in mind, I give praise to God today as I remember my blessings, as I give thanks to Him for His mercy and His goodness, and as I praise His Holy name for His faithfulness. He has blessed me beyond blessing, and He has covered me in such a way that I am safe, secure, and completely settled. I am good, so very good today. Praise God, I am good!

Get Up and Go!

This morning, as I was praying to the Lord, I heard Him say to me that it was time to “get going.” Of course, I have said repeatedly that I am ready to go, that I believe the Lord has told me that I am ready to go; but that for some reason, He has me stationed here in Phoenix for a time, and that I am prevented from going “just yet.” Last week, I wrote on my blog that I had come to terms with my “lot in life,” that I felt that for the time being, I was to stay put and not think about my future or the plans the Lord has for my life. I felt unsure about staying here in Phoenix, but for all practical intents and purposes, staying “put” made good sense to me. I mean, my son needed another year at school (or so he said), my parents need caring (and I am the slotted caregiver), and I already have two good jobs at local schools. In so many ways, staying put in Phoenix simply seemed like the “right thing to do.”

The problem was that all week long, I was unsure about staying put. I mean, yes, the logic followed, it tracked, and frankly, I could accept the rationale that it was in my best interest to just stay here from this point on. I had doubts, of course, mostly in my ability to purchase a home, and in whether or not I could maintain my lifestyle in our current rented house. I believed the Lord would provide, and I still do believe this is the case, but the more I looked at staying, the more downcast I felt inside. I didn’t want to disappoint the Lord, and I didn’t want to go against His calling or His mandate for my life. But something wasn’t right, something didn’t seem right, and the more I meditated on it, considered it, and tried it out, the more I felt that regardless of what seemed to make sense to me, the truth was that the Lord was asking me to go, telling me to go, calling me out to go.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).
I tried so hard to not think about going, about moving this entire week. I pushed it out of my head, prayed about my willingness to let go, to leave things be, and to accept the Lord’s will to remain in Phoenix. I tossed and turned at night, and I had massive dreams — every single night — where I was trapped, being followed, or hounded by some person, someone wanting me or trying to capture me. I escaped in all my dreams, thwarted his advances, but in the end, I still dreamed I was being chased. I should mention that I haven’t dreamed like this in months, literally months, so the past five-six nights of constant dreaming has really taken a toll on me physically. I simply haven’t slept well. I haven’t rested well. And, coupled with my hard week at work, teaching so many classes, prepping for my defense, and so forth, well, I was beat. I was worn out, worn in, and worn over. Yes, I was overdone!

This morning, I had another epiphany moment. A couple days ago, I wrote about my epiphany moment whereby I came to accept my role and responsibility. I came to accept that I am where I am for a reason. In this way, I came to terms with this season in my life. I am where I am because God has said it is good for me to be here. In truth, I accepted a lot about my life last week. I let many things go, I relented of my stubborn willfulness, and I accepted the truth that God has a plan for me, and that His plan will not be thwarted by my lack of understanding or my unwillingness to follow His leading.

I slept well last night, and I had probably the best nights sleep in a couple weeks. I woke up near on 9 a.m., and for the most part, I felt very refreshed, very rested. The first thing I did when I got up was to ask the Lord about all this “stuff.” I mean, I was tired of the way I was feeling, and even yesterday, I looked in the mirror, and I felt so drawn, so drained, so draggled. I walked around campus like a sloth, slowly moving, climbing the stairs, and generally, feeling sluggish. I was miserable all day, and when I fell into bed last night, I absolutely crashed. Like I said, I slept pretty soundly, and I woke up feeling far more refreshed then I had been in days.

So, this morning as I was thinking about “going” or getting myself “going,” I couldn’t help but wonder how I could “go” if I was being told to stay put, know what I mean? It seemed to make no sense to me to hear the Lord whisper “go,” but to believe that I was meant to stay right where I was and not physically “go” anywhere.

I’ve blogged about going, physically moving for years now, but the last year or so, I have been intensely focused on the physical move itself. I have prayed over it, meditated on it, and generally accepted that I would be “going” some time in 2017. Then last week, I blogged that it seemed like the Lord put the brakes on for me, and I was placed in a holding patterned for at least another year. I struggled to accept this barrier, and I prayed over it to make sure it was from the Lord. I know that my ministry is flexible, and by that I mean that I have known for years that I can do my ministry anywhere the Lord desires. I can stay here in Phoenix or move to NYC, for example, and my ministry will be the same. My ministry is not tied to a particular place. More so, it was my job, teaching, that seemed tied to a place. I need a full-time job, and for now, while adjunct works for me (while I finish my school), I need that tenure-track position to be settled permanently. This means that I will be settled some place based solely on the availability of good work.

Right now, I teach adjunct at multiple campus, but one of those schools is online through Regent University. I have believed for the past year that an online teaching position would be best for me. First of all, it would allow me to stay at home and rest (physically rest). Second, it would facilitate caring for my parents as they age and need more day-to-day care. Third, it would offer maximum flexibility so that I could travel as the Lord leads me. Last, it would make it possible for me to live anywhere in the USA without worry about having a full-time job. I pretty much convinced myself that teaching online was the Lord’s will for me, and that He would provide a full-time teaching position very soon.

In my planning for my future, I also came to see that for me to have the best retirement, I would need to teach full-time (salary and benefits) and part-time (adjunct) so that I could earn extra money to be set aside for a “rainy day.” I teach at two online schools now, so the idea that I could just stay on as adjunct and teach a couple classes each semester to earn extra cash seemed doable. Then, I started to think that if I taught online as my primary source of income, I could teach on campus like I do now and earn a nice “chunk of change.” In truth, if I were able to remain at GCU and teach these very large seminar classes, I could make excellent secondary income. However, I would need that full-time teaching position for salary, benefits, and 401k to make this whole plan workable.

Getting IT Straight

This morning, I spent some time in Bible study, and I read through Genesis 12, and the calling of Abraham. Then I read some sermon/devotions on the calling of Abraham as well as Watchman Nee’s short excerpt on this same passage. In all the various versions and devotions on this particular story, one thing is for sure: Abraham was called to venture out in faith. He was not given the details of his journey, but was simply told to trust God and to follow after His leading. In a similar way, I feel like my faith journey is moving along like Abraham’s. I have received a call to go and to teach and preach communication or to help the church learn how to communicate more effectively in this postmodern age. I have been trained to do this, and I have the knowledge and the skills to do it. The hard part has been to know “how” to do it as well as “where to do it.” I realize that I can do this work right where I am, but in tracking with Abraham’s story from Genesis, it seems that God decided to call Abraham out from his own people and send him to a new place, to a new land whereby God’s power and authority would be demonstrated. In a like vein, I feel that God is calling me out as well, to leave my home and my family, and to travel to some new place to do this work. It is not that God cannot do this work right here and now, but it is more so that He desires me to go, to be separated from my home, and to follow after Him, to depend on Him, to trust Him, to lead me, to guide me, and to provide for me.

I think this is why I have had such a strong desire to “go” over the past 10 years. I have felt it so strongly, but due to my circumstances and my situation, I was not able to go. Now, though, I am ready. I have all my responsibilities in order, so I am ready to go. I just need His provision, which will come when I step out in faith. I believe it. I feel it is so. I cannot have His provision unless I go where He is sending me. I must step out, I must go, and then He will provide for me.

As I ponder this today, I cannot help but think that this is what God does, I mean. This is how God leads His children on, how He causes them to develop strong roots, deep faith. I am called to go, and I have agreed to go. I have been set on a timeline, and that timeline is drawing to a close. Despite what seems reasonable and right in my own mind, I have to remember that God’s ways are not always clear to us, and as such, I may think I have it right when in fact, I am clearly off the mark.

 In Closing

I close out this post today with this thought in mind. I am to go regardless of how I am to get there. I am to follow the Lord, trust Him to provide, and be willing to let Him lead me and guide me — even when it doesn’t make a “whole lick of sense.” I am to follow. He is my Master, my Savior, my King — and I am His servant. I am to serve Him and serve others. I am to go. I am to leave what is comfortable, good, and known for that which is uncomfortable, possibly difficult and challenging, and unknown. I am to place my faith in my God, and I am to step out in that faith, as He leads, guides, and provides for me. Selah!

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