October 20, 2016

Moving and More Moving

It is a blessed Thursday, and I am sitting here at my computer thinking about how wonderful my life is at the moment. Yes, I am choosing to be thankful today. This week has been a difficult one, and here it is now Thursday, and well, the week is almost behind me. I was thinking about this fact today, how I am stressed, struggling to manage my overwhelming schedule, and feeling so unwell. I thought to myself, "Carol, if the Lord felt that this work was too much for you to handle, He wouldn't have given it to you." Then I thought about His abilities and mine, and I realized that when I get to that point where I can no longer do what is being asked of me, I have to remember to look up and wait for His help. The Word says it this way in Isaiah 40:31 KJV:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I started to think about this fact, how whenever I feel faint or weary, the Lord expects me to look to Him for help. Early this morning, I prayed for strength, and I prayed for the ability to handle my growing to-do list AND to complete all the tasks assigned to me. I was thinking how often I would crumble beneath the weight, cry out to the Lord, and say, "Lord, I cannot do this work! Take this from me!" Today, though, I heard myself say, "Lord, this weight is too heavy -- help me to carry it!" I thought about those words -- help me to carry it -- and I realized that too often we want the Lord to lift our burdens off of us completely, to release us, and to let us walk away from our problems. I know that the work that has been assigned to me is of His doing, thus I cannot walk away from it. I need His help to complete it. I guess I had one of those epiphany moments when I realized that in the past, I would have cried, stomped my feet, and begged the Lord to relieve me of the burden; but today, I am willing to endure the hardship, the trial, and the difficulty so long as He is the One who is managing my life. I guess you could say it is all in your perspective, praise be to God, and my perspective has been altered to shift the focus from my needs, wants and desires, to His overarching will and plans for my life. Yes, I have come to see that His way is blessed. His way is filled with peace, joy, satisfaction -- but also -- His way is filled with hardship, trial and difficulty. The good news in all of this realization is that our Lord has said to us in Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT:

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

And I take comfort in the words of Paul as reminds me in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NLT), "God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful." God will see to it, He will provide for me, and He will see me through the ups, the downs, and all the various in betweens until that day when I am engulfed in His marvelous presence. He is good, so very, very good to me! Selah!

Planning for Today

It is a good day, therefore, to be at home, to be at rest, and to be thinking about the good things the Lord has in store for me. I woke up feeling better (hurrah), and I am finally feeling as though I have rested some. I’ve been dragging back and forth to class the past couple days, and today, I finally feel like my old self again.

Yesterday, was such a bear. I mean it. My students sensed it, and I struggled to make it through my classes. I put on my best “game face” possible, but even still, I was just worn out. I felt so beaten down, and the thought of having to teach more classes, well, just sent me over the edge. I cried out to the Lord while driving home from work, and I said to Him, “Lord, I am losing my mind! I can barely put together a coherent sentence these days!” It was true, I mean it. I was struggling all day yesterday to even make sense. I think this happens when your brain is on overload. I would say things or thoughts would blurt out of my mouth — weird thoughts — and I found myself struggling to keep my composure. I have to tell you that I have never experienced that before, so it scared me some. I just felt words come out of my mouth, and in doing so, I startled myself. I cannot really explain it, but after a short while, I regained my composure and then I felt better. I wondered about it all day long, wondered how I could lose control like that, and how I could function as a teacher if my brain was so fried that I couldn’t even sound intelligent.

Praise be to God, the good news is that whatever was wearing me down passed, and today, I feel better. I really do feel much, much better. Still, I think about my limits, and how yesterday, I felt so close to my limit in every area. I simply felt like I couldn’t go on. I don’t mean like in a fatalistic sense or like when a person is depressed and considers suicide. No, it was more like when you’ve run a race and you are out of breath. Your legs ache, your body shuts down, and you stand there and you know you cannot take one more step. This is how I felt — like I was physically, mentally, emotionally — at my limit. I had breached the threshold and I couldn’t go on.

In hindsight, I am guessing that I learned a mighty lesson from the Lord. I tested my boundaries, and I found out that I was right at the edge of the chasm, the gulf between what I can do and what He must do. I was standing there, looking over this gulf, and I realized that my path was leading me into “impossible” territory. No way, no how, could I breach this gap without some help, without His help. And, praise be to God, it was in that moment when I knew that I was, once again, trying to control everything, carrying all my little boxes around with me in order to keep my ship afloat. I laid them all down at His feet, and I willingly left them behind me. I knew in an instant that the only way to cross over that gap was to let my Lord carry me — just me — no baggage, no carry-on’s, no personal collections. I had to leave everything I care about, desire, want, and yes, need — behind me. I had to trust Him enough to say, “Lord, I will go it alone with you. I will leave all of these people, places, and personal things behind me. I will trust you to care for me, to provide for me, and to safely deliver me to my final destination.” It was difficult, but I was so unwell, so tired, so beaten down by the weight, the worry, and the war (between me and my enemy). I really was so very tired, so very, very tired.

The Lord delivered on His word to me. He promised me protection and provision, and in good form, He delivered what I needed most. He gave me blessed rest. He helped me survive my hard day, and then gave me a peaceful night to sleep well, to be restored. In all, while I am still exhausted, I feel so much better. I am giving my Lord all the praise this good, good day because He alone deserves it. He alone is worthy to be praised! Selah!

Making a Go Alone

It is a curious thought, but I have come to believe that the Lord intends to send me on this journey alone. The more I think about my life, the more I see the reality of my path. This path, the path the Lord has set me on, is a difficult one. It is a path that few people can endure. I don’t mean to say that I am special or more able to handle the hardship, etc., I simply mean that this path is challenging, and I realize that I have been uniquely created for it. Let me explain…

Yesterday, I had that epiphany moment when I realized that I had come to a place where the only way to cross over or continue on the path was to allow the Lord to carry me. I realized that I couldn’t carry anyone or anything with me. I had to leave everything I loved, cared for, wanted and desired behind me. I had to walk on singly, trusting the Lord, relying on the Lord, and abiding in the Lord, and that in order for me to do what He was asking me to do, I had to let go of all the “comforts” I crave. I had to walk on without my family, my son, my home, and all the “things” that I tend to clutch when I feel threatened or unwell. I had to cling to the Lord alone, and in that way, I had to place all my faith in His abilities. I had to acknowledge that I can do nothing in and of myself, but that any work that is produced is now done so through His ability alone. I had to lay down my pride of self, my intense esteem, and my view that sees me as smart, intelligent, and scholarly. I had to accept His hand of blessing, His offer of help, and in doing so, I had to accept the cost that is associated with it.

As I process this all, and I begin to think about my future, I realize more now than ever, that my future is not about teaching, working, living — rather — my future is about His work. Everything I do from this moment forward is not about me. Everything I think, I consider, I hope for or even dream, is all about the fulfillment of His will. I want nothing but His work, and in this way, I am no longer working to support myself, to satisfy my needs, or even to bring me solace. I work unto the Lord, and in this way, I agree with Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV), “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I do not boast, rather I simply say that at this point in time, I feel like everything I am doing from teaching literature and composition courses to working on my dissertation to caring for my parents to mentoring my son — is all about one thing — and that is bringing praise, honor, and glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  He alone is worthy to receive our praise, and He alone is able to bear our burdens, to carry the weight of our sorrows, and to create within us the discipline, the determination, and the dedication to do this work, His work. He will most certainly bring all the good work He has started in us to completion. He is faithful — He will complete His task — praise be to God! He will do it. He is the GREAT I AM.

My next steps are before me, though I don’t really know where I am going now. I sense the movement, but since He is carrying me forward, I cannot see the ground beneath me. I must trust Him, believe in Him, and know that He will never let me fall. He has me so well-covered, and in this way, my rest and my security are 100% in His hand. The plans that I have for today include spending time preparing for my dissertation proposal defense on Monday, and of course, preparing for my Survey of Western Literature class that also begins on Monday. I will be teaching two large courses at Regent University, with almost 50 students, and frankly, that thought alone overwhelms me. I mean, I presently have 128 students on campus, so with an additional 50, I am looking at close to 180 students this semester. I’ve done it before, of course, but I wasn’t researching or writing a dissertation at the time. Still, if the Lord has seen fit to give me all these students, praise be to God, I will do my very best to help them, to teach them, and to guide them. He is my King, and He knows my ends. He knows what I can and cannot do, and I am resting in this knowledge now. I am no longer worrying about the work load. Rather, I am simply letting Him carry the weight of the workload. I will do the work, grade the papers, interact with students, teach the material — but He will bear the burden — and He will receive the praise for the outcome. He will receive the precious reward of a job “well done.” He is good, so very good to me. I do not deserve His grace or His mercy, but today, I am thankful for it. I am so thankful for His love, His presence, and His abiding comfort. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Selah!

In Closing

As I close out this post today, I marvel at His goodness toward me. I don’t deserve it. I am the least of His workers, and I am frail, fragile, and at times, fearful of my own shadow. Yet, He has called me forward. He has asked me to do this particular thing, to walk on alone, to trust Him to provide, and to look to Him for my security, my everything. I have made Him my heart’s delight. I have made my one desire be about Him and Him alone. I cast all things aside, all encumbrances in order to follow after my Lord and my Savior — my King! I don’t know what tomorrow brings or what my life will look like in 1, 5 or 10 years from now, but I do know that I will be right where I am today, settled, centered, and fixed upon His glorious grace. I will be His servant, His worker, His child — always seeking to please the Father — and always seeking to bring Him praise.

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