November 22, 2016

The Call of Christ

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. Yes, there is a nip in the air, and while the sun is shining, it clearly "feels" like fall. In Arizona, that means cool and not cold. Nary a leaf is on the ground, but still, it is a nice change from our always sunny life.

I am home today, the second day of my fall break, and I am enjoying the freedom to do nothing special. In truth, I have a large to-do list, and my to-do list includes grading (a lot of grading) along with some work on my dissertation. I have planned my days this week to maximize my time, and praise be to God, my prayer is that I will complete every task on my list by the week's end. This is my plan, of course, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, I believe that the likelihood is strong that I will stay on track.

I am feeling better, praise be to God, and I think whatever has plagued me these past couple days has finally passed through my system. I didn't sleep well, but that was due to stress more so than my stomach bug. I feel good today, well rested, and ready to tackle my work. I am praying for a good day. I need to get a handle on my list, and I want to enjoy some of my week, if possible. In all, I know that the Lord has me well covered this good, good day. He is my King, and as such, He orders my day, provides for my well being, and covers me with His blessing and His grace. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

Phoenix is My Home

In other news, I am settling down to the fact that I may end up in Phoenix for a time. I don't have any confirmation on that point, but the past couple months have simply provided rationale for staying put for a short time past my May 2017 deadline. I am content in this regard since I know that whether I go or stay is 100% up to the Lord. I have let my desires go in this matter, and I have accepted this fact as truth. I am where I am because it is His will for me. This means that right now, right now, I am doing what He asks me to do. Thus, it is up to me to be faithful to the work He has provided. Until He moves me, as in physically moves me, all the planning, the wants, and the wishes, simply must remain as they are -- plans, wants and wishes. The Lord is the Director of my life, and as such, He calls the shots, and He makes the plans and promises for my future needs.

It has been a difficult road toward acceptance. I have wanted to leave Phoenix for so many years, but lately, the Lord has been helping me to see my reasons in wanting to go. At first, it was because I believed that I had made a mistake initially in coming here. I made a decision, a choice, and that choice proved fateful for my life, for my family, and now for my extended family (my parents, for example). Therefore, when I say that I am where I am for a reason, this is the crux of the statement. I am in Phoenix because of a decision I made back in 1996. Yes, 20 years ago on November 1, I moved with my then husband and my 3-year old son to this place because I believed it was going to be a saving move for our family. I left my family in San Jose, moved to this desert place, and instead of realizing great joy, thanksgiving, and a wonderful outcome, I have spent nearly all that time living in pain, suffering with dysfunctional family life, and ending up divorced, single, and all alone. My decision, my choice, didn't have a positive outcome. Instead, I suffered greatly as I realized my error. My strong desire to move was simply predicated on my hope of reversal of fortune. I wanted to take back my mistake, to have a "do over," but in all this time, the Lord has not relented. In many ways, I have had to "lay in that bed I made."

I blogged about fate and the choices we make on Sunday, and in this way, I realize that the decision I made was in haste and out of fear for my own safety and security. I thought I was doing what was best for my family, but in turn, I simply hastened the demise of my family, my marriage. There was no guarantee that the same outcome wouldn't have taken place in San Jose, and only the Lord knows what might have happened had we stayed there rather than move here. Yet, despite it all, what has happened, certainly did happen for a reason. And, in God's economy, that reason was to strengthen me, to develop me into this person I am today. I am strong. I am mighty, and I am resilient. Yes, what I intended for good, led to my harm. But God allowed it, and in the end, it produced goodness, great skill and ability, and a deepening of my faith. In all, my decision was faulty, but God used it to create within me my faith, my strength, and my confidence in Him and in His will for my life.

Secondly, I came to understand that my motivation toward moving to the "cold and the snow" was more about childhood fantasy than reality. I still have this desire and wish to relocate to some place cold. I miss the fall crunch and the slush of the snow. But, I also realize that my dreams, my fantasies of sort, are just that -- they are dreams and fantasies -- produced over the years while I was stuck living in a place I didn't want to live in. You see, I longed for the sweet memories of my childhood as a way to handle the difficult aspects of my adult life. I wasn't happy in Phoenix so I would dream about living in Ohio, Indiana or Illinois -- the places of my childhood -- where I was happy. I wanted that "do over" so badly, that for me, the only source of happiness was to go back in time to a place BEFORE all the unpleasantness began. In this way, I thought I was recreating a "happy place," but in truth, I was simply running away from the truth, hiding from it, and hoping that somehow the Lord would open a door to allow me to relive my happier days.

Third, I have wanted to move from Phoenix for financial gain, and while there is a strong possibility that the Lord will indeed move me, the fact remains that where He moves me, the outcome will not be to satisfy my financial needs. I have looked to places, to the east coast and other locations as "possible" places for good work. Now, I believe that the Lord intends to provide a full-time job soon, but the place is not dependent on where I live. More than likely, He will provide an online teaching position that will allow me to live anywhere in the USA. Thus, His choice has nothing to do with a job. It is more about His work, and where He wants me to be planted to do His work. Therefore, thinking about moving for work has not proved beneficial to me. I am where I am, and in this place, the Lord HAS PROVIDED good work to me.

Fourth, I have wanted to move from Phoenix in the hope that the Lord would prosper my relationship with my good friend, someone with whom I have come to cherish, respect, and enjoy as a companion. I have prayed over this outcome for over two years, yet the Lord has not relented. He has not moved me, physically, nor has He even provided a way for me to spend time with my friend to see if our relationship would develop and deepen. I have questioned His motives, asked and prayed over His decision, but He has not moved me forward. I have had to learn patience, to be content with what He has provided to me, and that has been difficult for me. I still do not know the outcome, but what I do believe is that sometimes the Lord tarries because of the "other people" involved. You see, the Lord must consider the needs of these other people as well as our needs. In short, sometimes the wait is for a reason predicated on the other person. The Lord knows this, and while we may not like it, there is nothing we can do but trust the Lord to work out the details according to His will for our life and the life of the other person.

Last, I have wanted to move from Phoenix to shorten my time here, to change my living situation with my parents. Yes, it is true -- I have wanted to be established, on my own -- and to be fully active in my own life. I am tired of sharing a home, and I am ready to decorate and live in my own place. Again, sometimes the Lord waits because of others, and in my case, this is clearly true. My son is set to graduate now in a year, so this means that he will not finish school in 2017, but rather, he will finish in 2018. My parents are struggling financially so to leave them is impossible at this time. They are not ready to move into an assisted living arrangement, but they may soon be ready to do so. This option is not possible here in Phoenix due to rising cost of care, so for now and the time being, we are together because it is the Lord's will for my life AND THEIR LIFE. I cannot shorten this time because He has determined it to be so. I must accept the fact that caring for my parents, this task so to speak, has been given to me and not to my brothers. Thus, I have to remain where I am to care for them until the Lord provides other arrangements. I must wait. I must be patient. He is in charge of their care, and I must trust in His provision. He is good. He knows what is best. I will be patient, and I will wait for His deliverance.

In all of this, I have come to accept the fact that when I agreed to follow the Lord, to do as He asked, and to "go where He sent me," I was in all honesty giving up my right to "choose." I was saying to Him that His timing, His knowledge, and His choice was best for my life, and even if I didn't agree or see the reality of His decision, I would honor it just the same. In this way, I gave up my right to my Lord, and over the past twenty or so years, I have to come to learn that in all matters, the Lord is always right. He does indeed know best, and that no matter the mistakes we made in the past or the mistakes we make in the "here and now" or in the future, the Lord is capable -- nay -- He is able to right all wrongs, reverse trends, and rescue us from our errors in judgment. The rub is that sometimes He uses our errors to prove us, to test us, to define us, and in that way, the outcome is according to His will despite our efforts to control or determine what we think is best or will be best. Sometimes, God does use our mistakes for His will and purpose. Sometimes He intervenes and stops mistakes before they happen. Sometimes He rescues us, redirects us so as to avoid the mistake all together. But, no matter what He does, it will always be for our good, for our best, and to bring about His will in our life.

I believe this is true. I know it is true. I am willing now to accept that the life I have lived, the good and the bad of it, whether my decision or that of another, has worked together for my good. I am the person I am today because of the collection of these elements, the composition of all these choices, and God has used them to produce in me the desires, the wants, and the abilities He has decided before the foundation of the earth, that I possess. Thus, no matter what I want, desire, or hope for, the Lord will is to be done and will be done. It will be so because I asked for it to be done. I asked, and He answered. He has been actively involved in my life, in the decisions, the choices, and the outcomes, but for the past 10 or so years, He has taken a far greater role in helping me see choices, to make wise decisions, and to trust Him as He leads, guides and provides for me. I have grown up in my faith, and now I make far fewer rash and hasty decisions. Now, I wait. I carefully analyze, and I remain steady and patient. He has full control of my life, thus to let go, as He asks me to do, simply means to let go of my desire to control the outcome, and to rest in His ability to guide me, lead me, and provide for me. Do I trust Him? Of course, I do. Am I perfect in that trust? No, I am not. I fail Him miserably. I fall on my face, and I often contradict His good advice. Yet, in all things, I know that His will is to be done, and this is what I want. Yes, I want His will to be done. Therefore, I relent, I let go, and I acknowledge that I have given my right to decide to Him. I apologize, and I honor our agreement made in covenant. I said I would trust Him, yield to Him, and allow Him to guide me. He promised in return to provide for me, to keep me safe, and to give to me a good life (safe, secure, comfortable). In all, He has kept His word to me. I have struggled with my part of the bargain. I sometimes wrestle with Him. He wins, of course, but I still try at times to get my own way.

Parting Thoughts

In closing, as I think about all of this truth, I realize that the process to realization has been hard won. It has taken years for me to accept this position, to understand submission in this way. I have come from the place where I believed submission was mandatory to a place where submission is voluntary. I have come to see the blessing in this relationship, with Him as Lord and me as servant. I have come to learn His gentle yoke, His gracious and comforting way. I have come to know and to recognize my Lord as Savior, Master, and now as King. It has taken time for me to move through these various phases of relationship, but now that I see Him as King Jesus, I realize my position of authority is limited. It is what has been given to me by my Sovereign Lord, and in this way, I do the work assigned by my Lord, the King, and I trust that everything I need is provided to me through His sovereign power, authority, and position. I truly am in this wonderful place whereby I see the value and the necessity of living in stewardship to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. It is not about obedience that is feudal in nature, it is about obedience that is born of graciousness and mercy. It is about seeing the Lord not just as my suffering and dying Savior, but as the RISEN AND EXALTED King. You see, He is no longer dead and laying in that tomb. No, He is risen. He sits at God's right hand. The King is exalted, and in His righteousness, His holiness, and His justice, He reigns. He reigns over every area of my life. I give my life to my Lord, my liege, and as His loyal servant, I am placed under His banner of protection and grace. He is the One I serve, and I do it with my whole heart. I do it willingly, and not out of force or coercion. I do it because of what He has done for me. I surrendered my life at the cross so many years ago, but I surrendered my heart to Him only 10 years ago. I made Him my Lord, and as a result, my life has taken a drastic and determined track back from where I was to the place where I am today -- from my own willful and stubborn life predicated on faulty and unwise decisions -- to His feet where I live, surrendered and in total fidelity to His desires, plans, and objectives. He has saved me, time and time again, and with His power and presence, I am ready to go out and bear His banner, His standard as He leads, guides, and provides for me. He is good to me, so very good to me. I give Him all praise, all honor, and all glory this good, good day! Selah!

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