December 17, 2016

Getting Down to Business

It is a good day here in sunny and cool, Phoenix. I woke up late, around 9:00 a.m., but I slept really well. I guess I was exhausted from my week because I went to bed around 9:30 p.m. last night, and I slept almost 12 hours. My body was so worn out. Well, that is not true. My mind was worn out more than my body. I think I was stressed to the point of being frazzled, so when I finished my grading and discussion posts for my online classes last night, my mind simply shut down. I crashed and I slept solidly the entire night. I needed it because I feel better today. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle my research, and praise be to God, today will be a good day, a very good day. I am anticipating that I will complete most, if not all, my work scheduled for this week, today. Yes, my prayer is to complete everything I need to do today so I can be ready to move to the next step on Monday. God is good to me, so very good to me, and I know that He has this dissertation-thing already wrapped up. I simply must walk through the steps, complete the tasks, and then let Him show me how to finish strong! Selah!

God is Able

This morning as I prayed over my day and my work, I realized that there is nothing I cannot do so long as it is His will. Thus, my research, my work on my dissertation, is part of His will, so that means that I can rest in His abilities to see me through to the end. As I was praying, I was reminded of Paul’s words to the Ephesians when he said in chapter 3, verses 20-21 (NIV),

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

This verse is packed with truth, and when we pull it apart, we can see several promises of God. 

First of all, we see that God is able to do “more” than what we ask or think (desire or want). He is able to do what “needs” doing, and that means that there is no second-guessing His power or authority, and consequently, we can rest in His ability to handle whatever situation or circumstance with which we are dealing. Second, there is this curious phrase, “According the power that works in us,” which suggests that there is a power at work inside of us to bring about the first part — God’s willingness to do more than what we ask. This says to me that this power is the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us and who being God in the Spirit, is able to bring to pass the aforementioned request. Lastly, the remaining phrase simply reminds us that whatever we ask of God, we are to remember that our requests should be formed for one purpose, and that is to bring Him glory and praise. Therefore, in plain language, I take from Paul’s words of encouragement the following:
  1. God is ABLE to do whatever ask Him to do for us
  2. The Holy Spirit's POWER accomplishes all tasks, requests, or needs
  3. God’s GLORY is the end result
It is with great humility that I submit my work, my research, to His power and authority this good, good day. I know I cannot do this work. I have tried to wrap my head around it, to plan it out, to scope it out, I mean. And, frankly, I still do not know what I am doing. I still do not see how I will do it or the steps I will take to do it. I simply am blinded by the work, the enormity of the task, and the responsibility placed on me. I am overwhelmed, and I am in awe of what I have accomplished this far in my program. I am at the end, the very end, and the threshold that stands before me must be crossed in order to finish and graduate. The last hurdle, the last remaining hurdle is so high, so impossibly high for me, yet I know that this is the work the Lord has asked me to do. 

Consequently, I trust in His abilities because what I face is a giant the size of Goliath. Yes, I face a giant, and I am armed with five smooth stones. My faith in God, and in His ability is what sustains me. I believe, without a doubt, that the work I do today, the work of a professor, a scholar, and a doctoral candidate is His work. I am where I am because I stepped out in faith back in March of 2010, and I trusted the Lord to provide a way for me to go back to school, to study English, and to become an English teacher. Then in 2012, after I graduated with my masters degree, I stepped out in faith again and trusted the Lord to provide a way for me to pursue advanced studies. In both cases, I couldn’t see the road before me nor could I envision how I would pay for school, let alone complete school and work full-time. I didn’t see a way — and what was before looked impossible, impassable — yet, I believed in my heart that if the Lord desired this of me, He would make a way. And, in the end, He did just that. He made a way for me.

As I stand here at this threshold, I see the biggest giant of my life standing before me. He is mean, angry, and intent on keeping me from passing by him. He has determined that I should fail, that I should “not pass go,” and that I should not graduate. All of this is because it is God’s will that I should pass, that I should graduate. I believe that my PhD has never been about teaching, and that while my advanced degree helps me secure a position, be settled as faculty, etc., the actual purpose of the degree was to prepare me, train me, and equip me for ministry. Thus, my work, all my efforts, have been for one outcome, and that outcome is to do His work, to bring Him praise, and to see that He is glorified as a result. Yes, I will enjoy the blessing of graduating with my peers, of finally wearing a doctor’s “puffy hat,” and of knowing that I scaled a mountain so high, a Mount Everest of sorts, and that through my hard work, diligence, and faithfulness to the task, I have overcome — I have succeeded. Yes, I will have all of that blessing to boot; but in my heart of hearts, my prayer is that He is honored through my efforts, and that His work, as significant as it is, will be completed, and He will receive all the praise and the glory because of it. This is my prayer. This has always been my prayer.

So today, I begin this magnificent work. Today, I stare that giant down, and as he confronts me, challenges me, and calls me names (failure, foolish, fearful), I know that what I hold,while small and insignificant in comparison, is enough. These five smooth stones coupled with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit is enough to bring this giant to his knees. I can vanquish my enemy by my faith in God alone. I need nothing more than my faith in His abilities to the work He has prepared, planned, and promised to me. He is able to do all things, and He is willing to do them, if only we ask Him to do it for us. On this good sunny day, I ask in Jesus’ Name, and in the power that lives within me, to do this work for His name, His praise, His honor, and His glory. Selah!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 1:3 (BSB)

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