March 27, 2017

Recouping and Readying for a New Start

So it is Monday. Yes, it is March 27, 2017, and that means it is the first Monday back after spring break. I am well-rested, despite some weird virus or bug I contracted late last week. I finally feel well, and thankfully, I had a fairly peaceful rest. I guess I am ready -- as much as possible -- to tackle my week ahead.

As I laid in bed this morning, I couldn't help but think about the fact that I have five more weeks of school left. Yes, I am on the big countdown to summer! Woohoo! This means that in a month, I will travel to VA for my graduation from Regent University. I will have my PhD conferred (hooray!) and I will be completely finished with my education. I am so excited about that thought, and I cannot wait to see my colleagues and peers who will be graduating with me. I am so ready to move on, and even though I am "technically" graduated, my degree hasn't posted yet. I don't have that transcript that shows "PhD" on it.

Still, the realization that my degree is finished, that all my hard work has paid off, and that I am really, really, really, "a doctor of philosophy" is starting to sink in. I mean, for the first few weeks, I just felt happy to have passed. I didn't get all excited or giddy. I am still not jumping for joy or shouting it out, but instead, I have this quite appreciation for what has taken place in my life. I guess you could say that I am contemplative about what the Lord has done in me and through me to bring me to this place in time. I am treasuring it up, thinking about it with awe and wonder, and of course, realizing that this glory and honor belongs to the Lord alone. I couldn't have even imagined this day, so I cannot take any credit for it. He made it happen. He said, "Trust me, Carol," and day by day as I trusted Him, He showed me that "all things are possible" (Luke 1:37).

Even today, I hear His voice whisper to me, "Trust me, Carol." I am struggling today, only in thinking about my next steps, this new start the Lord has in mind for me, and I am feeling unsure about the direction I am heading. I don't want to step outside His will, and I don't want to move in a way that is not 100% of His provision. I want to be patient. I want to wait for His leading, His guiding, and of course, His providing for each and every need. Still, I have this nagging sense that perhaps I have stepped ahead of Him in my rush to find work. Perhaps I have thought, "I've figured this out," when in truth, I really don't know what I am doing (sigh!)

He calls me to trust Him, and by that, He is asking me to remember all the times previously when I felt confused or confounded, when I felt as if the world was swirling much to fast for me, when I simply was overwhelmed, and when He stepped in to show me the way to go. It is this way today. He is saying "trust me, Carol, for I know the way," and despite my apprehension and feeling of being unwell (still a bit), I believe His word to me is true. I believe that (1) He does know what will be, and (2) He is trustworthy so it is in my best interest, my best judgment, to trust Him fully.
Bold Faith

Trust is such a difficult thing. The dictionary defines trust as "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something." In this way, my belief that God is reliable, that He has the ability and the strength to do what He is saying is part and parcel with my faith in Him. I believe He is able, more than able to do anything I can think of or ask for (Ephesians 3:20), and in this way, my faith rests in His nature more so than in my own thoughts or feelings. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb so to speak, and I am going to say that because I believe God is calling me to do big things, big bold things, I have to start activating my big, bold faith. This is to say that I cannot do big things with wimpy faith. I must do big things with big faith.

In Him and through faith in Him we may enter
God's presence with boldness and confidence (Ephesians 3:12 BSB)

Big BOLD faith. What a conundrum, I mean. How can one have big faith? I believe that God gives us everything we need to accomplish His will, thus if He is calling us to do big things, He will equip us with everything necessary to do those big things. He will give us bold faith when we need bold faith. He will give us strength when we need it most. Thus, today, if the Lord is calling me to trust Him for big, bold new steps and starts, then I have to believe that He will also provide the faith I need to trust Him completely.

I am thinking today that there are several areas in which I need to exercise -- to put on -- that big, bold faith. The first is with my situation here at home. I am feeling so ready for summer vacation, yet the thought of summer always gets me down. First off, summers are my dry season, financially speaking. I love my summers off, but without income coming in, I am stretched to the bone, so to speak. In truth, I need about $8K to cover my summer, to pay all my bills, and to keep my little ship afloat ($2K for the four months between pay periods). I have saved some this year, praise be to God, but I still have this nagging worry -- doubt, really -- that something will fall out, and that somehow my reserve will run dry. Secondly, the care of my parents, their needs, as well as the care of my son, and his needs, is always on my mind. Without full-time work to ensure I can be well-covered, my thoughts run to all the possible "what if's" that could happen. I know this should be, but it happens to me sometimes. I just start plotting, and then, boom! My faith is dinged by waves of doubt.

My future is secure. I am assured of it. I know my God has me well-covered. He has a great plan for me, and as such, His will is coming pass daily. I am in this very good place. This wonderful place, and as such, I am able to begin to think about other things -- outside of school and work -- and that excites me. For example, I am beginning to think about my career, opportunities for me to expand my territory, ways for me to grow as a researcher and a scholar. More so, I am thinking about travel opportunities, trips for visits and vacation as well as trips for conference presentations. I am excited to think about the plans the Lord has for my life -- after I graduate -- and after I am settled in a full-time faculty position. Until then, however, I am relying on Him to help me trust, to help me engage my faith, my belief, and to stand firm against the assault of my enemy. My enemy wants to sink me, to cause me to doubt, to stir up thoughts and feelings that will bring on fear. I will not allow it. I will stand against my enemy, and I will trust my Lord, my Savior, my King Jesus, for the victory. He has overcome, and with His strength, His power, and His might, I too, will overcome. He alone is victorious, but through His blood and His grace, I am able to be victorious as well.
In Closing

As I close out this blog post today, I realize that my faith is not dependent on my own initiative. This is not about willing or the will; rather it is about trusting, believing, acknowledging and then resting in the One whose character, nature, and power is clearly expressed and seen in the heavens and on earth. Yes, my faith doesn't rest in my abilities; my faith rests solely in His.

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