April 10, 2017

Holy Week Preparations

It is April 10, 2017, and it is a good Monday. I am at home this morning, getting ready for my afternoon classes, and praise be to God, I am feeling well. I slept well for most of the night, but I struggled some early on to fall asleep. Thankfully, I did drift off after midnight, and other than a quick trip to the bathroom around 3 a.m., I was able to get solid shut-eye for the majority of the night. It is a lovely day here in Phoenix. The skies are clear and blue. The air temperature is around 66 right now, but the afternoon should warm up to the mid-80s. It is a beautiful day to be out and about on campus. I am loving my spring schedule, simply for the fact that I get to sit and rest now, but later, I will be able to be outside and walking around the lovely campus of Grand Canyon University. God is good to me, so very good to me, and I thank Him this good day for His provision of teaching contracts.

As I sit here today, I am amazed at the Lord’s goodness toward me. I do not deserve His grace. I do not deserve His faithful provision. I have done nothing to warrant His goodness toward me, but I am thankful for it. He has made it possible for me to have a good life, and while I worry some about my soon to be due student loans (oh my goodness!), I know that the Lord has a plan for me to pay back the loans, and to be free from that debt burden. Sometimes I think that my life is all messed up. I mean, I lack full-time security (a job), and I don’t even own my own house or live on my own, for that matter. Yet, here I am still doing what I think the Lord has called me to do.

Of course, when I put it all in perspective, when I think about what God has done for me, I have to believe that He has a plan to get me through, to make a good quality life for me. Right now, I have to focus on what is on my plate and not look too far into the future. If I focus on the future, I will become depressed. I will only see the need, and not the daily manna that the Lord provides for me today. You see, in the future I see the balloon payment — the big number attached to my student loans — and this number scares me.

Yet, day in and day out, I see the great provision of the Lord. I see the manna that falls to the ground to meet my daily needs. I cannot worry about 10-20 or even 30 years in the future. I know that I must take heed of the future, as that is what a wise investor would do, but I cannot focus on what is an unclear path at this point in time. It would be like trying to see around a mountain curve. The path I am on is unclear, and while I know that this path will weave back and forth and take me around that curve soon, I cannot see around it from my vantage point today. Thus, I must focus on what I can see clearly in front of me. I must trust that the path is secure on the other side of the mountain. I must keep on watching the path where I walk today, and in time, in His good time, He will bring me to a clearer vantage point and then I will know what I must do or where I must go. He will take care of me. I have a plan, and I am well covered by His good, good grace.

Resting In His Sufficiency

In reflection, I am in this unusual spot. I mean, I have a good life, a good plan for my future, yet there is such uncertainty down the road. For example, right now, I have contracts for summer and fall that well provide for me. I am in a good place financially. But, these contracts are tenuous. They could disappear in a snap, should the schools no longer need my services. I am not guaranteed employment, and without a steady job, my life would quickly dissolve into a mass panic attack. Yet, the Lord has graciously provided for me since I started on this leg of my faith journey. He made this way possible, and for the past four years, He has consistently provided enough income for me to live on. This means, of course, that despite my student loan debt, the Lord has made a way for me to pay my bills, and to live quite comfortably. I need a permanent solution now, and I need to see the way out of the debt. I can see how to manage my money, how to live modestly, etc., but I cannot see how to erase my loan debt — at the least — not anytime soon. More so, I owe a lot of money, and without steady work, I will not be able to pay my loans back. I am confident that I will have a job soon — one full-time job — and with that job, I will have enough income to live on and make those pesky, yet required payments.

Most days, I don’t even think about my loans. But I know they will come due in 6 months from now, so that means, I will need to have a plan of action in place to deal with them. My hope is for the Lord to help me negotiate a realistic payment plan, and then for His provision to meet that need so I can be faithful to discharge my loans over the next 4-5 years. I believe all things are possible with God, and that even student loan debt is not impossible for Him to manage. I trusted Him in this path, in this way, in this belief that I needed to do schooling for His work, so in some ways, these loans are His responsibility. I took them out, for sure; but the Lord was the One whom I believe was calling me to go back to school to get my PhD. Thus, the degree is His call, and with that call, I believe the Lord will provide a way for me to pay the loans back.

Therefore, today, while I panic some over the large amount owed, I realize that I have two choices in my approach. One is to panic, to cry out to the Lord, and to look to my own hand for deliverance; or I could place my entire faith and hope in the Lord for His rescue and deliverance. My choice is to trust the Lord. I am looking to His hand of deliverance, and not my own, and in doing so, I take my rest. I am where I am today because I believe the Lord called me to pursue my higher education at Regent University. What is more is the fact that I believe my education was not simply to give me a fancy degree, a title, or a good job. No, my education was to prepare me for His work, and that work is to  help the Church communicate faith more effectively to this postmodern era. Thus, the work I do this day, teaching and such, is practical good work. I love my job. I don’t want to do any other work. More so, I love the idea of doing this spiritual ministry — communications in the church — and I love my research interests (as the Lord has guided me in them). So for all purposes, practical and spiritual, I believe that my advanced education was for one outcome only, and that was to do His work. I sit here today, I reflect on this matter, and I know that even though I don’t see a way out, per se — my Lord can see far beyond my current place on this path of His choosing. I know that I must stop trying to figure it out, and I must rest in His ability to organize, move, restructure, and resolve all these details so they fit within His grand plan and beautiful tapestry of ministry in and through my life.

In Closing

I am sitting here today, thinking about the Lord and His plan for my life. I am wondering how things will turn out, and for a moment, I remembered that I felt this exact same way almost 7 years ago when I first believed the Lord was asking me to trust Him with school. I had applied to Mercy, but I hadn’t heard back from them as to my acceptance. I was panicked over the thought of returning to school, over the path, over the demands, etc. I was worried whether I could even attend school, let alone graduate. Then, not 18 months later, I was in the same panicked situation when I had to move from my shared home to my first apartment. I had to move me, my son, and my two cats all on my own. I left my marriage, my home, and I stepped out in faith to begin a new life. Then, in two years time, I moved again. This time into my parents rental house where I have been now for four years. What is more is the fact that at this same time, I was working in a different job, but starting my doctoral program. I had no knowledge of what would happen to me, how I would do it all — work full-time and study — and pay my bills. I was panicked through and through, yet the Lord prevailed and He provided for me. Now, I am in this same place again, a place of trust. I have the degree, I have the job, and I am positioned to be promoted to full-time faculty soon (I believe it is so). Yet, I am worried about the future, about what will be. My Lord has steadily, faithfully, and completely provided each time I found myself in this place of utter dependency. He has opened a door that led me to the next step in His merciful plan. This tells me that I am simply on a stair-step — waiting for permission — to take the next step, the next step in His marvelous and masterful plan for my life.

For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, 
‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 Amplified

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