April 25, 2017

Wake Up Call

It is Tuesday, and today is my final “day off” for the semester. I know that sounds weird, but for the past couple years, I have reserved my Tuesdays and Thursdays during the fall and spring semesters as “work from home” days. It was on these days that I completed the majority of my studies in my doctoral program. I also used these days for grading student assignments. My Tuesdays and Thursdays at home were important to me. They functioned as rest days as well as work days, but the combination worked well simply because I was at home and not pressured to be any where in particular. Technically, today is my last work from home day because tomorrow, Wednesday, is the official end of the semester at GCU. This means that come Thursday, I will be “on summer vacation” from my campus-teaching duties. I will still have online classes to finish, but generally speaking, I will be in full-on vacation mode.

I have to say that despite the day off, I am not relaxed or at rest. In truth, I am feeling panicked and stressed, and those feelings are making this blessed day seem less than “blessed.” I am good, I mean. I am in a good place, and praise be to God, I have a good plan of attack, a good future set in front of me, and I am about to close out a very good, but hard, four years of work towards my lifetime goal of a PhD. I have finished strong, and I am ready to move on to my next goal. However, I am not 100% sure what that next goal is right now. I have some ideas, some thoughts on the matter, but really I am not sure where I am to go or what I am do to for the next year, two years, or five years of my life.

Today, I feel confused. Today, I feel out of sorts. Today, I feel like I need clarification from the Lord so that I know what path He wants me to follow (this one, of course). I need to know that I am right where I belong, and that the plans He has for my life, are coming to pass. I don’t need to do anything differently, go anywhere special, or plan anything at all; rather, I need to simply stand. I need to stay right where I am and wait on the Lord for His blessed clarification and confirmation.

I am thinking that the reason why I feel so confused today is simply because this is the end of the semester and there are tasks that must be done. Yet, I know I will accomplish everything on my plate, it is more so that I am panicked a bit over the details. I feel like I have lost my focus, and perhaps, I have shifted my line of sight somewhat and now I am off-kilter. This could explain why I feel the way I do. Perhaps I moved to the left, when I should have moved right. Or perhaps the Lord told me to stand still, and I didn’t listen and moved ever so slightly off His intended mark. I missed the mark, as they say in the “biz.” I didn’t step on the white X that He so clearly marked for me. I don’t know, but I feel like this is partly why I am struggling so this week.

Furthermore, I know that my graduation from Regent is important, and not just to me, but to the Lord’s work. This reason, in and of itself, could be why I feel so down. I mean, I know I must be commissioned for His work, and to fail to do so, would be displeasing to my Father in Heaven. Thus, I must go to Regent, go to the ceremony, and I must be dedicated and commissioned by my School and Faculty. It is non-negotiable. It must be done. My enemy doesn’t want me to do either thing because that would mean I was released to fulfill my mandate and my calling. Being commissioned is the first step in being empowered by the Holy Spirit to do His specific work, therefore, I must go and be commissioned.

As I consider all of these things, I realize that I am being harassed by my enemy. He is causing a great deal of confusion for me. I feel muddled in my head today. I feel like I have this oppressive little cloud surrounding me, and that with that cloudiness, my glasses/my vision is foggy. I need clarification. I need to be able to see my path clearly.

Lord, please help me this day to see my path, to know your will, and to feel confident that I am right where I am supposed to be.
Leaning On and Trusting in the Lord

So as I mentioned above, I am needing some clarification that I am right where I am supposed to be, and that despite my feelings of unwellness, I need some confirmation that the Lord has me so well covered this good, good day. In short, I need a wake-up call from the Lord.

Merriam-Webster defines a wake-up call as “a person or thing that causes people to become fully alert to an unsatisfactory situation and to take action to remedy it.” I am thinking that this is what I need today — some person or thing — to help me see what I need to do or what actions steps I need to make in order to get myself moving forward again. Yes, I need a wake-up call from the Lord. I need to hear His sweet voice tell me that everything will be okay, that my life is in good order, and that all my efforts, my hard work, and my faithfulness have not been for naught (as the saying goes). I need to know that my life matters, that it really, really matters.

I am normally the one who encourages others. I am normally the cheerleader who shouts out exhortations of “You can do it! The Lord has you in His hand! Trust Him!” Today, though, I need a good shout out. I need some measure, some communication, some—something to help me feel as if my hard work and effort to get my PhD has been worth it. I know this sounds crazy, but I actually feel so low today that I cannot imagine how I will pick myself back up. I need a boost of confirmation, encouragement, and simply affirmation that will help me scale the next mountain, lift that heavy burden, and yes, “Keep on, keeping on.” He is able. He is good. He is my Victor and Champion, and in Him I can do all things. I know this is true, but I need some simple motivation, inspiration, and good news to help me feel better.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says that we are trust in the Lord. We are to not lean on (or rely on) our own understanding, but rather we are to acknowledge the Lord as Sovereign and Wise. In this way, we shift our focus from our own faulty abilities, and we look to the One who is Perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise. We will find the answers we seek when we seek the Lord. The promise from Scripture is that  “if” we do this — trust, rely on, and acknowledge Him — then He (God) will make our paths go straight (as toward His ultimate goal for us). I believe this is true, and therefore, I know that whenever I feel confused, confounded, or simply concerned about my life, in general, I have shifted my focus from Him to me. I have changed my perspective, and unfortunately, from my perspective things tend to look hopeless and bleak. Yet, from His perspective, everything is always in clear focus. Thus, it is to my good, to my benefit to look up and to look away from my daily life. I am to look toward His glory, which is His coming again. I am to look toward His second coming, and to take heart and know that where I am today is right where the Father desires me to be — in His merciful, tender, and compassionate care. I may not be on the best footing, and the plans may be a bit wonky, but I am in His care, and He has hold of me. I can carry on simply with the knowledge that He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me.
Resting In and Yielding to His Provision

I guess what this means, all of this rambling, is that lately I have been fixated on my future. I have been so focused on what will be in a month, two months, or ten months, that I haven’t really taken any time to evaluate my progress thus far. I have simply had laser vision, and in this way, I have missed the forest because of all the trees. I feel as if the Lord is reminding me that despite my feelings, which wane, I have been blessed and favored over the course of the past 7-10 years. He has never once let me go, never once not provided for me, and never once said that it was up to me to “figure my life out.” Rather, the Lord has graciously provided good practical work, comfortable living spaces, and exciting career and educational goals for me to pursue. 

More so, He has opened doors for me that no man could have opened, and He has carefully ordered my steps so that I didn’t end up where I didn’t belong (or where He didn’t want me to belong). In short, my life, my entire life since my divorce was ordered, planned, and prepared for one thing and that was to prosper my way, to give me a future that was filled with blessed hope. My life went from bad to awful, but then in the midst of tragedy, His glorious light filled my darkness and showed me a way out. Yes, I received instruction on how to walk out of that dark and dank place, and with His merciful light shining brightly, I was able to see the path before me. I was able to see the path and once I trusted Him enough to be able to follow Him, I walked out of that darkness and into the beautiful sunshine that has been my life for the last dozen years.

In this way, the Lord opened the door to the cage that held me captive, and in doing so, He gave me permission to fly free from my self-imposed prison. It was in this open door that I first came to experience His forgiveness, and as I struggled to even walk through that door, I also heard Him promise me that He would help me, guide me, and provide for me. But, He said, I must trust Him. I must rely on Him. I must look to Him, and in doing so, He would show me the way to go.

I have come to this place of His mercy and grace, and every day, I give Him thanks for rescuing me from the hardships, the hardness, and the heartbreak that was my former life. Now, I have His blessing, His mercy, and His goodness, and day in and day out, I am not alone. He is with me. He is always with me, and He guides me, instructs me, and helps me to see possibilities where there seems to be no possible way. Luke 1:37 reminds us that with God all things are possible. We know that with man, many things are not possible, yet with God there are no limitations to His abilities. Thus, when we rest in and rely on Him, we open ourselves up to His provision, to His possibility. In this manner, we come to experience manifold blessings, opportunities that would not be available to us. We must rest in and yield to Him since He is the One who is providing and guiding us — and — we must resist the temptation to take hold of the reins and the desire to run our own way.

I have done this too many times to count, and unfortunately, I feel like I have done this again recently. I have attempted to “drive my own bus,” when the Lord is firmly in the driver’s seat. I have been that awful back-seat driver, telling Him what should and should be. Instead, I should have simply received His gracious provision, thanked Him for it, and let Him carry on. After all, He is Lord. He is King. He is God.

In closing, I realize that my feelings today are summed up in my own desire to determine my future. I have tried to “help” me make things come to pass. I should have waited as He instructed, so now I have this awful feeling of rushing the process. I should have simply let go, waited, and let the Lord do what He does best — show up and make miracles happen.

Heavenly Father, I admit that I tried to rush this process. I wanted to know where I would work, what type of job I would do, and even what kind of home I would live in. I have been pressuring you to reveal your will even though you said it would come to pass soon. I have tried to get you to relent, and in doing so, I have acted like a spoiled child who doesn’t get his or her way. I am sorry for my behavior, and I am sorry that I didn’t listen to your advice to simply rest in you completely. Now, I am miserable, and it is from my own hand and thoughts. I ask that you would forgive me from my sin of impatience, and restore to me your blessing and favor. I will wait. I will be patient. I will let you do what you need to do, and I will not look at the timing as being off or slow. I will wait, Lord. I will yield, submit, and patiently endure while you open the doors you desire to open. I ask this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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