May 26, 2017

Making Some Changes

It is a lovely day here in Phoenix. The sun is shining, but it is not quite as hot as it has been the previous couple of days. The high today is supposed to be right around 90. I will take these summer lows any day of the week. Pretty soon, our day time highs will sit consistently at 105-110, and well, then there will be no relief until October! God is good, however, and I am thanking Him for this blessed day and the good, good life, He has given to me. Selah!

Today is Friday, by the way, and I think I am losing my mind. Not really, of course, but I sure do have my days out of order. I was texting my friend today and I seriously thought it was Saturday and NOT Friday. I am sure he thought I was crazy! The summer days just roll on by, and one by one, they pass without much fanfare. This is the first summer, I should mention, where I actually have no school work to do. I have no work! I am teaching summer classes, and while I do have "real teacher" work to do, I really have a very low-key, low-stress summer ahead of me. God be praised, I have such a good, good summer ahead of me!
Steps Toward Success

It is a good day, as I mentioned, and I am feeling well today. I didn't sleep well last night, however. I tossed and turned, and then I woke up around 3:30 and couldn't fall back to sleep at all. I tried, and I think I eventually drifted off around 5:30. I then woke up/fell back asleep twice. Needless to say, I feel sort of groggy this morning, and what is more, I just realized that it is almost noon, and well, I am still sitting here in my PJ's, LOLL!

The good news, despite the poor nights rest, is that I am actually feeling well. I mean, I am FEELING really well. I feel rested, well-rested, and by that I mean, I feel as if I have decompressed from my spring semester and my hard and very long push toward finishing my degree. God be praised, I accomplished one of the biggest goals imagined -- a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communications. I graduated! I still cannot believe that I am finished with my advanced studies. I still cannot fathom that I graduated with such high grades and such a great big BANG! God is so good, so very good to me! I thank Him today simply because He is good, and His goodness flows down from His merciful hand and soaks His children with good, good things -- blessings, favor, and most of all -- GRACE! He is good, so very good to me!

Today, my life is rock solid. I mean, it is ROCK SOLID. I feel confident that everything that is meant to be is in place. I have been praying over my job situation, and I think I finally am settled on this one path. I have waffled. I have vacillated. I have done the "salsa" back and forth now, and I think I am finally ready to receive His promised reward, His provision of good and practical work for my career. I have thought about this path for a long while, I have prayed over it, and I have considered many different possibilities, but in all things, I seem to come back to this one desire. I really desire to work for Regent University full-time. I cannot get this thought out of my head. I have asked the Lord to remove the desire should it not be His will. I have asked Him to help me accept my status as adjunct and to be happy with it. I have relented, agreed to stay put, to remain here in Phoenix, but the desire just doesn't seem to wane. I go to bed thinking about it, and I wake up thinking about it. Not like "pressing" thinking, but just like a lingering thought that this might be His will.

Furthermore, I have tried to let the desire go, to push it away from me, to embrace my life here and now, and to be CONTENT in all things. I think I am content. I mean, I feel like I am content. I am at peace, at rest, and there is this wonderful calmness in my life. I don't feel stressed, anxious or worried. I just feel like this is His desire. I have this sweet and happy feeling whenever I consider it. So today, I decided to embrace that feeling, just to let it linger with me. I am not going to talk myself out of it nor am I going to fixate on it. I am not going to "try to get my own way" and make something happen; rather, I am just going to let the desire grow as the Lord chooses it to grow. If He keeps me as adjunct, I am happy. If He opens a door for me to go there for a full-time position, then I will be happy. Either way, I am choosing to let the Lord LEAD ME, GUIDE ME, and PROVIDE FOR ME.

I read this quote online today: "When God gives you a desire, He will always give you peace about it." I thought about these words, and I have to say that I feel this way today. I have this desire, and I also have peace about the desire. What is more, I have this sense that what is done is done -- meaning -- that whatever the Lord intends to do in my life, He has already completed it. Thus, if I am to be hired full-time at some point, that process, that plan is already in place. It feels like everything is as they say, "a done deal;" yet, I don't have any confirmation about it. I haven't received an offer or even any interest toward moving me from one position to another. But, like I said, I have this great sense of peace about the whole possibility.

More so, I felt the Lord prompt me to check out jobs on the HigherEdJobs.com website. I did this yesterday afternoon, and as I expected, I saw nothing but adjunct work. There are full-time positions, of course, but none in AZ. I didn't see any online teaching positions that were full-time either. In short, I believe that the job I am to have, to be offered, has already been given to me. It is just a matter of timing. I have asked the Lord if I should be looking for work, and He has said, "no." I have asked if I should be praying for work, and He has told me to wait. Therefore, I believe that in all truth, I am to be patient while He brings His desired end to pass. He has given me the desires of my heart, and I believe that He will continue to do so.

Moreover, I have asked Him to give me His desires -- to supplant my desires with those of His heart -- so that in all things my mind, my body, and my spirit will be conformed to His will for my life. I believe Psalm 37:4-5 as my life verse. I have taken this verse to heart, and I have believed that it is possible to receive the very desires of one's heart as a reward for making God their delight. I also believe Psalm 20:4, which says, "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." In both of these verses, I have found truth. The key, of course, is to make the Lord your all, to surrender everything to Him -- including -- all your desires, dreams, wants, and yes, needs. If you make the Lord your everything -- really everything -- something wonderful happens to you. The Lord becomes an intimate companion, and through His indwelling Holy Spirit, not only do you experience transformation toward glory (an ongoing process -- changed from one instant to another -- to our final glory); but also, you experience blessings, favor, and sweet reward. I can bear testimony to this fact that once I began this faith walk, this deeper committed and most holy walk, I began to be transformed. I began to have my mind changed from where everything revolved around me to where everything revolved around Him. 

In addition, as my thoughts changed, so did my behavior. I began to change outwardly, and my motivation and aspirations shifted from me-centered to God-centered to other-centered. I have experienced renewal, healing, and an abrupt turn around to where everything I do now is focused on one thing, and that is to bring God glory. I desire to worship the Lord, and as the Puritan and reformed catechism says, "enjoy Him forever!" He has become my delight, and my desires have been shaped to represent His ideas, wants, and plans for me. 

In every area of my life, I have experienced transformation, and because of His goodness, I am the recipient of His favor and His grace. Please let it be known -- I have done nothing to warrant His goodness in my life. I have done nothing except surrender to His powerful will, and to His most blessed way. He has done everything, and my recent achievement of graduating with my PhD was simply a demonstration of His ability to take a poorly educated and struggling student (with learning disabilities) and create an amazing outcome. He did this for me, through me, and He allowed me to partner with Him as I experienced such great joy and success. Truly, my PhD was a walk in Psalm 20. The Lord gave me good success!
Learning to Let Go

As I have walked with the Lord these past few years, I have learned the hard lesson of letting things go. I think back to when I first started my PhD program, and frankly, I was a wobbly mess. I had just come through a difficult marital crisis. I was separated from my husband, but I was not divorced. I had been working in corporate business, and I had good success in each job I held. I wasn't very happy back then. In fact, I would say I was a frantic mess. My life was improving steadily, and I was earning more income, but I was so unsure of my future. I had an inkling of what the Lord wanted for my life, but mostly I was in this desperate state of learning to trust Him for my needs. I had never lived on my own before. I never had to be responsible for my own life. More so, I never had to be responsible for anyone's life, and back then, I was the sole practical provider for my son (then aged 20). I had all these desires, all these dreams, and I was living in this transitory way. I had my own place, praise be to God, but I was so frantic as to how I would do a PhD and work full-time. I had high hopes for completing my degree and becoming a professor, but at the time, I was working as an analyst, and I had no way of moving from one field into the teaching profession.

It didn't take long, however, before I was put into a position whereby I had to make a major life change decision. I had to decide whether to stay put at CVS Caremark or trust the Lord for His provision as an Instructional Assistant at GCU. The latter job was hourly and part-time, but it was an open doorway to teaching Adjunct, and well, it just landed in my lap one day in July of 2013. I was hired on the spot, and before I knew it, I was contracted to assist in three English classes. I had no clue that this was how the Lord intended to position me as faculty. I had no clue that this was how He would provide work to me -- while in school -- and in order for me to do well in my studies. Yet, this is what He did.

I was a mess, of course, and it took me several years before I learned to relax and let Him provide for me. I had to trust Him with everything -- every bill, every need, and every trip back to VA -- all on my meager adjunct pay. He did it, praise be to God, He made it possible for me. After three years of hard study, the Lord eventually opened enough contracts so that I could start to teach "full-time" in combination. I was able to make enough money in order to live more comfortably. I pushed work to the limits as I attempted to study and pass my exams, begin and later complete my dissertation. In all things, the Lord enabled me to complete every single part of my program with ease. Yes, with ease. I did it all without sinking below the water line. In truth, I dipped many times, but He was always there for me, always ready to lift my head up so I could breathe. Now, I am graduated. I am still an adjunct instructor, but I believe that my time as part-time teacher is ready to be replaced with a job offer for full-time professor work. Yes, I believe my time has come.

Learning how to let go of the process was difficult for me. Learning how to rest in the Lord was challenging, but in the end, I came to realize that the only way forward was to let go of everything I held onto and use both of my hands take hold of the Lord and His hand of blessing and favor. I had to do that "movie thing" whereby the person dangling and holding on to the roots has to let go and use both hands to grab onto their rescuer. This was metaphorically a picture of my life. I was holding onto the Lord with one hand while I still grasped at earthly roots with the other. I got to the place where the Lord said to me, "Carol, you have to trust me now. You have to let go and take hold of me with both hands." I listened, and well, I was rescued. I was lifted from my panicked and anxious state, and I was able to be lifted to this wonderful place of security.

Now, I am in that same place, safe and sound. But, as things would turn out, the Lord is asking me to hold onto Him with both hands as He moves me from where I am now to where He wants me to be tomorrow. I have let go of all earthly wants, needs, and desires, and I have embraced the Lord fully so as to be moved by Him according to His most blessed will and plan.

What This Means for Me Today

The reality is simply this -- I am ready now to go where He sends me. I am ready to believe Him, to trust Him, and to completely rely on Him for every single need. He is my Jehovah-Jireh, and as such, He is my PROVIDER. I no longer look to my own hand, my job, my paycheck or savings account. Rather, I look to the Lord for the provision of every single need in my life. He knows what I need today, and He knows what I will need tomorrow. If He delights in providing that full-time job for me in VA, then I know with confidence that He will make a way for me to get there. He will care for all my needs here and there, and He will make a path for me to follow. I will move with His help, His preparation, and His provision. I will be settled where He has provided, and my life will be good -- not because of His blessings (though they are excellent) -- but good because He is GOOD to me. Yes, my life will be good simply because God is good, and He only gives good things to His children. Selah!
In Closing

As I close this post today, I am reminded of the path I have been on and how hard it was to learn how to let go and let God lead me. I cherish those experiences because in each one, I grew tremendously. I grew up in my faith, and as a result, I learned that I could depend on Him for everything. Not once did I lack any portion. Not once did my bread bowl or kneading basket fall empty. He provided for me. He gave me everything I needed to be successful, and I have no doubt in my mind that He will continue to do this for me as long as I keep Him as my DELIGHT.

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