June 5, 2017

Fear of the Anakin

Good morning, World! It is a beautiful Monday morning here in sunny and very warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, but the air temperature is warming up quickly. Our high today should hit 106, which is pretty much normal for June. I am enjoying the warm temperatures from inside my air conditioned space, but part of me longs to be able to do things outside. I really would love to go on hikes, neighborhood walks or just visit some new places. I am sure I can find some places to visit this summer that are in Phoenix, but truthfully, I think I have seen everything since I have lived here for 20 years. Now, I am ready for some change, and I feel the need to get out and sight see some. I just don’t know where I can go to sight see — and not — be overcome by the sun and the heat. Sigh!

In other news, today begins Week 4 of my 6-week summer class at ASU. I am in a good place with my students on this campus, and for the most part, I feel like I can continue to move forward now and focus on gearing up for my Regent classes that are set to begin on June 19. I will be gone all next week, so this week, I have video welcomes to create, power points to add, etc. I really would like to be ready before I leave for Indiana next week. I love, love, love Regent, and this is the first time I will be teaching English 102. I am excited to tackle a new course, but I want to be prepared, and that means getting a head start so I am ready to begin come Monday morning, June 19. God is good to me. He has given me two summer classes at Regent, and along with my one summer course at ASU, I am doing really well financially. This is the first summer where I have more money than I need. He is good to me, so very good to me!
Lessons Learned

Yesterday was a great day for me. I spent the morning at home, as I blogged, simply because I wasn’t feeling very well. I watched my church online, and I had the awesome pleasure of learning some amazing lessons under guest pastor, Brian Kruckenberg. Pastor Kruckenberg hails from New City Church here in Phoenix, and yesterday he delivered a deep-heartfelt message that really resonated with my particular life situation. Our regular Pastor is on summer sabbatical. He is off the entire summer, so we have a series of guest Pastors who fill in for him. Summers are fun at SBC because you just never know what you are going to get, and the pastors each come with a special message for us. I am sure it is all planned out, but really it seems like they show up, preach the Word, and hit a home run on some special topic, theme, or personal need.

In yesterday’s message, Pastor Brian gave a message on Deuteronomy 1. He walked the congregation through this chapter, and while not doing a “line upon line” approach, he pretty much preached on the entire context and history of this passage in the Old Testament. His message dealt with issues of fear, fear of following God, surrendering to God, and letting God lead, guide, and provide for us. He spoke passionately about mission, ministry, and personal calling. His message appealed to everyone in the congregation — to those considering spiritual movement (a deeper faith walk) — and to those like me who are thinking that God may be calling us to physical movement (relocating for a job or a ministry). In his sermon, he reminded the congregation about three things:

  1. Who we are in Christ
  2. Where we came from before Christ
  3. The goodness and faithfulness of God

At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about his teaching style. It was a bit rammed and stuffed, but once he got into the Word, oh my goodness! It was like the Spirit began flowing and he just delivered a powerful and important message that rang out, really rang out. I wondered what the congregation thought, but since I was just watching online, I could only experience the moment alone and in my room. I was cut to the core, really brought to tears (in a good way), and in the end, I found liberation and freedom from all the worrying, doubting, and just vacillating that I have experienced over the past 7 years.

As I listened to his sermon, I felt as if he was speaking right to my heart. I guess I should back up a little bit to the previous two days and explain my situation for context. It was last week sometime when I asked the Lord to clarify, to help me comprehend, and to help me become free from confusion surrounding this whole “job,” “moving,” and “ministry” conundrum I have struggled with over the past several years. I was tired of going back and forth, analyzing if I was to go or stay. I have blogged about my plans, how I really have two ways to go: stay put and remain in Phoenix or go wherever a job opens up for me. I have tried to rationalize staying put and in many ways, it makes sense to me. However, logically it falls short. My life is not complete here. I have no permanent work, and the cost of living is rather high. I can make ends meet as I am now, and I am confident the Lord will provide for me, but staying here simply doesn’t appear to be the best option for me (and it hasn’t for a long while). Moving, on the other hand, holds out lots of opportunity, but without a job to take me from here to there, I really don’t have any reason to leave Phoenix. Yet, I feel the Lord saying that I am to go, but going and moving are tough for me. I struggle with the whole thought of moving to an unknown place and living and working in unknown situations. Thus, I have waffled. One day I am content to remain; then the next, I feel like I am to go elsewhere. I rationalize, I try to figure it out, and in the end, I just come up short with this feeling like something is not quite right, just off the mark, as though I am missing the point.

So, as I mentioned above, I asked the Lord to clarify, to remind me, to help me see why I do what I do, and then to really provide confirmation to me so I would know what to do. I, of course, expected that He would provide a job to me and that with a job offer, well, the answer would be known. Loud and clear, I mean. No questions asked. He didn’t do that, of course, and instead, He simply sent me to church to hear a message on Moses and the Children of Israel as they were making ready to enter the promised land. Yes, the whole wilderness experience, but rather than preach on how the Israelites got into the wilderness, this time, the message was on the choice they made to get out of the wilderness.

In short, Pastor Brian nailed my issue about moving, and he pretty much identified my whole experience (waffling, wanting to stay, not sure about going forward) in a nutshell. Yes, in about 40 minutes of solid biblical teaching, I had my confirmation. I had closure. I had the answer I have been seeking from the Lord regarding all the waffling, waiting, and worrying. My mind was set aright, as they say, and I understood exactly what I had done previously, and what I am doing currently doing now. His message hit home, and it challenged me to make up my mind, to trust the Lord for His abilities, and to recommit my way to Him. It was sooo good!

I spent most of yesterday relishing the fact that God is good. I mean, He is so very good to us. I also spent time thinking about what the Lord wants from me, and where in the past He has said “go” to me. You see, I have heard, loud and clear, the Lord speak those very words to me “GO!” and yet, over the course of my life (the past 10 years or so), I have never really gone any where at all. I have heard Him say, “Carol, you are to go here” but rather than obey, I simply questioned Him about His word. I doubted Him, and after a time, I rebelled and said “No” to Him. I didn’t want to go where He was sending me — for many reasons. Mostly, I didn’t want to go because I couldn’t see how I would get there, where I would live, what work I would do, and how I would live in this foreign and difficult place. I just couldn’t see any “blessing” in going.

Pastor Brian really did a super job connecting the dots for me when he said how the Israelites sent out spies to scope out the territory, and other than Joshua and Caleb, who only saw the good, the report that came back was filled with stories of unbelievable hardship, terror, and fright. The report was so hyper-embellished that the Israelites begged to go back to Egypt — back into slavery — back into the life that the Lord had freed them from. We all live in slavery of some sort or another. Perhaps it is a sin that we indulge in and refuse to be liberated from or perhaps it is a lifestyle that is not healthy for us. Or perhaps we have simply overstayed our time in the wilderness as the Israelites did. Perhaps the time to go had come and passed, and without any movement, the Lord is pressing down hard for a commitment. Will we go? Will we follow?

It turns out that the latter is really my experience. I heard the Lord tell me to go some 8 years ago. I heard Him speak to me again 4 years ago, and most recently, I heard Him tell me to get ready to go over the past 6-8 weeks. Yes, the Lord has been preparing me to go for a long time, and He has graciously given me time to get ready, to get my act together, and to really, really GO this time.

Still, I hesitate. Still, I question Him: His authority and integrity, mostly. I still will not go.

At the point of realization, that point when I finally was made to look point-blank at my attitude and my action (or lack, thereof), I had no recourse but to confess my fear to the Lord. I am afraid of going. I am afraid of all the Anakin in this new land (metaphorically speaking — the giants — I see before me). I am afraid, plain and simple, and that fear has motivated me to choose the way that takes me back into the wilderness. The Lord has said I cannot remain in the wilderness. I must move forward, I must take hold of the land He wants to give to me as an inheritance. I cannot remain where I am, physically that is, but I must trust Him, believe in Him, and yes, let Him lead me to this place of blessing and prosperity.

I recommitted my way yesterday, and I made a vow to the Lord. I promised to go. I said I would go, and I would follow Him. Now, I have to keep my side of the covenant with the Lord. I have to do what I said I would do. I have to go. He will provide for me. He will show me how to go from here to there, but I have to go. I have to leave Phoenix, move to a place where I don’t know a soul, and let the Lord establish me in this place. I have to trust Him — to be wholly dependent upon Him — and in this way, He will make my life, my way, my desires come to pass. He will do it. He will bring it to pass. He is good to me, so very good to me.

What Does This Mean for Me Today?

Mostly, it just means that I realize now that my future is not here in Phoenix. I don’t think it is in VA, to be specific, but it clearly is not here. I have lived in Phoenix, a desert place, a wilderness for a long time, and in truth, I have stayed too long at this mountain (as the Israelites did at Mt. Horeb). I need to leave, to move, to follow the Lord, and for me, that means physically as well as spiritually picking up stakes and moving to a new place, a new land.

I am not sure how I will do it, but as the Israelites finally decided to leave the wilderness and move into the promised land, they realized that the Lord would go before them, He would fight for them, and in this way, He would deliver them, yet again, by His mighty and merciful hand. I realize that there is no way for me to physically move myself. I don’t have the resources. I don’t have a job that will provide stability for me. I don’t have a place to live, etc. I need His help. I cannot do it on my own. But — but — He can. Yes, He can. He can move me. He can make my paths straight, and He can deliver me from the hand of my enemy. He will fight for me, prepare a place for me, and in this way, I simply am asked to follow. I am to follow Him by day and by night, and because I have the Holy Spirit within me rather than a physical sign (clouds and fire), I have “Emanuel” to guide me. I can trust my Lord and my Savior, Jesus. He has not let me go, He has never left me behind, and He has been faithful to me. He has kept His promises — for sure and for positive — as I like to say to Him. He has done everything He said He would do, and as such, I can rely on Him to continue to do so. He is the same — yesterday, today, and forever — there is no changing, no shadow, no turning. He will give me what I need to go (money), and He will show me where to settle. He will provide work for me, food for me, good life to me. In all things, He will accomplish His will in and through me for His name sake. It is His will I seek, I follow, and it is in His name that I go.
In Closing

As I sit here and think about the God I serve, this one truth comes to my mind: I serve the God who created the heavens and the earth. I lack no good thing, and my God is far bigger, greater, and more powerful than any foe I will face in this lifetime. He has me well-covered. He has me well-provided for, and in this way, I can rest and know He has this whole “going” bit all figured, planned, prepared, and determined. I can rest and trust in my God, my sufficiency.

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