June 22, 2017

God’s Goodness is Real!

Happy Thursday! Yes, it is Thursday, and I am sitting at my computer this morning giving the Lord praise for His goodness. I am so happy, so very happy. I should say that I am filled with joy — the joy of the Lord — as well as filled with a sense of wonderment and awe.

This morning, I received an update from Regent University Advising that said that my transcript issue was being resolved. Praise God! I should say that yesterday, I called the registrar to inquire as to the delay in receiving my transcript. I was concerned about the protracted delay, and the fact that most of my colleagues had already received their official transcripts. I had called before my Indiana trip and I was assured my transcript would post within 1-2 days. Unfortunately, 12 days later — and I still have no transcript. I didn’t want to seem impatient, so after some prayer, I made the decision to follow up to see if there was any issue, any problem.

It was a good thing that I did because it turned out that there was a clerical error in processing my cohort’s evaluations. Apparently, the catalog for 2012-13 said a course, COM 788, was needed for graduation. But, the department changed that requirement for students after 2013 (my group). So starting with my class, this course was moved to an elective in the catalog, and another course was required in its place. In truth, I don’t think any of us even knew about the class because it was never offered in the registration system (I digress).  The problem was that the catalog said the course was required, and the degree evaluators couldn’t approve the degree without proof of passing the class. The COM department needed to provide a waiver of sorts (a petition) to have the class removed from our degree evaluation requirement. This petition was included with our file, but the holdup for my degree was due to this paper not being attached (or misplaced). Advising said that several of my peers were also in the same boat, and that there were a couple of us still waiting for their transcript to post.

The good news is that my call triggered an alert in the registrar's office as well as in advising. So now, the problem is being resolved as we speak, and according to Advising, I should expect a degree posting by the end of the week!

God is good. He is so very good to me!

Yes, it is a good Thursday, and I am thanking the Lord for His mercy and His goodness in this particular situation. More so, I am thanking Him for His graciousness to me. I am praising Him for His work, and for His ability to help me to see the problem more clearly. Furthermore, I am in awe of His kindness toward me. I certainly do not deserve it. I really do not deserve His grace at all, but I am thankful for it. Today, I have my answer. Today, I have clarification. Today, I have some closure on a rather sticky and unknown situation.

Coming to a Place of Clarity

As I think about my recent good news, I marvel at the Lord. I am filled with wonder and awe, and I am reminded of His goodness, and His participation and presence in my life. More so, I think about the fact that just yesterday, I was stressed about my transcript delay, stressed about my life being so unresolved, and stressed over my future opportunities (the big unknown). Yes, just yesterday, I was stressed beyond imagination, and I was in this rather unpleasant state of mind. Let me explain...

You see, even though I was resting in the Lord (or trying to do so), my mind was wandering about aimlessly, and I was hopelessly in a funk. I felt unresolved inside. I felt tension between what I know and what I don’t know, and no matter how hard I tried to let it go, let the unknown and the feelings of things being unresolved go, I simply couldn’t do it. I tried. I tried really hard to be at peace, and despite having peace internally (inside, peace with God, etc.), I simply didn’t have peace in my outer life. I didn’t have peace in my life.

Last night, I struggled to the point of feeling unwell. I had a headache by the time I went to bed, and I struggled to fall asleep. Then, after some turning, I prayed over my situation. I prayed about what was going on inside, and I prayed about my response to it. You see, all my fussing and flurrying around was having no effect. I wasn’t receiving clarification from anyone, not even the Lord. I was simply feeling confused, confounded, and without clarification, I found myself unable to be calm in the midst of the storm.

I prayed to the Lord, asked Him to help me see my way through the clouds, and thankfully, the Lord provided a way for me to find clarity. He didn’t provide closure, mind you. I didn’t get a big windfall that solved all my problems, so to speak. Rather, I simply was able to see how my actions were contributing to the problem, how my unwillingness to accept His timing was causing all sorts of frustration for me, internally and externally. I was a jumbled mess simply because I was unwilling to wait, to patiently wait. I was unhappy about the delay, and not just for my transcript, but also for potential work, and all that unhappiness was coloring my outlook. I was two-faced, so to speak. I put on a happy outward face, but inside, my face was a grumbling mess. Yes, I was unhappy about the delay, the messed up paperwork, and the fact that my transcript was holding up my forward progression.

If you read my blog yesterday, you will recall that I had a dream about being stuck in a parking lot. I was in my car, engine revving, but I couldn’t move because the lot was jammed up. No matter how I tried to move, left or right, I simply couldn’t get myself out of that jam. I had to patiently wait for the cars up ahead of me to move. Likewise, my dream was a metaphor for my physical reality. Yes, I was jammed up, so to speak, in real life too. My life was on hold simply because my transcript and my degree were not officially conferred. In so many ways, I was stuck waiting on paperwork. I was stuck waiting for people and things to move -- to move out of my way -- to allow me to begin to move forward.

I know a transcript doesn't seem like a big deal, but to me, it really is the "open door" that leads to new teaching venues and jobs. In fact, I have been waiting for my transcript to post so I can be approved to teach at Grantham University. My potential employment has been sitting on hold for almost three months. I also know that I cannot be hired for the permanent position the Lord has for me until my transcript posts. If I intend to start full-time this fall, I have to have “degree in hand,” as they say. I have to be able to prove that my degree is conferred, and the only acceptable way to do that is to provide an official transcript. So you see, my entire life is on hold — I cannot move forward — until my transcript from Regent University posts so that I can request an official copy for prospective schools.

All of this is to say that the Lord has been telling me to be patient, to wait, to let things resolve. I, of course, said I would do this, but when push came to shove, I started to worry. I started to panic. I started to get angry. Sigh! I did everything EXCEPT be patient. And, in my failure to be patient, I started to suffer internally. I started to suffer simply because I refused to do what the Lord asked me, no -- told me -- to do.

The good news is, of course, that with this new information in hand, I am able now to rest. I am able to see a tiny bit of movement. I can see the car in front of me move forward -- just a bit -- and that little bit of movement gives me encouragement. God is good. He gives us encouragement when we need it most. I am encouraged today because I can see a light at the end of my tunnel. I can see light now when before I just saw more darkness. I can see the possibility of movement (HOPE), and I can see that my life really will start moving again. Soon. Soon. So very soon.

So what does this mean for me today?

Well, it means that I can rest in several areas in my life. I can rest in the knowledge that my degree is approved, evaluated, and yes, completed. I really am a PhD (LOL!) Secondly, it means that in a couple days to a week, I will have an official transcript that can be supplied to prospective schools.  Third, it means that resting in the Lord also includes waiting. Sometimes we rest when we are weary, but sometimes we must cease striving. I was reminded of Psalm 46:10 last night, which says: Be still and know that I am God. Be still (rest, stop moving) and remember who God is and what He is capable of doing. The Message says it this way:

Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”

The point being that in the midst of our struggles and strife, being still means to look up and recognize (acknowledge) the ONE we worship. We worship the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. We worship the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, we worship the One True God, the Living God, and not a God made with hands -- by human hands.

In all my striving to know, to understand, to grasp some word, some kernel of knowledge, I simply forgot to rest in the One who holds my future, the One who keeps His word to me, and the One who knows my length of days. I forgot to do as Solomon said in Proverbs 3, verses 5-6 (The Message),

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

In hindsight, I looked to my own way, my own hand, and as such, I found confusion and discomfort. However, when I rested, trusted, and leaned on the Lord, I found my peace again. I found the patience to wait, the fortitude to rest, and the resilience to simply let Lord do what He does best, and that is to orchestrate the details of my life.

Moving On and Making Headway

Therefore, with all of this fact and figure in mind, I know today that I am right where the Lord wants me to be. I am in the middle of His will, and with this truth, I am moving at His pace and not mine. I may not like the fact that right now I am tarrying a while as the river moves me ever so slowly toward my destination, but there is a reason for it. God has decided how fast I am to move forward. He has chosen this pace for me -- for a reason. Perhaps He knows that I am busy enough as is. Perhaps He knows that I need to physically rest more, that I am not quite ready to jump into full-scale teacher mode just yet. Or perhaps He knows that the school that intends to hire me isn't quite ready for me to apply, to interview, to be hired. I don't know, but there is reason for the slowness. What is more is the fact that now that I know that the reason for my transcript delay (and it isn't my fault), I also know that there really isn't anything I can do about it. I cannot make the paper trail proceed any faster than it is going today. I cannot run the paper from here to there --> meaning --> I cannot get that little paper from an office in VA (Advising) to another office in VA (Registrar). It is out of my hands, thus I need to let this be. I need to let this rest.

Joyce Meyer tells a story of her daughter and how she always shrugs her shoulders and says, "whatever" to situations that she cannot control. She says that it is her daughter's personality to be really low-key. In one particular video clip she says that her daughter will simply say, "Whatever" when the circumstance is beyond her control. I remember laughing at seeing her shrug her shoulders and just walk about the stage. In one of her devotions on worrying, she writes:

"So stop worrying about everything, give it to God, and live in grace. Grace isn't just divine favor—it's power! Don't waste another day of your life worrying. Determine what your responsibility is and what it is not. Don't try to take on God's responsibility. When we do what we can do, God steps in and does what we can't" (Meyer, 2017).

Worrying about situations you cannot control can lead us to lose our peace, our joy, and in this way, we can become embroiled in a battle that really doesn't need to be fought. Meyer (2017) says it this way,
"Worry and worship are exact opposites, and we'd all be much happier if we learned to become worshippers instead of worriers. Worry opens the door for the devil, but worship is reverence and adoration for God that leads us into His presence. God created us to worship Him, and I don't believe we can walk in victory if we don't become worshippers. Sometimes when we don't have what we need or want, the enemy tries to discourage us and keep us from worshipping God. But when we know that God has our best interests at heart, we can worship Him regardless of our circumstances. Remember, God is good even when our circumstances are not! God doesn't always give us our heart's desire right away. He wants us to develop a deep, personal relationship with Him and an outrageous love for Him so much so that we can't live without it. This kind of relationship and love brings the worshipful attitude that God wants us to have."
Worry or Worship? It is our choice.

I know that I don't have that same attitude. I am a worrier. I am someone who MUST KNOW and when I don't have details, I tend to panic and try to figure things out. I guess it is my analyst brain at work, but often my need to know gets me into hot water. I simply find that when I don't know details, logistics, data, I suffer. My brain goes into overload mode, and I begin to analyze everything I can get my hands on in order to help me come to some conclusion. The problem with this approach is that while it is good to analyze data for research or for problem solving, sometimes, the problem is not solvable, especially when it is spiritually grown. In real life problems, analyzing data can and should be a proper step in understanding and creating solutions. 

However, in spiritual contexts, sometimes analyzing doesn't help, especially if the problem is not of the will. What I mean by that is simply that when we sin or have an issue of willfulness, then analyzing the root of the problem often reveals our part in its creation. We can come to terms with behaviors and attitudes that led to the problem, and with humility, we can take steps to change our minds, our hearts, and our actions. In this way, we can hopefully make changes that will lead to resolution. But, with problems that are not under our control or our influence, our meddling doesn't improve the situation. No matter how well we analyze the data, there might be nothing we can do to change the outcome. 

In these cases, as my transcript delay illustrates, there is nothing we can do but accept the delay and learn to deal with the emotional and intellectual disruption. We simply have to DEAL WITH IT. In this way, we need to have a "Whatever" attitude because there nothing we can do, and being upset or angry, will only serve to cause us suffering (more than the waiting, more than the patience, more than the situation warrants).

In Closing

As I close this blog post, I am reminded of this verse from scripture (Matthew 6:34, MSG), which says,

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

I worry about things I cannot control even though I know better. I worry about my future plans, the hopes and dreams I have in my heart and whether or not they will come true. I worry about what will happen to my family, my parents, my son, and in all of this worry, I forget to remember that most of what concerns me are details and logistics that are outside my control, out of my hand. I am consumed with what if and what may be, when in truth, I should be resting in the knowledge that my Lord has all of these details well in hand. He knows me well. He knows me so well, and He has my life ordered, planned and prepared. I don't have to worry because God is the One who is the keeper and controller of my days. He has me well-covered. Amen, so be it, selah!

Today, I am choosing to put on an attitude that rests in the Lord, trusts in His will and word, and believes in His power to effect change in and through my life. He is able, more than able to handle anything and everything that concerns me this good, good day. He is good to me, so very good to me. He has a great plan for my life, and in and through His merciful will, He has made a way for me to go. I will go and do His work. I will go and do what He asks me to do. I will go. I will follow. I will let Him lead, guide, and provide for me this good, good day.

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