June 8, 2017

Movement Forward

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. I rested well, despite tossing and turning during the night. The good news is that I think I was able to sleep about 5-6 hours undisturbed, which helped me to wake feeling good. I feel pretty good today.

I’ve got a lot on my plate for today. It is hard to believe that we leave this Monday for our trip to Indiana. Between now and then, there is much to accomplish. I need to get my Regent students ready for their 6/19 start date, so today I plan to record welcome videos and power points. Second, I have to keep my ASU students in the loop, even though most of my grading is already up to date. Third, I need to deal with prepping the house and cats for our week away. My son will be babysitting, but he will need food for himself and treats for the cats while we are gone. Then there is my parents’ needs, which are mostly cared for, but still I have some tasks to do in order to make sure they have what they need for the week. Last, and most importantly, I need to get my transcript issue settled for Grantham, and to be ready to move into that position as soon as I return from vacation. God is good to me. He is so very, very good to me! Selah!
Sensing His Movement

It has been an interesting week thus far. I mean, I started the week thinking one thing, thinking that the Lord intended to move me to VA, and that a job at Regent University (full-time) might be possible. Then I made a sharp turn around and began to think about other places the Lord has pressed on me as “possible” move locations. After reflecting more on Sunday’s sermon by Pastor Kruckenberg, I made another sharp turn to where I am today, and well, in doing so, the Lord seems to have moved — like really moved! Let me explain…

I have not been content for a while. To put it plainly, I have been feeling less than content in the plans the Lord has for my life. In this way I simply mean that I believe His overarching plan is a good one. I mean, it is so really GOOD! I was struggling more with the here and now, the details that were so muddled, and the feelings of confusion I was trying to clear. I simply was unsure what the Lord intended to do. Was I to move to another physical place? Was I to stay put, to remain here in Phoenix, and to engage in work and ministry right where I am planted now?

In all my confusion, I also had some issues with listening and with abiding. I was listening to the Lord, but I wasn’t doing what He asked of me. I was sort of listening and then letting my doubt cause that listening to be muddled. It was difficult for me to sort through fact and fiction, and in the end, I just sat still thinking that I didn’t really know what He wanted me to do anymore. Sigh!

Then clarity reigned, and the Lord provided what I need to see my way through the fog. I was able to finally put the pieces together, and as a result, I was able to see that my confusion stemmed from a number of small things, mostly my misinterpretation of His command to “go,” and my unwillingness to accept His provision for both prosperity and protection. In short, I thought I was to physically go, when He was telling me to spiritually move forward. Secondly, He was saying that He was providing for me in tangible ways, but I had to accept those ways as being “good enough.” In the end, it was more about me leaning on my own understanding when I should have just listened and obeyed. Yes, I should have listened and then followed the Lord’s command. It would have saved me a lot of worrying, frustration, and well, plain old fear.

Today, I have made a breakthrough of sorts, and I feel like the Lord is moving in my life after such a long period of standing still. Granted, some of that standstill was due to the completion of my program. I had to finish at Regent. I had to graduate. I had to wait through the last two months and be patient in order to move to the next stage in His marvelous plan.

Now that I am ready, at the threshold, I have been looking into the future, but not really with any clarity. It was like the door was open, but the view inside was all foggy. It was not clear to me. Then yesterday, after a surprise email and push forward, I started to see the way through the door with more vision. I was able to discern some steps to follow, and then with proper lighting, I could actually begin to make out the path and the scenery around the path. It is funny how that sometimes happens. We can be standing at the ready, ready to go, and then when we are given the “all clear,” we simply don’t go forward because the way is all misty and murky. We cannot see where we are going. The Bible speaks of this as the path of faith. Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) says it this way, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” In short, faith is believing what we cannot see in front of us. We believe the way is clear even though it looks murky. We believe that what we are hoping for is there — in the mist — and we are convinced that it is so. As we walk on this journey we experience God in new ways, and one of those ways is at “threshold moments” when we are asked to take a step into the murkiness, to obey His command to go through the open door, despite the fact that we cannot see behind the lintels and doorposts. Peterson says it this way in the Message Translation:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can't see.

It is our faith that makes it possible for us to see things in the darkness. We are able to see what is there, just hidden from view, but we can only see it when we put on the glasses, the spectacles of faith. God has given us the ability to see the unseen through our faith in Jesus, but we must put on those glasses in order to receive the blessed revelation. In my case, I was standing at the door way, already armed with His word to “go,” but hesitant to actually go because I couldn’t see my way through the door. Once I put my faith lenses on, the whole picture began to clear and immediately I could see the first few steps “clear as a bell.” My path ahead is in the clear, at least the part that is right in front of me. The rest is faded and shrouded in mist, but for this part, these next steps, I can see clearly where I am going.

What this means for me today is that I have received clarity of vision, enough so to know that the Lord intends to keep me posted here in Phoenix, to settle me here, and to give me enough work to keep me practically and professionally prospered. Am I content? You bet. Am I content because I finally know what the Lord plans to do with my life? Not really. I am content because I stopped looking for answers elsewhere, and I starting finding all my answers, all the solutions, in one place — in my Lord and Savior — alone. I started to look to Him as the fulfillment, the answer to every question, and guess what happened? My stress, my anxiety, and my fear melted away. The fog lifted, and I saw that door again. I realized I had been standing there all along, just standing there, but so afraid to walk on through because I couldn’t see my way past the door handle. Then with clarity, with faith, I began to see the way through. It started to make sense to me, and in a very short amount of time, my eyesight returned. It was keen again, clear, and I could see the pathway before me. Like I said, I don’t see every twist and turn, every road or little by way, but I do see enough to know I am on firm ground. 

What is more is the fact that I have His peace. I feel good about what I am doing. I feel really good that I am staying put not because I want to do so, but rather, I am staying put because the Lord has a job for me to do here in Phoenix. I may not work in Phoenix full time, mind you. I may end up teaching online in another state, but physically, I will remain here because the Lord has said it is good for me to do so. I have come around to sensing that this place is just as good as the next. This place offers the same prosperity to me as all the other states I studied and considered as potential homesites. Yes, I am staying in Phoenix — despite the heat — despite the high cost. The Lord has promised a way for me here in this desert place, and while I viewed this desert place as a wilderness, I realized this weekend that wildernesses come in different varieties. You can physically be in the wilderness like the Israelites were in the Old Testament story. Or, you can be in a spiritual wilderness where you are stuck in place, wandering around, and not moving forward — all without really leaving your own physical location. I was in the latter. My desert place was figurative and metaphorical. I was in this place because I was unwilling to go to the next step on God’s path for my life. My journey had nothing to do with physically leaving Phoenix. My heart’s desire, may it be known, has always been to live some place else, but my will was causing me to confuse going to a new place (a new city/state) with going to where the Lord was telling me to go (spiritually). 

Now that I have the two wildernesses figured out, I have come to understand that my time in the wilderness was partly His design and partly my refusal to obey a command I had received a while ago. The delay in clarity was simply due to the fact that at that time, I was also right in the middle to end of my program, and well, I had to focus on one rather than the other. I had to graduate, so the Lord left me in the wilderness so I could simply work on my program, finish strong, and graduate with my degree. Now that I am graduated, it was time to go. I had to get moving forward, but I was so stressed, so stuck, and so shortsighted that I really thought the moving forward was all about me physically leaving my life here and moving someplace else.

In all my confusion, I lost my sense of being, my sense of purpose and my sense that tells me what is right and wrong, good and bad, and generally, my sense that helps me know I am right where the Lord wants me to be. In fact, often I would hear Him say to me, “Carol, you are in a very good place. You are right where I want you to be.” I would listen and think, “But how can this be so? I am not content. I need to go.” I didn’t get the fact that the Lord’s command to go was to move me on to the next step in my spiritual development, my spiritual growth. Yes, He may choose to physically move me elsewhere, but as of now, I doubt it seriously. I really see that I have everything I need to live a good life right where I am, and the thought of moving is far more disconcerting to me than remaining where I am. Furthermore, I have open doors here, lots of them, ministry doors, I mean. I have opportunities for ministry, and I have opportunities for research (scholarship). I also have good connections forming, collegial connections, and I have many new paths to walk on. In short, staying here in Phoenix, while not my “green place,” is His promised land. He has made what I thought was difficult desert into a garden oasis. I am seeing the beauty in a place where before I only saw dirt — lots of dirt.

My eyes have been opened to ways in which I can minister, and my eyes have been opened to ways I can live comfortably, easily, and with moderation. I can now see a life for me past this one. I can now see that I can be happy right where I am — even if nothing physically changes for me. I can be happy, temporally happy, which simply means I can have that feeling of blessedness, spiritual wellness, goodness along with physical settlement all without having to leave. My going is about me trusting the Lord, resting in His sufficiency, and believing in faith that the Lord is moving forward to position me, to make my path prosperous, and to give me potential opportunities for income, ministry, and special assignments.

I am relieved. I am overjoyed, but mostly I feel settled now. I feel like I am where I should be, and while my employment future is not set yet, it is okay. I feel set. I feel like I am doing the right thing, thinking the right way, and in this manner, I am ready to receive that blessed promotion, which is coming to me. I am ready to receive the blessed promotion of a full-time faculty position.

What is more, if there can be more, is the fact that I called the Registrar at Regent University just now, and I was able to confirm my degree has cleared. It will be posted tomorrow (praise God!) I can request an official transcript for Grantham, and I can move forward on my way to being employed in yet another school for yet another round of blessing.

My status as PhD has been confirmed, God be praised! I am jumping for joy, because now I will have my copy, my record, to send to prospective schools. I will have my transcript with my degree on it, and God be praised, this means I can be hired to teach full-time!! I am excited, I am blessed, and I am reeling in the goodness of the Lord. He has made this way possible. He has made it possible for another new door to appear in front of me. This new door has a university name on it. I cannot see that name yet, and I am not to that threshold yet, but I am close, so very close. Perhaps by the time I return from Indiana I will be at the door mat. Perhaps by the time my next series of classes begin at Regent, I will have an offer to apply for a job. I just don’t know His timing, but I believe it will be so very soon.

Furthermore, as I move forward, I realize that my life here in Phoenix will change. I will move —just not out of state — but I will move. I will look to purchase a home of my own soon. I have debt to pay, credit to build, and I have many little steps to take in order to get ready for that big step of faith. But, it is a possibility now. With a full-time job on the horizon, I will have the income needed to qualify for a loan. I will have the necessary means to finance a home. I can plan a future for myself, a way that will give me peace, comfort, and joy, now that I can see more clearly what is ahead of me. God is good to help me see more clearly, to help me forecast into the near future. This pleases me, blesses me, and comforts me. I feel confident that I can see what will be in the next 6-8 weeks. God is good, so very good to me.
In Closing

My life has taken a sharp turn, and physically while I never really moved, spiritually I took a giant step forward toward the next stage of His will for my life. I moved. I really moved. I listened to His command to “go,” and this time, I followed. I went where He said to go, and praise be to God, I am on the other side of that blessed door. I am in a new place, a new territory, and this place is filled with wonderful new things for me to see and to do. I am ready to experience newness. I am ready to experience new opportunities for growth, for wellness, and for spiritual reward. I am ready to tackle new projects that require great faith, and I am ready to lean on, rely upon, and adhere closely to my Lord. I am ready, Lord. I am ready to be used by you for your name, your praise, and your honor this good, good day.

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