Is it me or have my blog posts titles reverted to the days of the weeks? *Sigh!* It is Friday, and well, that means I have hit another “end” of the week. It is hard to believe that it is July 7 already, and that I have about one month left of my vacation. I am amazed at how quickly time has flown by. I mean, it seems like it was just April 30, and I was getting ready to fly to VA for my graduation ceremony. My summer began with a big bang, and now it is stuck in the mid-summer lull. I don’t have any plans for the rest of my month nor do I anticipate any major “change” on the horizon. Well, at the least, not from my vantage point today, that is.
I slept pretty well last night. In fact, I went to bed around 11:00 and I didn’t wake up until nearly 9:30. I don’t even recall waking up in the middle of the night, as weird as that seems, and when I did get up this morning, I was feeling refreshed (albeit with a bit of sinus headache/pressure only). I am now at my desk, blogging, and sipping my coffee. My best friend, Winston, is sprawled on my desk. My other fur buddy, Ike, is over in my closet. The morning is progressing as normal or as normal as normal can be. I am feeling blue today, and I think part of the “blueness” is due to my interview yesterday and the impending big UNKNOWN of my future. Yes, I am a bit depressed, and I think along with the depression there is a mixture of oppression, know what I mean?
Making Sense of Recent Events
My day yesterday was uneventful. I do think my interview went well, but I have no idea if anything will come from it. I am content, as I have said, to remain as Adjunct. In fact, I just checked my bank, and my last pay for the summer has been deposited. I have had a good run with ASU, and I am thankful for the past 7 months. I have done well at this school, and the pay for adjunct is really good. I am hoping I can continue as adjunct should they choose a different candidate for the full-time position. However, there is a part of me that believes that this job is His provision, His will, and as such, this job will come to pass. I guess I am feeling apprehensive about the job situation as a whole right now. I had this plan in mind, where I would teach full-time online in order to free me from living in Arizona. You know, I was thinking I could work online and live wherever I wanted to live. Now, here I am in this good spot, with a real chance for this plan to come to pass, and in some ways, I am afraid. Yes, I know. I am afraid that this plan might actually come to pass. *Sigh!* I don’t know why that is such a shocker to me, I mean, really this is what I have thought would come to pass. And, knowing that the Lord is moving in my life, I should not be surprised at all that He would open doors like this, move me in this way, and settle me down right where He wants me to be.
I honestly should be jumping for joy, but right now what is most distressing to me is not the job coming to pass, but rather the fact that I am concerned that if this job does come to pass, I will be forced to remain in Phoenix. This thought is what is distressing me most because while there is part of me that wants to stay, there is a really big part of me that wants to go — some place — any place that is NOT Phoenix. In truth, I had hoped to be moved to another place, to a more greener place, with some job offer, and I had so looked forward to life in a different time and climate zone as a result. You know, different from “sunny and hot.” Like a life with some snow. Rain. Sleet. Ice. Fall leaves. Yes, I had hoped to move north, south or east, and with that move, I had hoped to find a new (different) life waiting for me —> over there —> over the rainbow and over where there is GRASS!
What is more is the fact that as I’ve blogged about wanting a new life, about how I had felt the Lord was moving me, setting me, planting me in a new place, I had really enjoyed the process of thinking about it. Yes, I had looked forward to moving for a long, long time, and I had gotten to the point where I longed for it, I imagined it, I dreamed it, and I so desperately wanted it to come to pass. But, now it just seems like I am stuck here and that thought depresses me, really depresses me. So, this morning, I feel myself murmuring, grumbling and complaining about the likelihood that I will get a full-time job offer that keeps me securely tied to Phoenix, Sigh!
After I moved a bit this morning, I decided to ask the Lord, to really ask Him, for His help in understanding why I feel the way I do. I mean, why am I sad, depressed and anxious over such a good thing? It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t get it. Thus, I prayed about my feelings this morning, and I asked the Lord to help me sort through them, to understand them, and to come to terms with them. I asked Him to show me how to deal with the emotional sweep, and then how to gain a fresh perspective so that I could see the good in what appears to be happening in my life. The Lord always provides for me. He always helps me when I am confused, confounded, and generally, unwell (mentally, emotionally). He helps me feel grounded, situated, and settled. I need to be settled. I need to feel like what I am seeing happening around me will eventually make sense, even if right now, it seems all jumbled and so very, very confusing to me.
My blog post today is simply about my feelings and the ups and downs I am experiencing. I hope that by the end of the post, I will feel much better. I will feel so much better once I can put the puzzle pieces together so that they reveal a clearer picture of my life right now. *Sigh!*
Choosing to Obey
This past Sunday, one of our summer visiting pastors preached a good sermon about life and what it means to endure trials without “murmuring, grumbling or complaining.” Pastor Loritts (Abundant Life Christian Fellowship) gave a good message that reminded me that much of what I am experiencing is similar to what the Israelites and prophets written about in the Old Testament experienced. If you recall the stories of the patriarchs, much of the story involved spending time patiently waiting for God’s promised provision to arrive. For example, Abraham and Sarah waited for Isaac, the promised son, to be born. Joseph patiently endured hardship and trial in Egypt until he was chosen to be Pharaoh’s right hand man. The Israelites waited for God to rescue them from Pharaoh, and when Moses was born, it would be a long and difficult process of waiting until he was old enough and ready to follow the Lord and bring the captives out. Then came the wilderness experience, and well, we all know that story. The Bible speaks of others who waited, such as David, and the prophets, often waiting years before God brought His promised provision to light. And, last we can read about how long God’s people waited for the promised Messiah to come, and then when He did, how long His people have waited (and are still waiting) for His return. Yes, the Bible is filled with stories of God’s faithfulness, His provision, but in each account there is also His timing, and His timing is often what causes the most problem for His people.
There is a pattern with His movement, and at various times in our lives, we may be in “waiting” mode or in “moving” mode. It just depends on what the Lord is doing in our life at the moment when He calls us to “go” or to “stay.” You see, sometimes God moves, and He asks us to wait. Other times, God asks us to move or to go, but we choose instead to stay. We do the opposite of what He wants us to do. Sometimes, He asks us again, and again, and again, but we still say no. We simply will not go, and then the Lord causes us to wait because of our disobedience. The children of Israel waited in the desert for 40 years simply because they wouldn’t go, they wouldn’t obey, and in the end, God caused them to wander around, aimlessly, until the entire generation had passed away. He gave them one last chance, but because of their lack of faith, only two people who had been with the exiles entered the promised land. Everyone else died in the desert. If we lack faith, lack trust, or lack insight, we often stumble around like the Israelites in the wilderness. We find ourselves lost because we don’t know what to do, where to go, and how to get to where God has asked us to go. It is in these times when we often grumble and complain to the Lord.
I identified with his message on Sunday, and I could see some of the hallmarks of my life in his sermon. As Pastor Loritts gave encouragement and reasons for why we should respond to God with faithful obedience, I could see my life in full view, and I could see all the “hitches” or places in it where I had not obeyed. Yes, I could see the times when I didn’t go when He asked me to go as well as the times when I didn’t stay when He said to remain.
As I consider this truth today, I realize that one of the reasons — well the primary reason — why I feel the way I do is because I am not choosing to obey the Lord in His command to me. He has told me to remain, to stay, and I am not content to do so. I want to go. I want to live some place else, and my wants right now are causing me to be confused and confounded. What is more, is the fact that as I desire to go, I feel this general lack of confidence in going. I simply feel like the more I want to go, the more I am less inclined to do it. Then, when I think about staying, about remaining where I am, I also have this discontentment. I don’t want to stay because I don’t like where I am right now. I want to be some place else, and since I cannot have what I want, I am unhappy, discontented, and well, grumbly about it. Yes, the reason why I feel the way I do is because I am not willing to relent, to let go, and to let God lead me. I am choosing to be willful, stubborn, and disgruntled about His provision and the way His provision seems to be panning out. *Sigh!*
The Bible tells us that whenever we “contend” with the Lord, we will struggle against Him for a time until we relent. Relent simply means to “to soften in feeling, temper, or determination; become more mild, compassionate, or forgiving” (Dictionary.com). It means to settle down, simmer down, and to become less obstinate — more mild — in temperament. In Biblical terms, it means to become agreeable, and with that thought, it simply suggests that one must stop doing what they are doing — struggling, contending, and wrestling with the Lord.
My heart is troubled today simply because I am contending with the Lord on this matter. I am not happy about the outcome because I perceive the outcome as not being as favorable as I had hoped. I am wrestling with His decision to keep me settled in Phoenix, and with His determination that remaining where I am is a good thing. I want what I want, and even though I say that I want His will, clearly, I prefer my own.
Dear Lord, I relent. I confess to you today that I have wanted my own way. I have not wanted to go where you were sending me, and then I have not wanted to stay when you said I was to stay. I have allowed my fear-based personality to guide me into making decisions and choices that were not in my best interest, and then when given the chance to start over, to do over, I would not trust you enough to let you lead me to a good place. Now, I am stuck in Phoenix, and while I believe this is your will, this wilderness has become a home to me. You are telling me that it is time to leave the wilderness, to go to the promised land, but the thought of making Phoenix my home stresses me. It is not the home I want, but I also know that my life no longer is my own. Thus, if you decide that Phoenix is to be my permanent home, I have to let go of the ideas and wants and desires I have to live elsewhere. No matter how much I desire to live in the cold and the snow, if you choose for me to remain in the desert, I must remain. I confess to you today that I have been willful, stubborn, and obstinate, and as a result, I have not obeyed your voice, your command. I have questioned you, impugned your integrity, and chosen instead, to trust in my own intelligence and feelings. I confess Lord that I took the position that said, “I know what is best,” when in reality and truth, I know nothing at all. I ask now that you forgive my foolishness, my arrogance, and that you help me to be established in the place of your choosing. I confess this now and ask forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
So, I turn around. I stop wrestling with the Lord, and I let His will come to pass this good, good day. I choose to let Him lead, guide, and provide for me, and no matter what comes to pass, I will let Him make the choice, the decision, and in this way, I will go where He sends me. I will live where He tells me to live. I will do the work He has planned, prepared, and prospered me to do. I will do as He says, and I will walk and live in obedience to His commands. I will do all these things with this one thing in mind — I promised — I covenanted with the Lord to keep His commands, to obey His word, and in this way, I would receive the blessing and prosperity of the Lord God.
In closing, as I consider my place, I realize that much of this contention was not born within me; rather, it was suggested, implanted, and thrust on me by my enemy. My enemy doesn’t want me to be happy, to be joyful, to be thankful. He doesn’t want me to enjoy my life, and in this way, his desire is to rob me, to steal from me, any hope, joy, or peace that is mine in Christ Jesus. Now, I am not saying, “the devil made me do it,” but I am suggesting that I allowed my mind to consider alternatives to what the Lord had already said to me. I considered options when I should have simply said, “The Lord has said…” just as Jesus did in the wilderness. I should have said, “Go away” when first tempted, but I didn’t. I listened. I let my ears be tingled with thoughts of what could be — if only — I had my way. Yes, I let myself me carried away by thoughts and feelings that were not bad, per se, but they were not in alignment with what I already knew to be true. In short, I listened to a voice that said, “Did God really say this to you…” when I already knew the answer. I already knew the truth. I had no need to consider any other thoughts on the matter. Yet, I did. I failed. I fell. And, in the end, I experienced that sense of discontentment with what the Lord had already provided to me.
Therefore, today, I take stock and I regain my hope in the fact that my Lord lives. I may have been wounded on the battlefield of pride, but I regained my sense of composure, and I realized who I am and to whom I belong. I am not my own, living out there and going willy nilly where I want. No, I am a bond slave of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as such, I can only go where my Master goes. I cannot go on my own any more, I must only follow after Him.