July 9, 2017

Waiting for the Promise

It is a blessed Sunday here in Phoenix, Arizona. I am home alone this morning. My parents are at church across the street, and my son is over at the church where he works on Sunday mornings. It is just me and the boys, sitting here in my home office, enjoying the peace and the quiet of this blessed day. I am thinking about my life today, reflecting some, and wondering how I will manage come fall. I am hopeful that I will receive a full-time job offer soon, but as of right now, I feel pretty well set that my life will continue as it has been for the interim. I am hopeful, expectant, and I do anticipate hearing something soon, but I also am well aware that the job market for professors is tight, and that I need to keep focused on what the Lord has said to me (that which I know) rather than speculation or wishful thinking.

Wishful Dreaming

Today, in particular, I am feeling this sense that it is time to be practical about matters. I don’t mean to say I am choosing to accept my lot in life, ho-hum, and so on; no, not at all. Instead, what I am saying is that I believe the Lord likes it when we attend to our business WHILE we wait for His blessed provision. It is sort of like when Abraham and Sarah waited all those years for the promised child. They didn’t just sit down and say, “Okay, Lord — make us pregnant!” And, they didn’t necessarily think that some mystical light from heaven would shine down and Sarah would magically become pregnant. In fact, they both scoffed at the idea that they could bear a child in their advanced age. It was pretty unrealistic to think that they could do the “deed,” so to speak. And, without being graphic here, let’s just say that the “deed” was done — the old fashioned way. Abraham impregnated his wife with his seed the way men have been doing the deed since the garden of Eden. There was no mystery involved other than the fact that Sarah’s dead womb became fertile again. You see, Abraham wasn’t the one with the problem because we know he impregnated Hagar about 10 years prior. His seed was fine. It was Sarah’s womb (her eggs) and the fertile valley that seemed dry and barren (to use a biblical reference). My point here is this: while Abraham and Sarah waited, they did the business of life. They lived their lives, tended to their flocks, and stayed busy with the details of caring for their family of servants. They didn’t just sit around and wait for God to open her womb, and magically implant Abraham's seed in order to bring forth the promised child. They stayed busy.

Working Out Our Salvation

I’ve been thinking a lot about this story lately, in specific, because it resonates with my own life experience. I had a doctor say to me once, “Carol, you cannot get pregnant if you don’t have sex.” I know — rocket science — right there in a nutshell. This little piece of advice came to me back when my ex-husband and I were first married. We wanted to start a family (well, I did), and I had gone to the doctor for a routine visit. He asked me if I was thinking of getting pregnant. Up to that time, my ex-husband and I had been married about 5-6 years, and well, back then (in the 1980s), most women still got pregnant within the first couple of years of marriage, especially if they were young. It is different now, however. Many women I know wait until their 30s and even 40s to have a child, but back when I was first married, if you didn’t have children within 2-3 years, people speculated that there was something wrong. My doctor thought this was the case because we had not done anything toward that end. When I told him that we were “trying,” he gave me this advice. Really, he said if you want to get pregnant, you have to have sex often (not just once in a while).

The point in all of this is simply that for whatever reason, my womb was dry and barren like Sarah’s, and despite attempts to become pregnant, I never did. Not for a long time, I mean. It was 8 years before I did become pregnant, and then once my son was born, I was never able to become pregnant again. I believe the Lord opened my womb, allowed my husband’s seed to be implanted, and as a result, my precious son was born. I know, sort of graphic, but the reason I bring it up, is to illustrate the fact that while I was praying, asking the Lord for a child, I was doing the necessary work to bring that desire, hope, and dream, to pass. But it wasn’t easy. I didn’t become pregnant easily, and what is more, I didn’t do well in pregnancy or in delivery. In truth, I was pregnant once, and in that one experience, both my son and I almost lost our lives (during and after delivery). Thus, the miracle of my son’s conception and birth truly is a miracle. I digress.

This last Sunday, Bryan Loritts, visiting pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Silicon Valley, CA preached a sermon at our church where he used a similar illustration. He was teaching on patience, waiting for the Lord to bring His promise to us, and how some times, the wait is really, really long. He was stressing the “what we do while we wait,” more so than focusing on the length of time. In his analogy, he stressed that it is important to do what we can WHILE we wait. He said it this way: if you are sick, you pray for healing. But, you also take your medicine.

He was talking about the “name it and claim it” teaching that is often found in some TV/Charismatic churches (not all, just some). He said that we need to pray for God’s promised deliverance, His promised provision, but while we are praying, waiting faithfully for God’s timing, we must also use what provision He has provided to us. In this case, if you are waiting to be healed from Diabetes, for example, you don’t stop checking your blood glucose levels or taking the prescribed medication. You use what is provided, but you believe in FAITH for a miracle just the same.

I am not sure if this analogy works as well as my “seed” one or not. He also gave the analogy of the farmer who prepares the field and plants the seed. He is praying for rain to bring forth his crops, but until it rains, he still does the work to prepare for the rain. In this way, what Pastor Loritts was saying to the congregation last Sunday was that some things are simply out of our control. But, other things are not. God expects us to use what we can control while we wait patiently for Him to deal with the things we cannot control.

In my example above, and my opening section, you can see what I am getting at and where I am at present. Yes, I am waiting for a full-time faculty position to come to pass soon. The Lord knows I need full-time work, and now that I have my degree posted, I am ready to be offered a job. I have applied to a couple positions, but nothing has really happened yet. I interviewed last week, and well, I won’t know if I am accepted or not for perhaps another month. This leaves the decision up in limbo. I have no other option at this time but to wait. So, I can wait and be hopeful (which is good) or I can wait, be hopeful, and stay busy (which is better).

Choosing Abundant Life Now

This morning as I thought about my need, my life, and what might be, I started to think what might happen if the position I interviewed for last week didn’t come to pass. I mean, it is highly likely that the school had more qualified candidates. There is no guarantee that they will pick me — no matter how much I believe, hope, wish, want, or dream. There is a 50/50 chance only. Yes or no. I have no control over the matter. Thus, I have to consider what might be for fall, if the job doesn’t materialize.

In doing so, I started to think about my classes for GCU. I am scheduled to teach 3 sections of English 106 again. I picked these three simply because I was so unsure about my life after my PhD. I just didn’t know what my fall might be like, and back when I selected them, I thought perhaps I might not graduate in May. I was thinking I might not graduate until December, so teaching 3 classes that I know like the back of my hand just made good sense to me.

Now, though, I am thinking, “Carol, what did you do?” I mean, I do love these courses, but I am plum tired of the way I am teaching them. I have taught them consistently for the past 6 semesters, and frankly, I need to update the way I present this material. I realized it last year, but I was in the middle of my dissertation, and there was nothing I could do at the time. I had to use what I had. But this morning, I started to think about what I would do differently, and I began to feel excited about making these changes. I started to think about how to become a better teacher, how to be a better composition instructor, and with that thought, I started to see a way to improve my experience here and now. Yes, I started to focus on what is right in front of me rather than focus on what is way off in the distance.

I am thanking the Lord today because I realized that while it is good to keep a heavenly-focused mindset, we are not to be so heavenly focused that we become “no earthly good,” as the saying says. I realized that in my desire to move, I lost focus on the here and now. I became somewhat obsessed with moving, with thinking about what my life might be like, that I became dissatisfied and disgruntled with what I already had right in front of me. I stopped seeing my provision here in Phoenix as good, and began to focus solely on my future provision and how much “better” it would be. I am not saying that it is wrong to focus on future hopes and dreams; may it never be so. Rather, I am simply saying that we can easily become distracted, so much so that we forget to thank the Lord for the daily blessings and provision He has graciously provided to us. In short, we look forward to the manna that is coming tomorrow without thanking Him for the manna He has given us today.

In Conclusion

In closing, I am taking the time today to thank the Lord for the gracious and abundant provision that I have now. I know He has a great future for me, and He has a great plan for my life, but I cannot lose sight of what He is doing today in order to dream about what He will do tomorrow. I need to stay grounded, and well, take my medicine. I need to be busy with the daily business of life WHILE I wait patiently for the Lord to open doors, bring jobs, and move me (if He wills it) to a new and wonderful place. Until then, I will consider the place I am in as blessed, fortunate, and so wonderfully good — because — He is good, and He came to give me life, and for that life to be, ABUNDANT.

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