It is a typical Thursday here in sunny and warm, Phoenix. The skies are clear, the sun is shining brightly, and the day is off to its usual motif. Everything is as it should be for the last day of August 2017. I am finding it really hard to believe that it is almost September (tomorrow) and that in just three short months, we will be working toward to Fall and then Christmas. It is funny how the year just moves on by so quickly. It seems like yesterday, I was so stressed over my dissertation and finishing it by the March 15 deadline. It seems like I was so overwhelmed at the thought of traveling to Regent twice in the spring, once for my defense, and once for graduation. Now, I am sitting at my home computer, thinking about all that has passed, and I cannot help but wonder what is next for me. I mean, what plans does the Lord have for my life now that I am graduated and ready and able to do His work and His will?
I have written these words, "moving on," some 20-30 times over the past couple months. In many ways, I should simply say, "still moving," because that is more accurate. I am moving on from where I was just yesterday. I am not standing still but I am walking on this journey, one day at a time. I have no future plan other than to "keep on keeping on," and to wait patiently as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. I am walking out my faith, as Joyce Meyer would say. I am getting up each day, looking up to the skies and saying to the Lord, "not my will this day, Lord, but your will be done." I place my faith, my hope, and my trust in the Lord, and daily He refreshes me. He keeps me. He helps me. He holds my hand, so to speak, and in this way, I keep on trying to do what I think He wants me to do. Some days, like today, I feel so down, so depressed, so unworthy. Some days I feel like I want to give up, throw in the towel, or just hide under the covers. Other days, I feel so strong, so confident, so bold, and while I don't always know from day to day what will happen, most days, I feel thankful, grateful, and definitely blessed simply to be alive, to have good practical work to do, and to know that my God has my life sorted, organized and planned out.
Today, I am challenged, and my heart is very heavy. I am about to start to teach another class, at the last minute, I should say, and that means that I am scrambling to get everything worked out. This is twice that I have been asked to step in when another instructor has bowed out at the last minute. It is a challenge to prep for a class 3-4 weeks out, but a day, one day, simply doesn't give enough time to do a good job. I hate having to create something from scratch, and given my time right now, I am in this place of dread and overwhelm. Just this morning I said, "Lord, why did I do this?" The response was because it was His will, and well, I cannot argue with that point. I just feel unprepared, and I don't like to walk into situations without all my ducks lined up.
I guess I am learning how to do that, how to go with the flow, how to handle problems as they arise. Yesterday, the podium computers would not work, so I wasn't able to load any video. It was a network problem, and my whole rhythm of the of the day was just knocked off balance. Today, I am facing uncertainty again, and I am walking into a class of seniors with little to no preparation. I have no knowledge of what to expect. I will show up with my game face on, and I will do what I can, but my heart and my head worry because I don't want to let these students down. I don't want to let them have a bad experience due to my ill-preparation or my lack of knowledge. Yet, I know that I am good at what I do. I know that I know my stuff. I guess anyone who speaks on stage, who teaches experiences this same agony. I remember my ex-mother in law, who spoke for many years professionally in Christian women's groups, conferences, etc., would literally have an anxiety attack every time she finished speaking. The guilt, the panic, the anxiety is overwhelming to public speakers. We put ourselves out there, open ourselves up, and when we make a misstep or mistake, it is like target-season. We are hit left and right with commentary, all-guns barrelled. It really is part and parcel with our contentious society. We are a people who argue openly, who name call, and generally who act hostile to anyone or anything that is said that causes some disagreement.
I struggle some with my calling because of the environment that I am in at present. I don't like contention. I don't like to be called out, but I have been gifted with the ability to preach the word of God, and as such, I have to preach in season and out, regardless of the crowd's receptivity to me. This translates to the classroom as well. I have to show up, do this work, and trust that the Lord will cover me. He will be my safe guard, standing at the doorway to make sure no one passes through who seeks to harm me.
I never wanted to be a public speaker. In fact, I never wanted to be in the public or the limelight. I never wanted to go on stage. I am an introvert, and as such, I really don't like to express myself outwardly. I like to write on my blog, to think quietly, to be circumspect, but I work in a public venue, and I teach students content and curriculum that is not original -- it is given to me. This means that I teach what I know through another creator's lens. It is a challenge to do this because I don't always know what the designer had in mind. I don't always know what I should do or say. I do my best, and sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes I crash and burn. It is hard for me to stand bare naked and let other criticise me, analyze me, and scrutinize me. It is hard to handle dissension, disagreement, and controversy.
Now, I know what I have been called to do, and that is to help the church communicate faith more effectively. I know my ministry and my mandate, and I know that the work I do day in and day out is a reflection of that call. However, sometimes I wonder how what I do really affects my ministry efforts down the road. At first, I knew that I had to learn how to be comfortable on stage. I had to learn how to handle large crowds. I had to not panic, but to be able to present information. I still struggle with presenting, and I still struggle with my approach. I worry that it is not effective, that I am not effective. I worry whether my students are getting what I am saying and whether or not they care. My students are fine, I am assured, but I want to know that my daily work is pleasing to Him, and that it matters to Him, and that my effort will be rewarded some day soon.
Resting Without Any Knowledge
So today, I rest without any real knowledge of what the day will bring. I have some personal challenges to attend to this good day, and of course, I have to show up for my first class and jump into that deep pool of worry, but I do so without any assurance of a productive outcome. I have no control today. I have no authority today. I have no prospects and no real hope that the day will go well. I do have faith. I do have faith, and through that faith, I have hope. Not in myself, of course, but in the One who is able to control the seas, calm the wind, and make the ocean surface smooth. My faith rests securely in Jesus, and it is in Jesus, my only Hope, where I know I will find the security, safety, and blessed assurance of a good day. The day may not turn out well for me, but one thing is certain, no matter what happens this day, God is always good. He is good, and I will say it as many times as needed to remind myself of that fact. He is good. He is always good to me.
"Part The Waters / I Need Thee Every Hour" by Selah
When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord and hold out Your hand
Touch my life
Still the raging storm in me
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.