First of all, I thank all of you who have prayed for the new school year for me and the boys.
Liberty University’s online seminary program seemed to be a gift, at first. Veteran spouse discount, flexible schedule, and almost round-the-clock academic advising via an 800#.
I prayed for God to open this door. One might say the door flung wide. Two or three of me could have walked through at the same time:
Eager to prepare, I logged in the weekend before classes began. Only to discover the instructors had not loaded the textbooks yet. More importantly, there would be no class instruction time.
Lord, there is no set class time. I will not be taught Your Word by an instructor. This is not what I thought. Lord, shall I go forward, with Your help from Your sanctuary?
Hearing no firm direction from heaven, I went forth into the first week of online class. Only, my heart sank deeper as Monday and Tuesday drew to close.
Yes, navigating online chat rooms, discussion boards and the like was stressful.
Yes, I trusted Christ to strengthen me to do the work assigned, even if there was no instructor.
But still, somethin’ wasn’t right.
Oh Lord, I prayed. You opened this door. Lord, I know I heard your call to become a pastor. Did I get this only half right?
Dusk, when the clouds begin to dissipate and fade into the growing darkness.
With bare feet to honor Him, I stood in front of my house praying.
Eyes wide, I looked up to see His half-moon.
A semi-sick feeling came over me as if I was on a boat, bobbling over waves.
Repentance. Identifying the sin. Laying it down.
I had only scratched the surface with Jesus when Jason got home from work. He wasn’t happy with me, at first.
The heat of tension arose. I felt my t-shirt sticking to my back. My wife heart longed for her husband to understand her plight.
A sister in Christ texted that she was going to spend time with Jesus and we would be covered in prayer. A spiritual reach, straight into our mess of the moment.
I didn’t have time to explain. I replied: perfect timing.
Because God’s timing is always perfect, even when we misunderstand, get ahead of Him and essentially cause ourselves to stumble. We are the ones out of sync, not Him.
His peace. I had been praying for His peace, not knowing a huge decision was coming.
Eventually, Jason reflected wisdom: Liberty was a case of the “grass is greener”.
Jason and Jesus helped me see the “glittery” aspects to Liberty’s smooth and over-emailed admission process and how I allowed myself to be deceived.
While holding hands, Jason and I prayed to the Lord together:
Lord, we ask for Your forgiveness for all these things, the school mistake, the money we shouldn’t have spent. We are standing on Your promise in Hebrews that says we can come to Your throne of grace when we are in need of grace and mercy. Lord, we ask that You find favor upon as we seek a refund from Liberty University. Yes, Lord, send me to be a pastor. I will follow.
How amazing is our God! How giving is our God! How much grace does He lavish?
~ We will recoup about 75% of Fall tuition from Liberty
~ I enrolled in a local Designed to Disciple class, taught by a Pastor through our church Ministry Training Institute
~ I am looking into several other seminary programs, slowing my roll with God to listen for His direction, knowing with that spiritual sense of peace when I am in His will
So was this open door a test for me?
I think it was.
Did I fail when I said yes to Liberty’s seamless admission process?
Did Peter fail when he got out of the boat to meet His Lord?
We walk on water with Jesus as long as we keep our eyes on Him. If, like Peter and I, we take our eyes off … even for a minute … we sink, sometimes more slowly than others.
In Christ …
NO FAILURE IS FINAL
My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).
NEVER TOO LATE TO START ANEW, HE MAINTAINS PLANS FOR YOU UNTIL YOU GO HOME
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
FORGIVENESS IS GIVEN WHEN WE SEEK HIM
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
GRACE WE DON’T DESERVE POURS OUT … EVEN BEFORE WE ARE BENT AT HIS THRONE IN NEED
Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given (John 1:16).
AND whatever the failure, however you made a mistake, there is NO shame for those in Jesus:
I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame (Psalm 34:4-5).
Because today I pick up my cross and walk to Calvary, I trust Him to lead me to the next step, just as He led me gently out of a school He didn’t choose.
Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of the praise be heard;
He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
For You, God, tested us; You refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads, we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:8-12).
Often when we are tested, we are unaware of His purpose.
Let me encourage you. If you have had a “Peter” or “Julie” experience with Our Most Holy God, if you stay tethered to Him, He will grow your character.
The test becomes testimony.
We can rest knowing whatever we go through is for His glory.
Our lives laid down for Him are for Him to use for the praise of heaven.
Thank you for being here with me. Such changes, lickety-split, on the turn of a dime. So thank-full for our God whose character does not change. Yet, in His higher wisdom, we have hope, redemption, new starts and a secure future. There is nothing else that can guarantee your future but the Savior of the World.
Questions about faith in Jesus? Email me or reach out to a trusted believer in your area. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts? Anything to add? Feel free to comment here on the blog or privately at my email.
Have a blessed rest of this given day.
All photos in this post are from Pixabay.com.
Love in Christ,