“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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV)
It’s high time for me to “seek Him with all my heart.” It’s time to let his plans and agenda supercede my own.
In this last year, I have faced major losses — my oldest cousin and a dear friend, my beloved canine companion, and finally, my job. In addition, I have tried to be strong in dealing with major health issues faced by my significant other — open heart surgery, thyroid cancer (surgery and treatment), and prostate cancer (surgery and treatment). In the midst of a panicked job search, we have recently learned that the thyroid cancer may have recurred.
The circumstances surrounding my job loss are both budgetary and political — there is a great deal of uncertainty, and resultant unrest as to the future of higher education in the state and declining revenues and demographic projections have created a significant budget crisis. In the time that I have held the job (a brief 2 1/2 years), I have worked with 3 different President/CEOs at the institutional level — one of whom resigned under the threat of a vote of no confidence, and the others were brought in to calm the masses on a temporary basis (the founding President, who is a spry 82 but disillusioned at the state he found his “child” in, ultimately returned to retirement; and the current “Interim,” who appears to be a peacemaker that can get things done as all wait for a declaration of fate); there have been 2 system Presidents at the state level and 2 Board chairs — the first of each resigning under clouds of misdeed; all of my direct colleagues are in “Interim” status, and I have worked with at least 2 different people in each of those 4 positions. The positions of ten people were eliminated as of the beginning of the academic year in July to produce cost savings — because of the terms of union contracts these people were the most vulnerable, but not the most expendable. Thus, there has been no unification of voice to give solace to anyone or to allow operations to proceed in a productive manner. In all of this chaos, the ultimate status and future of the institution I work for is unknown. Once I started seeking employment elsewhere, it gave the impression that I was willing to abandon the sinking ship, which, admittedly I was, and I lost a great deal of internal support. Thus, because of this, and given budgetary concerns, in order to salvage my prospects of maintaining a career in my chosen field, I was given the option of accepting a settlement and seeking other employment throughout the last six months of this year. I accepted the settlement. While I have had several great interviews and some outstanding opportunities seem to be available to me — the end of the term looms without a solid resolution.
Meanwhile, my significant other decided to take advantage of his veteran’s benefits and have a check-up last year. The discovery of significant blockages in his arteries got the ball rolling to multiple surgeries and follow-up — with the main hospital being an hour and a half from where we live, and the secondary hospital being in another state. Thus, I found myself traveling back and forth across the state while he was being treated at the main hospital, and alone for 9 weeks while he was being treated at the secondary one. During these times, our beloved Zoe (an Alaskan Malamute) — went toxic from an infection caused by a benign tumor, and was saved through emergency surgery; developed pneumonia, from which she recovered through treatment; and ultimately succumbed to cancer) — she was almost 13 years old, and we were very blessed to have had her in our lives for that long. We were both with her at the end, which has been extremely difficult for me to process, but I know that it was necessary. She was an integral part of our lives, and went with us everywhere. She was particularly close to my significant other since he was retired and they spent their days at one another’s side. She enjoyed her time with us, and because of her sweet nature and mischievous ways, made many friends. She loved to travel and enjoyed good food and accommodations. Her loss has left a void, particularly at this time.
In addition, in the midst of all of the above, I was unable to go back to Michigan to attend the funeral of my cousin Sally. While I was able to view it on a DVD, I wasn’t able to be with the rest of the family as they remembered and mourned. In fact, until a month ago, I hadn’t seen any of my family in person for 4 1/2 years.
After I was given my settlement options, a dear friend who could always be counted on to invoke a smile, who had helped us all whenever we needed him, and had certainly helped me through the times when my significant other was in the hospitals (in the midst of a blizzard), was taken from us suddenly as a result of a massive heart attack.
So, as I was looking for inspiration and encouragement in dealing with my situation — I stumbled upon daily devotionals entitled “The Four Spiritual Secrets” by Pastor Dick Woodward. http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/the-four-spiritual-secrets/
I was particularly struck by two of these: God’s Agenda and Ours; and When God Wants to do a New Thing
In God’s Agenda and Ours, Pastor Woodward clarifies that His agenda supercedes ours.
In When God Wants to do a New Thing, Pastor Woodward notes that when God wants to to a new thing in our lives, He is faced with three challenges — He has to: (1) get us out of the old; (2) ease us through the transition; and (3) get us settled and right in the new. In order for this to occur — we have to be wiling to cooperate with Him as he works with us through these challenges.
These are both issues that I struggle with.
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, the one who called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10, NIV)
Blessed is the [wo]man who endures trial, for when [s]he has stood the test [s]he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12, NIV)
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:16, NIV)
Reflection and Prayer(s)
Am I willing to let God’s agenda take precedent over mine?
Am I willing to cooperate with Him as we work through the challenges he faces in changing me?
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, NIV)
Our Father, may everything I do begin with Your inspiration, continue with Your help, and reach perfection under Your guidance. With Your loving care guide me in my daily actions. Help me to persevere with love and sincerity. Teach me to judge wisely the things of earth and to love the things of heaven. Keep me in Your presence and never let me be separated from You. Your Spirit made me Your child, confident to call You Father. Make Your love the foundation of my life. Teach me to long for heaven. May its promise and hope guide my way on earth till I reach eternal life with You. AMEN.