Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Greatest Self-Help Book Ever Written

I will make an attempt this week to bring this blog home to a personal experience I have had over the past couple of years. My goal in this endeavor is not to shine a light on this rambling servant, but to be a witness to the awesome power and righteousness of our great God. The greatest self-help book ever written, the Holy Bible, has served as a reference guide, steering me towards the ultimate solution of “letting go and letting God.” This phrase has been repeated over and over since the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets in the creation of God’s Word. Through the prophets, God spoke to us and told us over and over again to give everything to Him and He would provide for our needs. God, through the enormous sacrifice of His son Jesus, forgave our transgressions and assured us that all we needed to do was to believe that Christ is the son of God, have faith, let go of our troubles and witness His wonderful intervention. In my past blogs I called this process, “Just make the ask.” Christ, as our intercessor, has worked His miracles over the ages in our lives and in the lives of our ancestors countless times and in countless ways. So how do we, as God’s children, continue to be so adamant about our own strength, our own abilities and our own talents when we know that we are nothing compared to our great God. Our society seems more tuned to helping us help ourselves, when the greatest self-help book was written years before the concept even existed. The Bible should be found in on several different shelves of our popular book stores, including self-help, counseling, non-fiction, among others. This way, everyone looking, seeking, would be able to locate it very easily.

Over these past few years, during my “transformation,” I have experienced Christ’s love and mercy over and over. It was because of this gentle love and encouragement that I have chosen to take the huge leap of faith to return to school, pursuing a Master’s in Divinity from Regent University. I am convinced that this is part of my purpose, my plan that God has laid out for me. When I finally gave up my wrestling match with God’s plan, I began a journey that has placed my trust in our great God, and has shown me how He works on our behalf, providing just what we need, just when we need it. Where I imagined problems with no apparent solutions, God showed me opportunities already laid out for me to grab on to. I consider that to be the greatest idea ever conveyed by an author who has our best interest at heart. I have yet to find a better one in any of the proclaimed self-help books.

I have gone through the motions of resigning a very lucrative job just two years shy of a full retirement, gaining admission to Regent University as a full time Master’s candidate and relocating to Virginia Beach. Some would look at this as a normal move to pursue a Master’s Degree. To put it mildly, this would be “playing it down” just a bit. Things have fallen into place on His time and for His plan, to the point that even I have been amazed, shocked at times at how “letting go and letting God” has actually worked. There was the problem of surviving when I decided to leave my employer with nothing to fall back on. None of the proclaimed self-help authors addressed this like it is addressed in the Bible. Persistent Prayer and meditation, giving my needs to God, brought about a stream of unanticipated refund checks from the IRS and HMO’s of all places, with the IRS increasing my refund due to a new tax break I had missed. These refunds would show up as my bank account and gas tank were both growing cold from inactivity.

I was given further signs as I searched for an apartment close to campus and was placed in the office of an apartment complex that is geared toward clients with pets, large pets. They have been very accommodating to Bruce, my very large Great Dane, who demanded a first floor apartment in order to avoid waking someone below as he galloped across the room. I have received additional signs of the “just in time” God as he once again sent my retirement money as my bank account and gas tank were drawing dust. This taught me that there is no shame in walking to the grocery store to cash in pennies saved over the “good years” in order to purchase bread for PB and J’s and a few dollars for gas. This was another blessing in that the total was well over $20 in pennies and loose change. I am still finding it very difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that I had saved that many pennies.

During this “transformation,” I am also providing funds for my son’s college education, a daunting task as I, too go back to school with questions of how to pay for it. When I received my award notice, the college and federal government were very generous and have provided the necessary funds for me to begin my education, and have done the same for my son. All of these things are happening despite my continual worries and anxieties of how to pay for it. He has provided an opportunity that I never thought would have existed, and now it has presented itself in fine fashion. Once again, I can’t seem to locate this chapter in the self-help books.

I was concerned that I would have a difficult time leaving my rental house with just thirty days notice, but my landlord could not be more obliging and is very supportive of my decision. I was concerned that my son would have issues with saying goodbye to his hometown friends, but has been helpful in the move and his return to college. I have suffered a traumatic accident while riding my bike, but was blessed with protection from a God who is not finished with me. I was concerned that my lack of employment would cause issues with my apartment application, but with God’s intervention, the complex has chosen to use my anticipated financial aid package as income on my application and I was easily approved. I plan to search for employment once I relocate that will allow me to serve God in the way He has planned, possibly getting involved with a Christian Counseling service or some similar program.

This is just a small sampling of all the blessings God has shown me on this journey and is demonstrating His support in each step. There is no other valid explanation. I have been witness to God’s greatness, His faithfulness to the promise so profoundly spoken throughout His Word that “He will not leave us, nor forsake us.” But I’m not a privileged character having any type of special status when it comes to positions in God’s army. I am but one of many who struggle with just how big our God can be, and how His timing can be impeccable, defying all the norms and demonstrating His mercy. My goal is now to convince others, even fellow believers, that He is just who He says He is, and that there are times when despite all of the ideas put forth by the self-help books, we are not in charge, not in control of our destiny and that our Creator has already mapped out these things for us. We just need to try harder at discerning just what God’s plan is, pay attention to the detour signs along the way, and begin working with Him, not against Him. My hope is that if you are reading this, you too may have that issue that seems so out of reach for anyone to resolve. Just remember, the Holy Spirit, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, said “fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you. I will uphold you in my righteous right hand.” I just seem to still be hanging on to my abilities when I have been shown over and over it’s far easier to get advice from the greatest self-help book ever written.

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