Sunday, November 27, 2005

In a few days...

So, next Wednesday, I will face again the exam that will decide my immediate future...either staying where I am, or moving forward into something completely new. I have done a lot of focused studying since I last took the exam, and feel confident that I can pass it this time around. Still, I do feel a fear of hearing those words again..."You didn't make it, Stephanie." After all the studying and hard work, to hear those words again would be more than a little upsetting.

But, I do not think courage means not being afraid. I think courage means doing what you have to do, even if you are afraid to do it. So, facing this exam again, and the possibility (however slim) of failure is an act of courage for me. Not too long ago, I would have let my first attempt be my last. The failure would have seemed so enormous to me, it would have been insurmountable. However, I have grown...and grown up...a lot since then, and I realize that the failure following my first attempt does not necessarily mean the next attempt will not be successful.

God continues to provide along the way of this new path. I have a free place to stay this time (thanks, Pat!), which is enormously helpful, since my hours at work were cut and my last paycheck was roughly $140 less than what I am accustomed to. I trust He will provide for my needs over the next couple of weeks after this trip, as funds will be especially tight until I get my next paycheck. Through all of this, I am learning more about God's heart toward us, and I know I can trust Him to meet my needs in His way, in His time.

I am currently reading "The Prayer of Jabez", by Bruce Wilkinson. A few years ago, when this book was so popular, I refused to read it. I tend to think that anything that gains popularity that quickly is more or less a gospel of the "feel good" variety. However, my niece, in her beautiful innocence, toddled over to me a couple days ago, carrying this book. She found it in one of the baskets in her room, where it had somehow become mixed in with all her baby things. It does not look like its rightful owner has even read it. When she handed it to me,though, I thought it was as good a sign as any that I should just give the book a glance.

I am only three chapters into the book, and it has already given me some new insight into things happening at this time in my life.

My prayers over the last few weeks have been along the lines of asking God to help me remember information so I can pass my exam so I can sell insurance so I can get into a better financial situation so I can bless my mom and dad and others...And none of those things are wrong things to ask for. However, I am realizing that, in being so specific about the blessings I am asking for, I am perhaps tying God's hands in other blessings He would like to give me, if only I would ask.

Jabez's prayer began with a simple, "Oh, that You would bless me, indeed...". He trusted in God's heart enough to believe that God desired good things for him, and desired to bless him. He did not ask for specific blessings. Only that he would be blessed indeed...which essentially translates to, "Oh, that You would bless me A LOT!".

However the Lord chose to bless Jabez, we will not know this side of heaven. However, He thought Jabez's prayer so significant that He had it written in His word. Jabez's simple prayer, which began for a request for God's big blessings, found its way into God's book of essentials.

God knows the desires of my heart. He knows how much I want to move forward in this new opportunity, not for the sake of my own financial gain (though that certainly is a consideration), but also in order to bless others as my own income grows. God knows that my deepest wish is to be able to assist my parents in their desire to either majorly renovate this house, or build a new house on the property. I would love to be able to give them the gift of major financial assistance as they do this. God knows that. He also knows the deeper desires of my be loved, to get married, to build a life with someone...He knows all of that. And He desires to give me good things.

So, in an act of faith, my prayers over the last couple of days have simply began with something along the same vein of, "Oh that You would bless me indeed....".

What a bold request. And yet, so obvious a thing to ask of God, who loves us and desires to give us good things.

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