Moving Ahead of God: My Recent Spiritual Spankings

Many of you know that I recently enrolled in a doctoral program, reluctantly, but completely convinced it was God's will for me. Having complete my Master's online through Liberty, I was familiar with the setup, so after taking the plunge to enroll, I resorted to my old habits.

I found success, previously, in looking at what was required of my courses, and just knocking out all the items based on my comfort. I hated (AND STILL HATE!) discussion boards, so I would take a Saturday to just write all my discussion boards for the entire semester. Quizzes were lightwork for me, so I would take a day or night to just knock those out too. One of my proudest moments was when I completed a class 4 weeks in advance because it was summer, and I wanted to take a school-less trip to Mexico for a week. Those methods worked for me for my Master's, and I finished a 3 year degree in 1 year.

Now- I know a doctorate is not the same as a Master's, but the same task-oriented concepts seemed like they should've applied. The week before classes began, I sat down to write out how many discussion boards, case studies, article reviews, etc. that I would need to write throughout the 8 week semester.  Things looked like they were going to go well, until this weekend (I'm only 2 weeks in LOL, so thank you Lord for the quick humbling) when I became frustrated and overwhelmed at my inability to complete my assignments quickly. I'm like, "Lord? What's going on here? This ain't right." As I sit here just having avoided a panic attack, I'm compelled to write down what the Holy Spirit has communicated to me this weekend.

If God calls you to it, HE intends to take you through it. Don't try to take the reins.
Without a doubt, I know that God called me to pursue my doctorate, and for that reason, I know that I am in His will by pursuing it. That realization, however, didn't stop me from trying to take control. I prayed and fasted about the decision to enroll, yet once enrolled, I pretty much said, "OK God, I've got it from here." So far, this mentality has not yielded much fruit for me LOL.

(me..the cowboy, trying to be in control)

So often we unknowingly attempt to cut off God's leading in our lives. We sell ourselves short by thinking that we can resort to our own understanding at a certain point despite God's directions that lead us to our new chapter. We walk by faith to get an answer from God, but consciously subconsciously don't rely on that same faith to walk us through the entire journey to the final destination. The Bible says, "Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not lean on your own understanding." God desires to plant the seed in our lives, water that seed, and be there for its harvest. Don't push Him out the process. You need Him in reaping season, just as you needed Him when it was time to sow.

What has God asked you to step out on faith to do, yet you have determined to have a faith quota and start to take matters into your own hands?

You cannot get to the product without enduring a process.
This part is embarrassing, but I am so task-oriented, so when professors give text readings, presentations, website links, etc., I always interpret those as optional like speed limits. I only look at the tasks I need to do to get grades, complete them, and move on. Teachers make the worst students. *shrug* Imagine my surprise when I procrastinate all week, because I underestimated the work I need to do, sit down to write a paper, only to realize I have no clue what I'm talking about because reading the text laid the foundation for the entire assignment. I stressed myself out and crammed 3 major assignments in during the last 24 hours, only to submit subpar work because I never read the material. Seriously, I'm ashamed, plus I'm paying for this... LITERALLY.

Here's what the Holy Spirit whispered to me, "You cannot jump to the end and think you'll have success, when you decided to forfeit the process that prepares you with what you need to succeed." WOW. Talk about conviction. This is me all the time, not even just in schoolwork. The root of this is a common theme in my life: impatience. 😰 The Christian walk is not to be rushed.

It reminds me of today when I was starving and decided to get carry out from Cracker Barrel. I loveeeeee me a nice fried chicken tenderloin meal with mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn, and biscuits plus the baked apple dumplin for my appetizer. I didn't have time *face palm* to dine in, so I ordered it To Go. I had such high expectations for my meal because whenever I dine in, it's amazing. So I have my food all in my bag, get to my hotel to sit down and eat it, touched it, and it was cold.😑 In fact, they didn't give me any silverware, and really, since I was in a rush and no longer near the restaurant, there was nothing I could do about it. I ordered To Go because I was in a rush, and I thought that since it was the same meal, it would still be good carried out for my convenience than when I sit in the restaurant to eat it #wastemytime2017

If we're not careful, we will find ourselves settling for subpar results, all because we allowed our impatience to skip important parts of the preparation process because we were in a rush to get to a certain endproduct. If God calls us to the product, why wouldn't we want to yield to His process? After all, it's His plan. How foolish is it to think that we can bypass the Designer's plan and still walk away with His intended design?

God calls us to do impossible feats, not by our own power, but through submitting to His. When God wants to elevate you, He requires your humility. Your gifts and talents are not the vehicle needed to prosper.
God doesn't need our help. Let me say that again. God does NOT need our help, yet for some reason, we think He does. The more I grow spiritually, the more I realize that when God directs my steps to do something big, that's not my opportunity to get prideful or take credit. Anyone remember getting their hair braided, and reaching up to check on the braider's (your Mama's) progress, only to have your hand swatted?

So often we want to say, "YEAH, Look at me. Look at what God has me doing." As if we deserve the calling based on our own merit. No. Sit down. Be humble. We have to get to a point where we truly understand that God desiring to use us to do incredible, beyond-us things, has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Him.

If I'm being honest, I knew God called me to get my doctorate, but I also was trusting in my own intelligence. School has usually come easy for me, and I love learning. I was gifted identified at an early age and can write a 1,000 paper about nothing but make you think I know what I'm talking about LOL just did so tonight. As I started my coursework, this was the mentality I had, unfortunately, so as I've been wrestling with the Lord because He's humbling me, it's been painful. He's pruning old habits, that have worked for me, out of my life. Everything isn't coming as easy as I thought, and I'm having to make adjustments, like actually reading the textbook and the professor's announcements LOL. I'm having to manage my time better so I can devote time to reading and working on my assignments. The Lord is humbling me about my work ethic and not just submitting assignments 30 seconds before they're due. He wants to be sure that none of my success is by my own merit, but all through His work.

You see, God doesn't call us to tasks because we have an ability that someone else doesn't. He doesn't want us to accomplish something and take the credit for it. More and more I'm learning that God puts things on my plate to force me to rely on Him because I'm a hard-headed knucklehead that needs to be humbled often. Stop thinking you're doing God a favor, and be humbled enough to recognize Him using you is a special privilege. Other vessels are available.

2 weeks into this thing and your girl is learning she's nothing special without God, and she's going to have to cling to Him to add EdD to her name. At the same time, I appreciate this redirection from God. When I make it through this degree, because He already said that I will, I'm going to be able to look back and say, "Listen, I can't take ANY credit for this. I know it was the Lord who got me through. He gets all of the glory."

Today I'm reminded that He is God, and I am His child. He knows what's best for me. My anxiety and impatience ALWAYS get the best of me, but He is my Shepherd who gently leads me to any and every thing I need to be successful and fulfilled. If God called me to get my doctorate, why would I think that He can't see me through it successfully? We have to get to a point where we disallow fear from making us question God. He doesn't have to tell us every detail of His plan; He's God, and it's a perfect plan. That's all we need to know. We just need to trust that He knows best and cling to Him for dear life hold His hand all the way through.

Going Back and Reading My Textbooks,

PS Shoutout to those who have encouraged me these last few weeks AND those who have given tough love 😆

Dear God, You are amazing. I thank You that You can correct me in such a loving way. I've been wrong for trying to pursue success on my own, not realizing that the lesson here is to cling to You, no matter how hard the task becomes. Success comes because, in You, we are victorious, but we have to submit to the process to obtain the product. Strengthen our faith. Build our patience. Bind Satan and his attacks that seek to discourage our plight. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. What a privilege to be Your children. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Vashawn Mitchell- Joy