Navigating the Rapids, Part 2 (Scholar’s Compass)

Quotations

She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. — Revelation 12:2

Overheard in an Orchard

Said the Robin to the Sparrow:

“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”

Elizabeth Cheney, Streams in the Desert, October 10

Reflection

The last entry described how the tragedies in our lives can lead to new direction, even in our scholarly careers. And we must intentionally develop new habits to concretize those divine transformations.

It took months for me to be in a place to write or even think about work. I felt sick to my stomach just looking at my computer. After months of being uncomfortable, unsure, and unable to live like I used to, God gave me a new idea for what to study. When God disrupts your life, He doesn’t bring you out to fail.[i] God brought me out to bring me in to a new place of productivity, giving me the grace to write and work.

Flash forward to the morning of my dissertation proposal defense. I looked at my phone, hoping to see messages of encouragement from my family and friends. And there were several. But one message from a Christian friend stuck with me. The friend asked if I was prepared for this important event, ready with a power suit and talking points. Even though the author was intending to be helpful, my response of “no” to each point left me feeling even more insecure and in despair. I allowed the one negative message to overwhelm the good.

I cried out to Him. And in the midst of my tears, I heard a bird. The Holy Spirit reminded me: “Look at the birds of the air … Are you not worth much more than they?”[ii] Hearing that bird reminded me that God cares deeply for me. And so I walked to my defense, even while afraid and fighting back tears.

At the end of the meeting, my dissertation chair said, “I can tell your heart is in this work.” Would she have said that had I pushed ahead with my original plans, doing what I thought was the “easy way”?

What an amazing birth – just nine months before I was in the lowest pit of my life. And now God brought me to a place in which His plan was approved. From what felt like the end, God birthed a new beginning for me.[iii] Why do we doubt the ability of the Creator of the heavens and earth to create a new world for us?

Of course, the journey wasn’t easy – there was a lot of hard work and long days. Birth pains are a part of creating something new. Even when I was hours away from defending, I was tempted to give up. Only in retrospect do I recognize that we should expect opposition when we are close to a victory.[iv] Of course the enemy would oppose such a move toward fulfilling God’s purpose!

Just as the previous entry’s discussion of “post-pit practices,” God showed me that it takes more than one intensely emotional experience to make something permanent. In addition to the daily reminder from the songs of birds, I have had to invest time in internalizing the truth of God’s love for me. Reading, thinking about, speaking out loud His Word. We must be conscious of God’s love at all times.[v] A love that we can never be separated from.[vi] And that love is the foundation of our status as overcomers.[vii]

Questions

  1. What do you believe God wants to “birth” in your life?
  2. How might you be tempted to abort the painful process of birthing a new creation? What will help you resist that temptation?
  3. What reminds you of God’s love for you on a daily basis?

Prayer

Dear always-doing-a-new-thing God, thank You for new births in our lives. Help us press through the birth pains and opposition. Let us remember that whatever You command is for our good and for Your glory. On the journey, thank You for promising to always be there with us, even when we’re in over our head. Your love is a resting place for our soul and fills us up to overflow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Endnotes

[i]Deuteronomy 6:23
[ii]Matthew 6:26
[iii]Isaiah 43:19
[iv]Nehemiah 6:1-15
[v]I John 4:16 AMP
[vi]Romans 8:38-39
[vii]Romans 8:37


Scholars-Compass-image-40x40Note: Part of both the Scholar’s Compass series and Tamarie’s Navigating the Rapids series on the Emerging Scholars Network Blog. This post copyright Tamarie Macon 2015.

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Tamarie Macon

Tamarie Macon is a Provost's Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University. She studies Black fathers' parenting and how they promote the adaptive emotional development of their young children. She also teaches courses in Applied Psychology. She completed her PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan. She previously studied at Rutgers University and worked on Capitol Hill.

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