Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Amazing Grace

I started working on my doctorate last year in applied clinical psychology and the interesting thing about my cohort (see Hope Within Collaborative to view our developing site) is that I'm the only one without field experience, or at least I was when the first semester commenced and finished.  Most of the students I collaborate with are already practicing therapists or registered interns, so in a way I felt like the "baby" of the group, though my age assured me I was not the youngest of the bunch.  When I worked on my master's degree, my program didn't require me to do a practicum or internship, so I continued working in a completely unrelated field as an HRIS Analyst throughout my time as a student.  It's not that I didn't want to work in the field I was studying, but the irony of applying for jobs over the years has been that while everyone wants someone with experience, no one was willing to hire me to provide sought experience.  Until recently. A few months ago, I found myself casually applying for non-licensed therapist type positions, not really expecting or looking for a response from any one employer, and as I clicked on the Easter Seals job page, I applied for a couple of positions and then closed my browser.  Had I not received an email from my school within the next hour about an upcoming career workshop hosting none other than Easter Seals, I probably wouldn't have given my previous applications a second thought, but because it was so coincidental that I had just finished applying for positions with them, I began to pray.  "Okay, Lord, what's up? Is this from You? Do You want me to go to that career workshop?" I asked in curiosity.  It was two weeks away at the time and I marked my calendar to attend.  What happened between then and now is nothing short of God's amazing grace.

Vines Dictionary provides half a page of biblical exposition on the term "grace," but a simple way of summarizing it in this situation is to call it God's undeserved favor, and I am a walking testimony of just that.  I went to the workshop at the school's L.A. campus with grand ideas of how God was going to supernaturally cause me to be hired on the spot that very day, but the reality was much less appealing.  As the hosts discussed the type of therapy Interventionists would use, I became painfully aware that I knew next to nothing of ABA Therapy and I walked out with my head hung low, not anticipating anything to result from my attendance that day.  Two weeks later I received an unexpected call from one of  the company's recruiters and before the end of the day we had a second conversation in which an on-site interview was scheduled for a couple weeks out.  "You'll have to sell yourself," he told me, and though I wanted to ask him "HOW!" I played it cool ("cool" went something like this: "Sell myself? Umm...oh, sure. Yeah, okay I can do that.." all the while wondering how in the world I would do that) and began to pray.  I ordered a book on ABA Therapy and purposed to teach myself the ropes between then and the on-site interview.

During that same time, however, I had some personal issues occurring that left me completely sidetracked and in prayer over other things.  Throughout the days, God was nudging me to re-focus and read the book, and though I read through parts of it, I never made it to the end by the time the interview came around.  Upon arrival the day of the interview, they handed applicants a questionnaire testing our knowledge of, you guessed it, ABA Therapy.  As I scanned the questions, I hung my head again and began to pray, but this time for God's grace.  "Lord, I know I messed up.  I know that I would know the answers to these questions had I finished the book.  I'm so sorry, Father, but please, cover me in Your grace and let me find favor in Your eyes that I might find it in theirs," was pretty much the exact Jacob style prayer (Genesis 32:26) I prayed that morning.  I knew I had dropped the ball by not reading the book He had led me to purchase and read, and I knew that my own merit was insufficient to lead to a hire, so I said my prayers and purposed to just be me and let God be Him. It worked.  God's grace enveloped me and I was unofficially hired that day and told to be ready for training in the upcoming weeks.  As I drove home that afternoon, I was in shock because the truth of the matter is this - I'm not qualified to do the job, but if any of you receive email from me, then you know that the signature on my outgoing messages says this: "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called," and this is only one of many times in my life that He has proven this to be true.  I've never been qualified for anything He has called me to do, but because of His amazing grace, He always sees me through.

When I got home that day, I went to check the mail and on the top was an envelope from Joyce Meyer Ministries that had one big word splashed across the front: "GRACE."  It was the very thing I had prayed for only hours earlier.  I smiled and told the Lord thank you because He and I both knew that His grace, His undeserved favor, was the reason behind my hire. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that His grace is sufficient for all our needs and that His power is made perfect through our weaknesses.  Notice that it doesn't say His power is made perfect through our strengths, but through our weaknesses.  Paul continued by saying that He was pleased to be weak if it meant that Christ's power would rest on Him and that's how we also should view our weaknesses.  They are not something to despise, but are windows through which we can view God's sovereign power and might.  Take Nick Vujicic for example.  He was born without arms or legs, but today leads a worldwide ministry that instills hope and love to millions.  How?  Because of God's amazing grace through his weaknesses - weaknesses Nick has now come to appreciate as the outlet through which God's power pulses.  Don't see your weaknesses as a handicap, but view them in the light of God's Word.   1 Corinthians 1:27 says that He has chosen the weak of the world to put to shame those who believe they're strong without Him.  Those who believe they're strong enough without God and don't believe they need Him, or worse, that He doesn't even exist, He calls foolish and corrupt (Psalm 14:1), so just know that if you have weaknesses, you're in good company because it is in and through those very weaknesses that the Creator of heaven and earth will show up strong and lavish you with His amazing grace.
Photo credit stylegerms.com

Proverbs 3:5-6 says this: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Are you trusting in yourself or Him today?

 Youtube video credit at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO7KVCGQRyQ

1 comment:

  1. Your blogs ALWAYS inspire me. How easily I can become disappointed in myself, in others around me. The day is NOT meeting my own expectations. How helpless I feel and can listen to the enemy's voice encouraging the disappointment. To know the Lord uses these very times of weakness to show His grace to us. We can expectantly look forward to those more difficult situations with the hope of grace rathern than defeat. Thank you for your insightful words and encouragement!