For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2: 8-10
Ephesians chapter two was my Bible reading for today. This is a familiar verse, one I probably memorized for confirmation. As is common, when we are led by the Spirit through scripture, today it has a fresh meaning for me.
I am focusing on the last phrase "to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." The thought that circles in my poor addled brain is this: He prepared the works in advance; it doesn't say He prepared me in advance.
And boy, am I feeling that truth right now. I am, learning all over again, how to write papers with lots of the redundancies that make my past editors cringe. All my years of learning how to write have not prepared me for keeping professors happy; yet, this is the work He has prepared for me in advance.
I feel disoriented about many things for which I feel woefully unprepared. 26 years of teaching young children math, a GRE math score that puts me in the bottom 1/3 (excuse me, at least two standard deviations below the mean) and the work He has prepared for me includes statistics?
26 years of teaching children how to understand what they read and another 10 years of teaching adults how to teach comprehension and now I need to be able to read APA style (Barney, 1997) which puts (Dinglefritz, 2005) stupid (Carbuncle, 2009) references in the middle (Hoosenfuss, 1977) (Peabody, 2001) (Jingleheimer, et al, 2008) of what you are trying to understand.
26 years of wiping noses and solving petty arguments and now I am reading journal articles that are a whole new level of petty arguments. These are solved, not with familiar playground banter, but with huge meta-analysis studies. Yet, they still sound like "but, he said . . . ." Can you even put a theorist in a time-out?
This prepared me . . . how?
The only thing in my past that is working for me is years of convincing administrators that my idea is really their idea so they will be more comfortable allowing me to try it. (insert "professor" for "administrator").
Somehow I doubt this well honed skill will work with my committee. Sigh.
God doesn't prepare us in advance. He prepares us as we need it; sometimes the night before the test or moments before the paper is due. Sometimes He doesn't prepare us at all, and allows us to fail so we can learn something else. He doesn't dress us up in astronaut suits that take care of our every need, and put us in a ministry rocket that has been prepared and checked over and over again. He doesn't even warn us with a countdown. He simply sends us off; ready or not, here we go.
God does not prepare us in advance. God prepares the works in advance. He has the plan, He applies the grace. He knows where we are going to land and has prepared the work waiting for us.
Right now, I am selfishly praying for a soft landing.
Abba, father, amen.