Many of you probably know by now that I (Mark) completed my doctoral degree – a six-year journey – where I am now Dr. Mark Gordon Fee. So crazy! Excited, grateful, and relieved. The first three years were schooling – reading, classes, and many papers. The second three years have been working on my thesis (dissertation), especially the last 10 months. It has been like a full-time job. There were many difficult and overwhelming moments of discouragement and hopelessness. The primary reason I would feel this way was because although I love to learn, I hate to write and really struggle with it. When the Lord called me to pursue the degree so that I could teach my curriculum to seminary students, I said yes but with great fear and trepidation because of the dissertation. But in faith and obedience, I embarked on this journey with him, counting on his presence and power to be with me through it. And indeed, the Lord got me through it all. There were however several scary meltdowns over this year with wonderful stories of how the Lord met me and got me through. But I want to share the first one because it may bless you too! And because I could have never completed it without your encouragement and Heaven’s cheering me forward!
The first meltdown – sobbing, afraid, overwhelmed, paralyzed – was July, 2017 (more or less a year ago). I realized that I had about a year to complete the dissertation and I hadn’t even written the first chapter yet. I had actually tried twice before and failed. So I was still at the beginning. I had so much to do for FLM as well. I just didn’t see how it was going to happen. While praying, crying, wondering if I had heard him accurately, concerned about how it was impacting Robin and FLM, I received an email from my dear friend Peter Vantine with a link to a worship video (see video below). As I listened to the song (LionHearted) and focused on the lyrics, God breathed hope into my soul. I played it over and over that next hour crying the whole time allowing him faith to grow in me. Since that afternoon, I have probably played it upwards to fifty times or more over this past year and each time God used it to help me return to my computer and just work on one more paragraph. Below are the lyrics:
“What are you saying? (Lord?). What are you doing here? (Lord?). I’ve been clouded in my mind (I’m so clouded in my mind). Come and speak your words of life. You’re not in the chaos, or the storms all around me, ‘Cuz your closer than my breath, And I hear you riding on the wind, to sing this song (His words to me). Don’t give up now, Just keep going, Heaven’s cheering you forward. You’re almost there now, don’t stop running (writing). Heaven’s cheering you forward. Keep the faith, Keep the faith!
What are you saying? What are you doing? Oh, you’re holding out your hand, I love the way you lead me. It’s not in the lessons, you’re trying to teach me, Cause even when I can’t see, It’s your love that does the leading. (Chorus) Then this Bridge: (from the Lord’s heart) I’ve never stopped believing, I’ve never stopped speaking, I’ve never stopped moving At the sound of your cries (Mark). I’ve never stopped singing, I’ve never stopped believing, I’ve never stopped dancing Over you, my child. (I’m spinning, dancing, twirling all around you) There’s always hope in your daddy’s eyes.”
So many of you, in so many small and big ways, were Heaven’s presence to me and Heaven’s cheering me forward. Without you all and the Lord, this absolutely, positively would have never happened. It took the whole family of God to carry me on to completion and preventing me from quitting when I wanted to so many times. This was such an amazing journey of weakness, trust, living one day at a time, and learning how to press into Jesus and friends and family in my weakness which was huge growth for me and a blessing words cannot express. So thank you all again from the bottom of my heart. I hope you enjoy the video and experience Heaven cheering you forward in whatever difficult moment you find yourself in presently.