Is that you, Lord?

Even for adults who have spent years at it, discerning the voice of God from all the other voices isn't always easy. As Elijah found out, the Lord doesn't often speak in a whirlwind or flash of fire. Answers usually don't burst upon us in Technicolor. Yet because the Lord is faithful and because He really does care, He will begin to unfold His plans if we will but continue to seek them and be willing to follow them. This process can be stretching, and the tendency is to do as King Saul did when Samuel didn't show up at the time he was expected--to jump ahead and make a decision without really hearing from the Lord. It didn't turn out well for Saul, and the same holds true today. We can't afford to act without His leading and His blessing.

Another thing that complicates the process is confusion over "good" things vs. "God" things. Few people actually rush out desiring to be involved in something bad. Most teens, full of zeal and energy, want to impact the world for good, and there are many good things to be involved in. But even in these, there is need for caution. Although Jesus "went around doing good," He also only did what He saw His Father doing--even at such places of need as the Pool of Siloam. He had the power available to Him to heal all that were there that day. But He only healed one man, because that was what God wanted Him to do, and in so doing, Jesus pleased God more than if He'd healed everyone there.

It is imperative that we remember this principle. We so often feel pressure to make a difference in peoples' lives that we can end up trying to choose the path that to our minds will impact the greatest number for the Lord. But Jesus also tells a parable in which people said to Him, "Didn't we heal in your name, and cast out demons, and raise the dead?" And His reply was that He never knew them, implying that although they were doing all those wonderful things in His name, they had acted on their own initiative instead of coming to Him to ask His will. As someone once said, "The need does not constitute the call." Only what is done at God's bidding will be gold, jewels, and precious stones. The rest--even raising the dead--will be only wood, hay, and stubble in our relationship with Jesus, if He has not asked us to do it.

Weighing pros and cons, likes and dislikes, and then making a decision based on your findings does have its place--like when choosing which toothpaste to buy. But when we need direction, we need to remember that weighing both sides of the issue is not the same thing as hearing from God. Gathering information is great--but ultimately, we need to lay it in front of Him and hear what He wants us to do with it.

The purpose of this article is not to give the latest info on college and its alternatives. There are so many options these days! Open an internet search on the subject and you can tap into more links than Missouri has chiggers. But only Jesus can lead you and your graduate down the path that will allow him to fulfill the position and function he was created for.

Maybe it will be a combination of correspondence, portfolio, and CLEP tests. An on-campus class/music lesson may figure in the Lord's picture. Or not. Perhaps He will lead in the direction of hiring on with a local builder, caterer, or other artisan, or a thousand and one variations that tap into individual talents and strengths. Heaven is the limit, since God is so creative!

Often we may have a sense of direction, but lack specific application. In that case, we need to take the one or two steps we can see, and take them in faith, looking to the Lord for guidance. For example, if your daughter is interested in veterinary medicine, maybe she could volunteer at a vet clinic. Perhaps when she gets into it, though, she finds out that while she still loves animals, she can't stand the surgery aspect and parasites make her sick. So you all take these findings to the Lord and ask Him, "What next?"