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?"
Who knows--maybe what Jesus wants for her is a career as a dog trainer, and her job at the vet's leads her to one at a dog groomer's, which leads to . . . Or maybe, as she is there at the vet's, she discovers that dealing with people comes naturally to her, and the Lord takes her a whole different direction--like ambassador to Argentina, or something equally un-thought of. The vet clinic turns out to be a piece of the puzzle rather than the destination--just one of the steps in the journey she began in faith, trusting that the Lord would lead her in the way He wanted her to go.
And it almost always takes awhile. For the One who is the Beginning and the End, what is twenty years? But to us or our highschool graduate, even six months can seem endless as we wait for God to reveal the next step or confirm whether we're supposed to camp here or move on. It may only be in hindsight that we see all the path the Lord has led us down. That's normal. The important thing is to make the journey with Him, taking each step in faith, not in our own wisdom or strength.
HOW DO YOU SPELL SUCCESS?
Contrary to what our society may try to portray, success is not measured in money, position, or the praise of men. Those are things of this world. In the Kingdom of God, success is measured in doing what the Lord prepares us for, thus bringing Him pleasure. What He asks us to do is what really counts. All else is wasted effort.
How refreshing to ponder the fact that whether your son is a doctor, or works for a trash collection service, makes no difference to Jesus. With the Lord, there are no positions of prestige, or perhaps more accurately, the position of prestige is individualized. That which God assigns is always the highest calling, whatever it may be, and what we do with what He asks us to do brings His blessing, ultimately determining whether our life has been successful.
So perhaps the college question is not really all that complex after all. Challenging, yes, as we endeavor to hold our young adults lightly, being on hand to help them sort out all the voices and tune in to the One who knows what is best for their future, and to walk beside them in each step of faith. But ultimately, it is as simple as asking, "Lord, what have you made my child to do, and how do you want him to get there?"
Leslie Wyatt has been married to her husband, Dave, for 23 years. They have six children ranging in age from 6-20, and have been homeschooling for 16 years.