By Elizabeth Spencer, Crosswalk.com
My young adult daughter is currently staring down a big decision; she’s trying to decide if she wants to relocate her life a thousand miles from home and look for her first official post-college job in that new and largely unfamiliar place. Helping her navigate this decision is also new and unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve tried to guide my children in plenty of choices over the years -everything from what to wear to Homecoming to where to go to college. But this is next-level decision-making.
As with all of parenting, I’m learning as I go, building a boat while I’m at sea, as it were. Along the way, I’ve found five pieces of what I believe to be Biblically sound counsel to offer my daughter and, I pray, help steer her toward the safe harbor she’s longing for (Psalm 107:30 CSB).
1. God wants you to know and do His will.
God’s will is not a mystery; He’s clutching to Himself. Nor is it a carrot He dangles in front of you, only to snatch it back when you get just close enough to grab it. God’s longing is for you to know and do His will: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
To help you “learn” to know His will (and note the process reflected in that word…this is not a one-day class you attend but rather a lifelong study in continuing education), God provides you with a manual: His Word. He provides you with instructors: parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, counselors, ministers. He provides you with study partners: friends and cohorts who are either learning the same lessons alongside you or have already taken the class and are willing to share some of their notes. And He provides you with a personal tutor: the Holy Spirit.
2. God’s will is not stingy.
God’s will is not the tiny point at the center of a dartboard. His will IS the dartboard, and your job is to get on it and not hit the wall: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’” (1 Corinthians 10:23-26 NIV).
If you are leaning toward a particular decision and you are not willfully disobeying Scriptural commends or precepts to the contrary, dishonoring a prior commitment, or ignoring the contrasting advice of trusted counselors (including nudges or all-out shoves from the Holy Spirit), then go ahead and put your whole self in and trust God to help you make the best and most of that choice.
Photo credit: © Unsplash/Conner Ching
3. You don’t have to know exactly where the journey will take you to take the first step.
When Psalm 119 describes God’s Word as “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 ESV), it is not referring to a 6000-lumen, LED tactical flashlight capable of illuminating a football field’s worth of the road ahead of you. No, the “lamp” referenced here would have been a shallow clay bowl holding oil and a bit of flax or linen serving as a wick. The “light” it produced would have been just enough for the person holding the lamp to see to take the next step directly in front of him or her.
Technological advancements aside, this is still the kind of lamp and light God intends His Word to be to you today. He’s not asking you to make the decision in front of you based on all the steps that will ultimately be involved. He’s asking you to fill your clay bowl with the oil of wisdom, hope, and confidence in who He is. He’s asking you to light the oil with the fire of faith. And then He’s asking you to take the first step on the path He’s illuminating ahead of you.
4. God’s priority is always your relationship with Him.
God is big on relationship. It’s one of the main reasons He created humankind: He wanted fellowship with us. As a result, any decision that lines up with Scripture and has the potential to feed your relationship with God is probably something He’s going to be in favor of.
God is also greatly pleased by faith; in fact, there’s literally no pleasing Him without it. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11: 6 NIV). Walking in the light (see #3, above) of God’s works you can already see is gratitude, but faith requires stepping out and trusting what you can’t see yet. Because God prizes faith so deeply, if you’re thinking of making a decision that’s likely to cause you to depend more on God, seek Him more, draw closer to Him, you can be pretty confident you’re on the right path…God’s path.
5. Your job is the input, not the outcome.
Much as you may wish you could, you cannot entirely control the outcome of the decision you’re making. Other people with their own free will are almost certainly going to get involved, which means things may get messy. But God is God of redemption. “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (Romans 8: 18-21 NLT).
Even if others make wrong choices—and/or even if you, despite your best efforts, make a “wrong” choice—God is not going to wash His hands of you and say, “Oh, well, I can’t do anything with them now.” As with all of life on this imperfect earth, there will be positives and negatives behind any door you open. But Jesus IS the door (John 10:9 ESV). So make the best choice you can under the circumstances given all the information you can gather, and then walk through your chosen door with faith that God loves you, He’s pleased with you, and He wants His best eternal good for you.
Dear young adult, God knows the plans He has for you (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). God knows, so if you don’t feel like you know just yet, that’s okay. God knows the plans He has for you: plans, not guesses or fingers-crossed wishes or possibilities. He knows the plans He has for you: God’s plans are not one-size-fits-most but rather tailor-made and divinely designed just for you (and yet, at the same time, for the benefit of others, per His emphasis on relationship). They are plans to give you hope and a future: they are forward-facing and breath to your spiritual lungs. So seek God’s will, add discernment to your faith, and then take a big breath and that big step.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
Elizabeth Spencer is a wife, mom, freelance writer, baker, Bible study facilitator, and worship leader from Battle Creek, Michigan. She writes about faith, family, and food (with some occasional funny thrown in) on her blog, Guilty Chocoholic Mama, and on Facebook. She is the author of the devotional Known By His Names: A 365-Day Journey From The Beginning to The Amen.