It’s hard to believe you’re coming up on your second anniversary! In those short years you’ve faced many hard decisions, huge change, and intense challenges. Now, at the end of grad school, you face some more. More open doors and some that may shut. All with their own set of consequences.
I’m writing you this now because Dad and I have been where you are. And I’m writing it here because you’re not alone. Many who read this are trying to discern God’s will – trying to decide:
- Should I quit this job?
- Move to this place?
- Marry this person?
- Break up with that person?
- Start a graduate degree?
- Take this risk?
So today I want to tell you about a time early in our marriage when we were trying to discern God’s will. We felt like we had outgrown the setting we were in and were prompted to open ourselves to a move. We prayed, sought counsel, and explored options. In the end Dad received a call to a large church across the country in a place where we knew no one. In a place with a different pace of life, different culture, and different values.
In both the process of deciding, and the reality of living the following two years, I think we learned some things about God and His ways. I’d love to share some of our lessons, just as I’d love to hear what you are learning in this season.
1. God’s will isn’t some ONE hidden secret icon that He’s trying to make difficult to discover and if you get it wrong it will be like a disaster scene out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
And if somehow you get off-track, we have a God who is in the business of redeeming. The God of infinity chances.
2. Sometimes you just need to ask, “What would be the most pleasing choice to you, Lord?” and decide. I love what Luke writes in Acts 15:28 when the apostles were making hard decisions for the young Jesus-following community:
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…
God didn’t speak through a megaphone, but the apostles prayed and listened and made the choice that seemed good. When we moved to D.C. nothing was totally clear, but it seemed like a God-honoring choice.
3. If you are married, God won’t lead one of you to one conclusion and your spouse to another. Pray and listen until you are united – both on the same page.
4. God’s main will for you is the person you become, not what you do or where you go or what title you have.
God’s primary will for your life is that you become a person of excellent character – one who loves Him and others with increasing devotion.
5. Just because it’s God’s will doesn’t mean circumstances will be easy. (I know…Not exactly what you wanted to hear, right?) This one threw me for a loop. Not that I thought life would be easy (exactly) if we were responding to God’s “Go!”, but when we moved to D.C. EVERYTHING was so hard it caused us to question at the time, “Lord, did we miss the memo? Did we get this wrong? Were we blinded by pride and the thought of bigger and better?”
“When God calls people to go through open doors, what generally happens is life gets much harder. Abraham leaves home and faces uncertainty and danger. Moses has to confront Pharaoh and endure endless whining from his own people. Elijah runs away from a power-crazed queen. Esther has to risk her life to prevent genocide…” John Ortberg
When we moved I was 8 months pregnant with you, Maggie, and had Katy who was 19 months old. We were moving away from family for the first time, to the place with the highest cost of living in the nation. No money. No community. There were no moms in our neighborhood. And Dad was feeling like a square peg in a round hole in his job. I (dramatically) felt like an Israelite in the wilderness.
But here’s the thing…Even if we made a mistake, God redeemed the time and grew us in ways we might not have grown elsewhere. And even though the circumstances never got better we experienced God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficulty. He knit us together in deeper love for Him and for each other in our little family.
You’ve already faced hard decisions, and we’ve marveled at your wisdom in drawing together your community of Jesus-followers to pray with and for you. We’re part of that community and we’re cheering you on as you enter this new season together.
Mom (and Dad :))
What decisions are the rest of you facing?