No, this post is not about the scale in my bathroom. I have discerningly stayed off that scale for the last few months:).
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Just when we get settled in a pattern, another decision is thrown at us. This year has provided me myriad opportunities to speak with women about God’s will. Each of us lives with an idea of God’s will–some more stringent than others. (Weirdly enough, I have found that the more one clings to the Sovereignty of God, the less anxious one is about “missing” God’s will. Maybe I should do an informal study.)
I spend the majority of my time with young adult women at a time in their life where lots of decisions are being made. What to study? Where to apply for jobs? What to do with my life? Where’s the man I thought would be here? Should I settle for an okay guy that makes me feel wanted or should I hold out for someone with greater spiritual maturity and integrity? Is there a guy out there with spiritual maturity and integrity? What city should I live in? Is it okay to do something I like or is that not what God wants me to do? Should I buy this house, this car, or should I stay with my parents?
Do you know a theme I have discerned? People are more concerned about the right and lefts of taking a job or moving than they are with the everyday decisions to pursue God by pursuing holiness. God’s word tells us of people who were called out of their lands to do crazy things (aka Abram, Jonah, Moses–etc). People fixate on this thought. God’s word, more than anything, tells us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, strength and to grow in His character by the power of the Spirit in the gospel’s truth. Let’s face it–it is just more “sexy” and exciting to talk about big decisions than the daily decisions to pursue Him. It takes less committment on our parts to think about the “big” stuff than to think daily about surrender and where our affections turn. I hear so much fear in making a mistake and missing where God “wants” me in the big stuff (like marriage and moving etc), but I do not hear a fear about the everyday. Is it not our everyday decisions that make us who we are? In parenting, everyday consistency and love means more than that Disney vacation–right? So, what about making decisions daily for purity in our hearts? Dawson Troutman says “you are what you are now becoming.” Hmm.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 says the will of God is our sanctification. Romans 12:1-2 says to present ourselves as living sacrifices holy and acceptable–renewing our minds daily in Him instead of the world so that we can discern the will of God. Somewhere along the way, people are being taught more about a God of “fate” or a “genie” God more than one you follow with all your heart in order to worship Him and treasure Him in every decision (how to react to my toddler, what to watch on tv, how to spend my money at Target).
From my growth over the years, I see that God is more concerned with our heart’s devotion than righting or lefting us to Minneapolis, Podunkville, Tennessee, or China. There has been ONE time where I knew for certain WHERE I was to be–that was a call to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. That was my Abram out of Ur moment. Funny, I do not know all of God’s purposes, but I do know that as an 18 year old, I would never have guessed that He was calling me there to suffer and die to myself and see my sin. In my limited vision, I could have gone to a Christian school that I decided on my own and grown more in self-confidence, leadership, and selfishness. I know, sounds opposite, huh? But, He had me go to a place where I was shunned because of my stand for Him. I learned humility, dependence, need–and that I was sinful and He was graceful. He could have done that anywhere because He is God, but He purposed it at UTK. What did He purpose? Not a husband, not lifelong reunions with girlfriends, not a ministry–He purposed my sanctification.
As I said, my ONE time, in 35 years that I “heard” an exact location and call from God. ONE–not even in the who do I marry category did I get that one. In starting a ministry and leaving the world of consistent paychecks, I did not get a distinct “word” from God. In infertility, there are a lot of decisions to make–IUIs, hormones, IVFs, embryo adoptions, international adoptions, domestic adoptions, childlessness forever. I have not gotten a firm read on any of it. Has God abandoned me? By no means! Has He grown me in countless ways in all different places in the country and in my heart? Yes!
Well, I got another shock to the “what is God’s will” system the other day in a phone call. I was offered the opportunity, yet again, to apply for my “dream” job. (At least my dream job from a couple of years ago). I would have to turn from full time ministry to take it. Financially–wow, would it help. I want to pray about it–and I am. As I look, I see there could be many ways I could grow the kingdom there. There is no “wrong” in this situation. There might be a best–but a best in different categories. “Best” financially would be applying for the job–can we say downing lots of future debt and prepping for retirement, possible adoption costs, etc–those things are not ungodly. “Best” in the way I have been growing and maturing and walking deeply with people would be staying where I am–continuing to grow and invest in WDC. The last few months have afforded me so many opportunities to see fruit in the lives of people I have been investing in. I have seen fruit in my life–fruit that does not come from one day–but many years of surrender. I have been content in what God is doing. Growth as a leader, artist, shepherd, disciple has come.
Do I still wonder–Does God want me to take this job? Yes. I have a bit of the “right” and “left” leadership of God still in me from my teenage years. Do I want to continue growing where I am? Yes. Am I seeking God in the middle? Yes. One of my favorite songs ever–“Hold it up to the Light”–says “I am mourning the loss of the choices I’d lose.” (It’s a song about faith and decisions by David Wilcox.) I reflect yet again on that line. Sometimes I think I (and we) can make decisions and opportunities as idols. We have this sense that the decision itself will crush our lives if we do not do it right. (For example, if I do not apply for the job, a chain of events leading to my demise will occur where I will never have a child and my marriage will go to pot and I will miss leading myriad people to Christ.) Does that give God power and glory or the decision the power and glory? God wants us to trust and worship Him in the midst of all of life. In moments like these, I take a deep breath and know that day after day I have been in His word and have been surrendering to His leadership. I ask, trusting Him and His presence that is there day after day, “what do I desire to do?” I desire to continue serving with WDC and pouring out full time into young women and women of all ages. Does a new job sound exciting, sexy and full of economic promise? Yes. Would there be benefits to taking it? Yes. Would God work there, too? Yes. I choose to stay and offer God what I do here.
If you happen to see me on the side of the road with a “will work for food” sign, you know that I got this all wrong and should have been looking for a sign to go right or left!