We’ve all been there. A decision looms ahead, one that could take our life in one of two (or three!) very different directions. The excitement of having options transforms into anxiety that we will choose incorrectly. And if you are a person who believes in a good and powerful God, at some point you will probably pray, “What should I do!?”
Usually those questions are met with supernatural silence.
Does God not care about our future and his silence is therefore a giant celestial shrug? Or perhaps the problem is me: I’m not listening hard enough or trusting deeply enough.
John Ortberg suggests an alternative view, one that reframes our concerns about God’s will for our lives from actions and events to persons and character.
“God’s primary will for you is the person you become.”
I agree with Ortberg. I think God is far less concerned about who I will marry, where I will live, and what job I will pursue than he is about Who I Am while doing those things. And part of that character growth is God allowing us to make decisions for ourselves. His silence is not condemnation; it is opportunity.
Although I didn’t think about this issue with quite so much clarity, this train of thought helped me decide to move to Greece when the opportunity arose last year. I had two futures ahead of me: one in Dallas, where I would work at the private practice counseling center where I had put in 14 months of interning hours. I would stay at Trinity Fellowship Church and grow deeper in my relationships with friends and coworkers. The other future was in Athens, where I would stretch my skills as a counselor, participate in helping create a new organization, meet women from a background drastically different from my own, and struggle through life in a new country with a new language.
One was easier, and one was harder.
I don’t think God always calls people to the harder route, but I do think that character transformation happens more quickly when we choose to put ourselves into uncomfortable experiences.
I chose Greece. That doesn’t invalidate my possible future in Dallas; I have no doubt that God would have used me there. But I chose Greece, and I believe it is God’s will for me, because by choosing the harder path, I am choosing to learn humility, trust, joy, and compassion.
God’s will for me is that I grow into my birthright as a daughter of God. I think that will happen more quickly by moving to Athens. But even if I chose “wrong,” I am comforted by the fact that there is no “wrong” choice. God can mold me and mature me no matter where I go, who I befriend, or what I do.
(image by Luke Shavak)