So, in my family we’re thinking about potential college choices. Our oldest son is a high school senior and just about ready to go out and conquer the world. Aren’t they all? How does a 17-year-old kid make a decision about where he wants to go to college and what he wants to do for the rest of his life?
Did you know there are about a zillion colleges in the United States, and that we’ve received enough promotional mailings to start our own landfill? From near-weekly Washington University (St. Louis) postcards to Olivet Nazarene’s oversized full-color magazine to Baylor University’s virtual reality viewer, and tons of brochures in between, I see why the cost of college is astronomical based on printing and postage alone.
Tyler had suggested covering his bedroom walls with all of the flyers and letters, then throwing a dart blindfolded and whichever school it hit, that would be the one to attend. In which case he’d likely end up at either Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland or California University of Pennsylvania, both of whom have probably spent the equivalent of a small nation’s GNP on promotional literature mailed to our home. And no, California University of Pennsylvania is not a misprint.
So how do we go about making such life-changing decisions: Should I get married? To whom? And when? What career path should I pursue? Should I take this job offer? Where should I live? Should I rent or buy a home? When should I think about retiring? What should I be doing in my retirement? What’s the right decision to make about health care for my ailing parent? How should I divide out my estate?
I’ll start with this premise: God knows the way we should go, and He goes with us every step of the way. For Christ-followers, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit guides us all along life’s journey. Not every fork in the road comes with a neon sign pointing out the path to choose, but the Spirit never leaves us without help. Here are five ways the Holy Spirit guides:
1. He opens up the Word of God. The Bible provides illumination for every step we take and every decision we make. As God speaks through His Word, we find direction for our lives. We discover our mission as Christians, and through His instruction we chart our course according to His will.
2. He uses godly people to speak counsel into our lives. I am deeply indebted to those whom the Spirit has prompted to ask the right questions, offer insights and wisdom, lovingly correct me when necessary, and provide help in making tough decisions.
3. He changes our hearts to conform to His heart. His transforming work in us often creates awareness of pathways, opportunities, and answers to decisions we would have never known before. As we increasingly seek to honor the Lord in every aspect of our lives, rather than seek our selfish ambitions, the next right step often appears clearly.
4. He closes doors and opens doors. The Lord sovereignly and supernaturally orchestrates circumstances and situations and conditions and events and times and issues and people in our lives to open up or close off options in the decisions we must make.
5. He gives us peace about the situation. There is something divinely and satisfyingly unexplainable about the peace God gives us when we make the choice He intends for us. And a lack of peace often accompanies a decision we should not make.
Friend, let me encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer for every decision you face. Listen for His voice, watch for the ways He’s working, and be ready to follow Him in faith as He guides you along the way. It beats throwing darts at the wall every time!