“What do you want to do when you grow up?” can be an entertaining enough question to ask a young child if we are looking for an answer that can’t be taken too seriously and a lighthearted conversation starter. For example, our daughter might tell you “a fish” on any given day because “they can swim underwater and I want to swim underwater and see it there”. Too quickly though, it seems those questions turn into the far more burdensome “What are you doing when you graduate?”, “Which job pays more?”, “How many kids do you want”, “When are you going to get married?”, “Where do you want to live?”, “What do you want to __________”. . .and the list goes on.
We often particularly burden our youth with questions like these it seems at a time when they are trying to make sense of life and the overwhelming array of choices and decisions sweeping over them in a world that interprets life as far more human-driven than God-driven. Even in the church. Even in our families. We have all answered (and to be honest, likely asked) our fair share of questions similar to the above, and in many cases, these questions are asked by Christian friends, church members, and spiritual leaders around us. So, we answer, right? Even if they should know better than to ask those questions in those ways, we have to answer with something more than “I dunno” or our families frown, we feel stupid, or we know they are just going to ask again next week so we might as well spit out something now. Sometimes the answers might roll off the tongue quite easily. Sometimes, the answers might be more guarded and careful, hiding some personal or relational turmoil and confusion. And, sometimes. . .very occasionally it seems. . .the answers might actually be honest, beneficial, and edifying to the Christian body in that they come from scriptural ideas and are remotely indicative of an understanding of what it means to live as a follower of Christ versus just doing what we want. Something, like. . .
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV)
Seriously. It doesn’t really matter what we major in (32%+ of graduates will never even use what they major in anyway), what worldly skills or academic honors we have, how many kids or goats we want, which school/job offers more money, when we think we’ll be ready to get married, what “he” did, what our family says, or what our friends say. It does matter tremendously what God says. Our temporary earthly life gives us so many twists and turns that we need to rely on God for the steps because no path is what we thought it was going to be when we planned for it. If we planned for it. Not now. Not ever. Sometimes the paths we thought were God’s plan turn out to be nonexistent or wrong. Sometimes the paths we wished for or planned for are not God’s plan at all. Remember Abraham? Jonah? David? Joseph?( It doesn’t even matter which Joseph this time, does it?) The point is . . .God alone knows, and He is not self-seeking and narcissistic like….umm…..all of us a lot of times more than we care to admit it?! He alone is our sovereign Creator and there is absolutely no one else we can trust to know best for us. If we spent even a fraction of the time we spend on things like completing personality tests, FAFSAs, career surveys (last one Jennifer took told her she should be a rabbi or farmer so obviously that was useful), figuring out our love languages, and listening to the always-bountiful opinions of others . . .and instead, invested it in seeking to know God better, love and obey Him . .surely this would be a good thing for us, the entire church body, and our world.
Recently we were ran across Psalm 37. It is a fabulous psalm full of good stuff . . .particularly if you want to be reminded of the fact that you do NOT KNOW and that is not only okay, it is what God desires. Because, He knows. He knows it all . . .so much more than we can understand in this life. And He reminds us of this all throughout His word time and time again. Here are just a few:
“Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him, and HE shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5, NKJV)
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23, NKJV)
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV)
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:23-25, NIV)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8, NIV)
We’ve tried to be intentional in teaching our daughter to understand that life decisions aren’t about what we want, what others want for us, or what others do. And so somewhere along the line, we used the phrase “God willing” and explained the concept of James 4 to her. Interestingly, she catches us all the time in our shortcomings in this area. Just the other day, Brian told her goodbye and said, “I’ll see you after work” to which his daughter cheerfully responded, “God willing. Because, you might die today and not come home. Or there might be an emergency like a tornado or our house might burn or Mommy might go to the hospital. . .” God willing, kid. You are right. You are more right than us sometimes. And God is more right than us all the time. Regardless of if we like it.
If you want some great advice straight from the mouth of none other than the man after God’s own heart, we think you’ll enjoy Psalm 37. God willing.
–Brian and Jennifer Hall