When God doesn’t speak, where do we go?
Move to a new city or stay close to home? Try a new career path or stick with what you know? Buy the house at the end of the block or continue renting?
Major decisions. That’s life. Part of the challenge comes from knowing each choice could result in a different future. And to a young adult, that’s terrifying. Trying to figure out what God wants for your life can appear to be impossible. Sometimes the “right decision” seems elusive.
Caterpillars and Butterflies
The first major decision I grappled with as a young adult was where to go to college. I had debated for months. I weighed the pros and the cons. I consulted family members and friends. And still, I had no idea which path I was supposed to take, which door I was supposed to open and walk through. I knew that even when I finally made a decision, I could never be confident in it unless I felt guided by God. I knew that I would always question if I made the right choice unless it wasn’t really me making the choice.
One Thursday night as I lay in bed, I gave it to God. I was hesitant, but I prayed, “God, if you want me to go to Union College, show me butterflies. If you want me to go to UW-Madison, show me caterpillars.”
When I woke up the next morning, I had forgotten all about my conversation with God. As the night grew closer and life’s craziness began to slow down, I turned on the television to a movie I’d never heard of that happened to be just starting. It was a mystery surrounding a baby shower. And the theme of the baby shower? Monarch butterflies, of course.
Sometimes, God works miraculously. Sometimes, His will is clear. But other times, it’s not.
God, Choose My Door
The second time I faced a crossroads was less than a year later as I struggled with deciding my major. I had considered nearly everything, but still felt completely lost. I had been praying about it for months, but I saw no sign from God. I found myself waiting and waiting for Him to show up and lead me down the path He wanted for me. I felt confused and discouraged. Where was my God? What was His plan for my future? How was I supposed to pick a path if I didn’t know which path He wanted me to take? I was ready to trust His will, but I couldn’t figure out what His will was.
God was absent, it seemed.
But one night at Vespers, the guest speaker’s message was all about challenging decisions.
“You keep getting all these doors in front of you, and you say ‘What in the world am I supposed to do with this, God?’” Pastor Steve Carlson, youth pastor in Ohio, said. “You can kind of make yourself crazy, saying, ‘Am I going to get this wrong? Am I going to mess this up?’”
This message was for me.
“God is not incapable of speaking,” Pastor Carlson continued. “But there are many times where you see God just kind of leaving it out there, saying, ‘You choose.’”
Pastor Carlson directed us to Acts 8 where Philip was traveling to Gaza according to God’s instruction, and suddenly he felt the spirit of God directing him down a different path. Philip had to make a choice, and God ended up using that choice to bless Philip with an opportunity to minister to an Ethiopian eunuch.
“No matter how many questions you have in life, no matter how much you’re struggling and feeling overwhelmed, right where you are, that’s where Jesus is meeting you,” Pastor Carlson said. “It’s not a matter of figuring out life first. It’s not a matter of clawing your way to Jesus, trying to prove you have your stuff together or choosing the right doors.”
God’s Favor is on All Your Opportunities
Pastor Carlson said that God doesn’t plan failure behind one door and success behind another. He said that God promises, “I’m gonna work with you no matter what.”
As the pastor spoke, I realized I had been making a huge mistake. I had all these doors in front of me, and I thought that eventually I would realize which door was the right one. I thought that God had a career picked for me, and yes, He knows what career I’m going to have someday, but my mistake was thinking that would be the only career He would bless me in. I realized I had confined God to being only behind a single door. And all along, He was waiting for me to just pick one in faith, so that He could lead me and bless me on that path.
“Sometimes it’s not about the door you go through, but how you go through the door,” Pastor Carlson concluded. “God says, ‘I want you to choose a door and I want you to go through it and I want you to go through it prayerfully.’”
In whatever decision you are facing, don’t limit the God of the universe. If you walk through the door with God, He will bless you no matter which door you choose. He’s waiting behind them all.