Lately I’ve been praying a lot about what to do with my life.
It’s likely that most of us have been at some sort of crossroad at one time or another. Which school do we go to, which job do we take, do we say yes or no to this or that opportunity – life is full of these choices and they can be very daunting when they arise. It’s often at this point that Christians double down on their prayer times and beg God to somehow make the way clear to them, show them a sign, or audibly direct them in the way they should go. And this is a good thing to do. Not only are we given examples of the apostles asking for and receiving God’s guidance, but our instinct to turn to God in times of confusion indicates a recognition of both our limited knowledge and God’s far superior wisdom. So yes, in every decision, let us pray that God will give us His wisdom, that He will guide us in the way that will best line up with all known and unknown circumstances both present and future, and that He will give us the courage to unflinchingly make the best choice without compromise while protecting us from the influence of unworthy motivations.
That being said, I’ve also been challenged by what I see as the pattern of guidance in the Old Testament. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon – all were just quietly, even unremarkably living their lives until God stepped in and gave them His directing. We don’t really see them coming to their knees, begging for guidance this way or that, instead they are just men and women living their lives day-to-day until God miraculously intervened to inform them of a specific direction He had for them to walk in.
But I wonder, before God met them to reveal the plan He had for them, do you think the direction these men were headed in was actually any different? In some cases, an abrupt change in character or lifestyle may suggest so, but I don’t actually think it was; in each of their lives, God was following them from the their first breath, leading and preparing them in the days of tedium or even unbelief in ways they didn’t realize for events they never could have imagined. Whether they were even initially God-fearers seems irrelevant; with each step of their lives, God was faithfully bringing them closer to the final place He had for them, steadfastly overseeing and refining through the superficially unremarkable days as well as the explicitly miraculous ones. His Sovereign thread wove purposefully through both.
When I look back on my life, it is often in these unremarkable days that I now most clearly see God at work. There have indeed been those major crossroads where I have sought guidance, but if I look back on the times my life took its most definitive turns, they were often happening in the midst of the mundane, slipping by without me even realizing it. For instance, I can remember one semester in university when I was a bit lazy and procrastinated signing up for classes. Because of this, I missed out on one of the literature classes I wanted to take and ended up having to take a course in an entirely new field to fulfill my degree’s requirements. My class selections weren’t something I was praying about or had even given a great deal of thought to, yet little did I know this simple event of being slotted into one class over another would directly lead to me moving me across the world for an entire new life, career, and community.
This is only one example of all the unsuspecting ways God has worked in my life, but there are many, many more (perhaps an occasion for another post sometime). From all this experience looking back, I now know that whether or not I feel I explicitly receive His directing in one way or another in what I (in my earthly perception) would consider the critical crossroads, God has been present and active in all the decisive divergences leading up to that point, and whether I’ve realized it or not His guidance has been leading me to (and in) that very moment.
Big life decisions, I now remind myself, are nothing to stress over. Rather, they are something to turn us to reflection and praise. For while our crossroads alert us to just how many directions our lives could potentially lead, they also remind us of how faithful God has been in all of unnoticed, daily crossroads that make up entire lives. Throughout each and every one, even when we disobey, He always leads us back to Himself, shepherding us on the path along quiet waters, the path that walks alongside Him.