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Archive for the ‘The Will of God’ Category

NOTE: This is part one from the series “Discerning God’s Will: My Struggle with College”. It has been re-posted here because it had been deleted.

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“No, you need to live on campus. If not, how will you get the college experience?”

“I wanted all my children to live on campus so that they could learn independence. It’s the best practice for marriage!”

“Yeah… if you go to college close to home, I’ve heard you need to cut yourself off from your friends and family here to get the true college experience.”

I am now going to tell you the story of my struggle with college. I am not telling this story to convince you to go to college or not to. Rather, I want to share with you how God guided me through this decision. It is applicable to all the decisions that we make. As I look back and see God’s hand in this area of my life, I am reminded again of His goodness.

I had always thought that I would go to college. That’s what you are supposed to do. Time and time again from the media, from friends, and even from some family members I was reminded that I cannot amount to much if I do not go to college. Besides, I was fine with this decision; I could no more change it than I could change my parents. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

My first three years of high-school flew by! During this time, I decided on a college to go to. It was a truly excellent Christian college that was near my home. However, I was not quite sure that it would be good to go to college close to home. I mean, isn’t college all about branching out, about new experiences, about becoming an adult? And from all corners of my life, I received a resounding “Yes!”
Except, my parents said that I could not live on campus unless I paid for it. In addition, part of me knew that I would rather live at home.
To my shame, instead of completely listening to my parents, he pressure convinced me that living on campus was the only way to go.

I went to my Christian friends to talk this over. Only one or two listened without giving me much of an opinion. They would listen and nod at the “pros” and the “cons”. I appreciated this, and it gave me a place to work out my own questions about the whole thing. On the other hand, the vast majority gave me comments similar to the ones at the beginning of this post. Even adults who I respect and who have taught me so much about the Christian faith stated decidedly that I should live on campus.

If you are laughing as you read this, I understand. “To live on campus, or not to live on campus… that is the question.” Sounds rather silly! To me, though, it was a huge decision, and God revealed Himself to me throughout, turning my thoughts and mind to Himself. I only wish that I had gone to Him sincerely first, not other people. But we do serve a faithful God.

I eventually decided that it would all work out. My parents would come around; maybe they would see that I need to live on campus or I will be one of those people who never leave home. Lurking in the back of my mind was the idea that maybe my parents were right. Still, I tend to be a little too attached to the home anyway; I would have to learn to stretch my wings and be a normal person. I was doubtful, but people assured me that living on campus was the only way to go. I listened. I began to pray that God’s will would be done, and I hoped that my parents would come around.

What I did not realize at the time was that all along, I wanted my parents to be right; I wanted to follow them! But I couldn’t because then I would never learn to fly…

To be continued

Part II/Part III/Part IV/Conclusion

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Here’s the application for my struggle with college. First, though, I want you to understand that my struggle is not over. Outside of my immediate family, very few people agree that I should not live on campus. In fact, this will probably pose more problems as it gets closer to the beginning of the college semester. However, I continually pray that God will guide me, give me peace, and give me strength to hold to the decision that He led me to. And He is so faithful!

Here are the things I have learned about God’s guidance:

1. It will not contradict Scripture; God does not contradict Himself! Faithfully read His Word, pay attention to sermons, and apply all these things.

2. You MUST take it to Him first. Pray about it. I highly recommend writing it in a journal to the Lord. That is one way He showed me His will for this decision regarding college. My thoughts became clear as I wrote it out; the truth blaringly came through my journal entry. And remind yourself of His faithfulness and His perfect plan that works to your good and His glory.

3. Listen to other people who you respect, but listen to God first. He alone is fully trustworthy and knows all things. I think it may be helpful to talk about things with godly friends; ask if they will pray for you and encourage you with Scripture. But remember, we are all fallible, as humans!

4. Pay attention to your parents’ wishes. Obey them! Listen to those God has placed in authority over you.

Here is what Elisabeth Elliot says on this topic in her book, Keep a Quiet Heart.

Three questions to ask yourself:
1. Have I made up my mind to do what He says, despite the cost?
2. Am I faithfully reading His Word and praying?
3. Am I obedient in what I know today of His will?

These are all three so important. First, we must be willing to do whatever He asks of us, no matter what! It will not work if you do not give God your all- everything. Second, you must read His Word and spend time with Him on a daily basis. Third, no matter what decision you are making, be sure that you are obedient in what you know of His will right now. If He has given you a job, be thorough in your duties. In school, diligently do your best. Know that the future is in the hands of your loving Heavenly Father. Do not be afraid!

“Let me hear in the morning of your
steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
For to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation;
For you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

Be patient; wait upon the Lord to make His will and plans clear to you. Trust in His goodness and unfailing love.

Part I/Part II/Part III/Part IV

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Almost everyone encouraged me to go to college. This helped with the decision. To have godly men and women give me their stories and advice was a huge help.

There was a problem running underneath the whole time. It was the question of whether or not to live on campus in the dorms. The college I will be attending is only a couple of minutes from my home. However, almost all my friends’ parents (and that is not exaggeration!) have forced them to live on campus. Since I wanted to live on campus at first, everything worked out just fine.

My parents, however, did not want me to live on campus; it costs thousands of dollars per school-year. However, they told me that if I could pay for it, I could live on campus.

Everyone told me to live on campus, except my parents. People who work for the college told me to, people in our church told me to, my friends told me to, and my friends’ parents told me to. They all expounded on the benefits of learning to be independent. They talked about the fun I would have. However, ultimately, they told me that I needed it. I needed to learn independence so that I would not be stuck at home forever.

I became very confused; I decided that I must live on campus. I had to. If not, I would never become a mature adult. Many told me that living in a dorm with a roommate is the best preparation for marriage (I heartily disagree, but at the time, I bought it). My friends convinced me that I should get away from home through their own desires to leave home. Many of my friends are intentionally not going to this college because “it is too close to home”. Sadly, I believed all of them. I was convinced that they were right. I only knew two people who did not live on campus; one was a girl who never got along with her roommates and did not like to live at home, and the other was my friend’s brother who lived at home for practical reasons (studying, money, and family).

I was so “brain-washed”! I worried a lot. Finally, I decided to pray. I prayed that if God wanted me to live on campus (and, oh, how I hoped He did), that He would provide a way. I prayed that if I was not to live on campus, He would give me peace about living at home.

Not only did I receive peace; I received joy. I saw how much better it was for me, as a daughter, to live at home, to love and serve my family. God placed me in my family first; they are my first priority. I realized that I had did not want to get away from home. I am a daughter; I need protection (yes, no feminism here!). I do not think that God intended for daughters to be shoved out into the world and placed in an “independent” environment. In addition, the best preparation for marriage is at home. Finally, if my parents are paying for college, I should put my very best into it, and I do not think I can do that as well if I am living on campus with a bunch of other talkative girls. ☺

God began to help me appreciate little things about living at home- truly investing in my siblings’ lives, helping my parents, a quiet place to study and sleep, solitary showers (yes, that was a top priority! ☺ ). Basically, the Lord showed my the selfishness and errors in my thinking.

So, my closing advice today is: do not follow or trust the opinions of other Christians without seeking God. It is so easy for us to hear the opinions of those we respect and think that those ideas are good and right. They may be; and we must take other ideas into consideration. But lean more fully upon your parents’ decisions and mostly, upon God’s will. Look to Him; He guides our steps.

Lastly, if you are considering college and reading all the “enticing” brochures and information, please do not be drawn into thinking that you have to go. You don’t. Please do not think that the “college experience” is of utmost importance. That was the trap I fell into. I thought that if I did not live on campus, I would miss out on the college experience. It may not be beneficial to you! Please do not let any decision be one made without the Lord.

Tomorrow, this series will be concluded. I know that it has been a lot to read and confusing. However, I hope that it will encourage you to seek the Lord. Know that He will guide you! In tomorrow’s writing, I will briefly sum this all up and show some specifics that I have learned about God’s will (not college!). And not all topics on Created to Be a Help will be this long!

Part I/Part II/Part III/Conclusion

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College has always been fascinating to me. There’s something about the independence and tiny, homey dorm rooms that has always appealed to me.
I was prime bait for any college that emphasized community and academic achievement!

At the same time, even before learning the “shocking fact” that no one had to go to college, I was wondering if college was God’s plan for my life. Part of me hoped that it was; part of me hoped that it was not.

Ultimately, the problem was that I had let college become something that I just did- no asking God for His direction, no thinking about not going, simply thinking that college was a fact, not a decision. We must never fall into this type cultural trap- the trap that turns something into almost-a-necessity.

Summer came. That is when I read the book that convinced me that college was not favorable for girls. Then, through a sermon, God showed me that we cannot go on our convictions and decisions alone. We must consult His Word. If our calling does not go along with His Word, we must re-examine the calling and make sure it is from God.

Reading His Word, I found verses such as these:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” Ephesians 6:1-3

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20

God is intentional in all that He does and this includes our births. He put you in the home you are in for a reason. God expects us to glorify Him in whatever home we are in (or wherever He places us). So I realized that if I was not honoring my parents, I had to re-consider my calling. As long as my parents are not going against His Word, I must listen to their counsel.

See, there are no stipulations attached to this command. We must always listen to the counsel of parents respectfully. In addition, while we are under their authority, we must obey their commands, unless that would mean dishonoring or disobeying God. Since going to college did not mean disobeying or dishonoring God, I had to respect the wishes of my parents.

My decision was clear now: I was going to attend college. This was not a heart-wrenching decision. I was so thankful to finally have peace.

If this whole struggle seems confusing by now, I understand. While I avoided asking God’s direction with the purpose to obey, my sinful, fickle heart led me astray (back and forth between decisions). I had to surrender my heart and life to my loving Heavenly Father. He is so gentle in pulling us to Himself. He longs to help us with our burdens and decisions (Matthew 11:25-30), because ultimately, it’s about His glory! If it is about Him and not me, then every decision and every aspect of my life should be up to Him.

Going to college was settled, and I began to research the college and application process. Then, another question arose…

Part I/Part II/Part IV/Conclusion

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Part II
As the summer before my senior year of high-school came to a close, I began thinking more about all the “college stuff”. I received stacks of mail; chunky envelops that included applications, vivid brochures with testimonies of former students, letters written on thick, cream-colored paper with embossed logos at the top.Most of the letters began, “What you will do with the rest of your life is a HUGE decision. We want to make it easier. Let me tell you about FILL-IN-THE-BLANK University…” It sounded so fake. I felt as though they were selling me some product, some product that was life if I had it and death if I did not. At this point, I began to feel reasonably sure that I would go to the college that I had always planned on going to- the one close to home. It was the simplest thing to do; plus, the academics and doctrine are sound.

However, the Lord began placing books and articles in front of me that talked about girls not going to college. At first, I was skeptical. As time went on, I began to see that these books had a point. I have always wanted to be a mother and wife. I realized now that I definitely did not need college to do that.

There seems to be this terrible, recurring theme in my life. I tend to set myself firm in one decision/opinion. Then, I finally decide that I have been wrong. At that point, I decide that the previous decision was absolutely terrible and the whole idea is pagan. Then I support my other idea whole-heartedly. I tend to be very passionate and emotional about things. I approach things cautiously until I am sure, then I throw myself in. This is usually not a good thing! By God’s grace, I have been discovering my pride and my fickleness more and more. With His help, I have been working on these things. I definitely still struggle, but I am becoming more aware of the dangers of these sins (and all sin, really).

So, after reading all this about not attending college, I went to the other end of the spectrum. I emphatically told myself that I was not going to go. Telling my parents was an entirely different story.

To be continued

Part I/Part III/Part IV/Conclusion

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