I was having a conversation with a girlfriend the other day and we were discussing a decision I’m having a tough time making. I’ve been accepted to Seminary, but I’m not sure whether to go. I know it would be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It would also be one of the most taxing in many ways.
I’m a single mom with two kids in elementary school and I’m poor as a church mouse. Seminary would mean considerable financial debt and time deficit. It would mean a serious readjustment of the way I manage my life and call for much sacrifice. I’m also not sure whether I have the full support of my family and friends.
Seminary would also mean a kind of growth in spiritual knowledge and development that just isn’t possible should I continue to learn on my own. It would mean immersing myself in the word of God and fortifying myself with knowledge I would be able to use to spread the good news to others (and the gospel of Jesus Christ is really really good news). I would get to be a part of a cohort which likely would turn into lifelong friends and a support system for me in what I’m trying to do.
When finished I’d be qualified to apply for ministerial jobs, which is what I want to be doing. I’m not a very ‘conventional’ Christian, though, and I’m an unmarried woman so I don’t know how hire-able I’d be. Even if I did get hired, jobs in ministry aren’t known for their high rate of pay and I’d likely be making payments on the school debt for many many years.
It’s not an easy decision. I’ve been praying and asking the Lord for confirmation one way or another. So far I haven’t gotten any answer brighter than the shadow of doubt.
I was relaying this to my girlfriend and she suggested that I’d already been given all the information I need and the thing to do is to ‘take a leap of faith’. She said to ‘take the leap’ and if I leap in the wrong direction I’ll know because it will be difficult and doors will close and that will be my answer.
I listened to my girlfriends words, but couldn’t settle with them completely. While it seems there are only two ways to leap in my present dilemma, either go to school or don’t, I believe the real ‘leap of faith’ is to wait on the Lord. God is very real and He is involved in our lives if we ask Him to be. In this case, I have asked Him for confirmation and I believe He will answer me.
In Judges, when Gideon is approached by the angel of the Lord, he isn’t sure it’s really true, so he speaks to the angel. “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” I can relate to Gideon. Though it feels like the desire to go to Seminary was originally put on my heart by God, is it really God or is it my own imagination?
In Gideon’s case, the angel stayed and then “touched the meat and the unleavened bread [Gideon brought] with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared.” Gideon realized he was actually dealing with God and not his own imagination and “…Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace.”
Later in the story, Gideon again wants confirmation as he is told Israel is to be delivered by his hand, but this means going to war against their oppressors – a very scary prospect. Gideon has a hard time believing this is really what God means. It’s a big move and Gideon needs God’s assurance that the Lord is with him.
First he asks God to put dew only on a wool fleece he has placed on the threshing floor. The next morning he wrings a bowl of water out of the fleece, but the threshing floor is dry. ‘Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so.’
I read the story of Gideon and there’s a comfort there for me. It makes me realize I’m not the first or only person to question whether a big life decision is coming from me or from God. It’s a question that matters a lot if you’re someone who is pursuing a faith based life.
Through Gideon I can be assured that it’s OK to ask God for confirmation and be assured that God isn’t going to hold it against me if I have a little doubt. Gideon needed God to double down on His answer so he could move ahead with the confidence required to carry out God’s plan. God answered. God confirmed. God was, and is, there.
There is a ‘leap of faith’ required of me. It’s found in me trusting God to be there in the same real and interactive way. It’s found in believing that God wants to be involved in my life and that He welcomes the opportunity to be in relationship with me. I must take the ‘leap of faith’ that I can trust God to answer me and not leave me hanging – even if waiting feels counter intuitive to the ways of the world.
For now, I’m filling out scholarship applications and paperwork and paving the way in case God’s answer is to go to school. I’m also not getting my hopes up too high or investing too much into any particular future plan. Though it feels uncomfortable, I’m waiting on the Lord. I guess I’ve come to a place in life where I realize I can’t really do it without Him.
Gideon told us ‘The Lord Is Peace’ with his altar. I trust that God’s answer will be the right one for me. Perhaps by waiting on the Lord, I can avoid the waste and pain of the trial by error approach. I look forward to hearing His answer.