I was out for an early Sunday morning bike ride on the bike path that circles much of the south side of the Ohio University campus. It was pretty quiet at 7:15 am when I came upon someone walking with slooped shoulders. It was a female and her body language did not seem very upbeat. I slowed down and said, “Good morning. What brings you out so early on a Sunday?”
“Ah, nothing,” she replied. “I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and I got tired of tossing and turning in bed.” “Anything you want to talk about?” I inquired. She paused for a minute as I walked my bike next to her. “Okay, I guess, but it’s going to seem so silly to you.” I replied, “What’s your name?” “Melissa,” she answered as we sat down on the bike path.
“Are you a student at OU (Ohio University)?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “studying education, but I really want to be an airline attendant. If I told my mom, she would blow up and start yelling that I’m wasting her and my dad’s money. I don’t want to hurt my parents, but I’m starting to get some idea of what to do with my life…but it’s not what they want for me.”
I have had hundreds of conversations with college students in three-plus decades of university ministry about big decisions. I guess many of them figured that since I was a few years older, I would know what they might do, or at least how to approach the process.
I’ve also had hundreds of conversations about the ways we try to discover the will of God. We ask, “Where should I go to school?” “What should I study?” “What should I do with my life?” I realize many of us wish we could know for sure exactly what God wants us to do every time we ask, but God is not a cosmic fortune teller that we keep on retainer. We wish (and even pray) that He would write His plans for us in the sky and how to accomplish them. But He doesn’t.
Scripture says it is not hard to determine His will. There are the clear moral teachings of the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the New Testament. I don’t need to pray if it is God’s will to rob a bank to pay for next semester’s classes, books, and meal plan.
Scripture says God is interested in our character as much or more than our career path. Are you walking and talking with God? Are you keeping your heart and motives clean toward God and others? Are you reading, meditating on, and living according to Scripture? Are you loving and forgiving toward your neighbors? If so, then you can find wisdom to make good decisions.
After listening to Melissa’s story and the anguish she was in, I asked if I could share something that has helped me make decisions. “Okay,” she replied. I said it was some wisdom from the Bible and I quoted Proverbs 3:5-6. Melissa started crying, and I was wondering if what I said was wrong. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “You didn’t say anything wrong, Mike. When I was leaving home for college, my grandmother asked me about my relationship with God. She knew I was drifting away and was concerned. She told me she was praying for me and then gave me a present for graduation from high school. And I never take it off my wrist.”
Melissa then pulled up the end of her sweatshirt to reveal a bracelet with Proverbs 3:5-6 etched on it. She jumped to her feet, saying, “I’ve got to call my grandmother and tell her I am getting back to God and I know what I need to say to my folks. Thanks, Mike.” And she ran off. I never saw Melissa again. Walk wisely. God knows how to use our initiative in blessing others.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz