Major life transitions seem to bring a time of endless, important, and difficult decision making. I am currently in one of those times as my husband and I are soon to become “empty-nesters”. Honestly, I can easily feel overwhelmed with all the decisions that I have to make every day. This time reminds me of another major life transition I made thirty-four years ago when I graduated from college and was deciding on my career path. I was bringing this decision to God and asking for His will for my next steps. Contemplating four possible options, I decided to attend a seminar that helped college students know how to discern the will of God. We were instructed to write down the options and interests that had already been presented to us. Then make a list of all the “pros” and “cons” on our list. As we did this, we were told to be in prayer as we sorted these possibilities.
After completing my list, the pros for teaching seemed to outweigh the other three alternatives. I must admit that I did not have a clear peace about this decision so I asked God to confirm to me if this was indeed His will. At that moment, an interesting word popped into my head: “MOTIVES.” It was so distinct and not seemingly from my own train of thinking that I looked up the word motives in the concordance of my Bible. This led me to the following verse:
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” James 4:3
I went back to my list and when I continued to pray through it in light of this verse, I realized that what I marked as a “pro” or “con” was based on seeking a life where I could securely provide for my finances! My “cons” for full-time Christian work were that I had to depend on others’ support and could not be self-supportive. Quickly the Lord showed me that I was deceiving myself: all our provisions come from Him; whether by a paycheck from a school or support donated from others. Also, God was helping me to see that my motive to be self-sufficient was actually a “con” and was denying me the opportunity to grow in faith and learn to be more God dependent!
Immediately, I knew the Lord was calling me into full-time Christian work. As soon as I declared this in prayer, a wonderful peace came over me and I knew His will for this next stage of life. As you pray for wisdom in the decisions you need to currently make, be sure that your motives are to be in the center of His will and not to fill your own pleasures and longings.