What’s Next?

This is it. This is the class of 2015’s last year at high school. It is our last year with all the people we have grown up with, and now we each have to prepare for what comes next as we go our separate ways. This decision is our own; no one can make it for us. For me, as well as many others I know, the idea of what next? scares me because I do not know what the right decision is. Making decisions about the future is stressful, but if each of us does it in a godly way, we can be sure that we will not make the wrong decision.

Never before have I, as a student, been given such a huge decision to make on my own. I am a senior, and that means I am nearly an adult. It is time for me to decide what is next in my future. I speak on behalf of many seniors: the task of figuring out life plans is daunting. It is true that I do not need to know all the details, but going into college unsure about my major scares me. I want to know right now and be sure, because not knowing is difficult.

As a young woman in the church, extra uncertainties factor into this problem. I have spoken to many female friends about this dilemma. I hope, Lord willing, that I get married some day and have a family. I do not plan on working after I have children, so is it prudent of me to spend time, money, and energy on a college education? I personally am convinced that education is never a waste; knowledge leads to a deeper understanding of the creator and sustainer of this universe. Nevertheless, debt is often a side-effect of a college education, and undoubtedly great amounts of time and energy go into further education. These just add other doubts into my mind concerning the question, am I making the right decision?

Parents, ministers, and teachers have taught me that making decisions is a matter of following God’s will for my life. I know, then, that to make college decisions, I have to determine what God’s plan for my life is. This is more easily said than done. No dew will appear on fleece for any of us seniors, and the clouds will not spell out Hope College or GVSU, because this is not the way by which God reveals his will.

We may not make our decisions by following signs like these, but a very threatening method is one that the world stresses: following the heart. This method for decision-making is extremely popular in the world in which we live, and while gut instincts may have some credibility, following the heart is relying on emotion. Emotions are a blessing from God, but they, as part of all our sinful natures, are often temporary, overwhelming, and misleading. Emotions lead people to make rash judgments and do things they have not yet thought through. They are volatile, and while they may help us decide what we want, they do not show us what God wants.

The weightiest reason not to follow the heart, however, is found in Proverbs 28:26, which reads, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” I, along with my class, have to make a decision about what is next; if I follow my heart, I am a fool. To be called a fool by the Bible’s definition is frightening. Fools despise wisdom (Prov. 1:7), they say there is no God (Ps. 53:1), and they mock at sin (Prov. 14:9). Fools in scripture are more than clumsy laughingstocks; they are wicked.

We cannot trust our hearts to make decisions, but we must use wisdom. Graciously God promises wisdom to anyone who asks for it: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given” (James 1:5). When we knock, we will be answered, and when we seek wisdom, we will find it (Matt. 7:7). We find this wisdom through prayer; at this uncertain time in life, it is crucial that we continue in prayer, searching after wisdom to know God’s will. Solomon speaks to his son in Proverbs 2 about searching after knowledge. “Incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:2–6). We cannot gain wisdom passively; as God’s children, we grow in knowledge of him, of his ways, and of his desires. Paul tells Timothy that God’s word is the source of wisdom (2 Tim. 3:15). To gain the wisdom necessary to make a God-centered decision, we have to ask God for the wisdom and search it out in the Bible.

In his word, God gives commands as to how he desires his people to glorify him in every stage of their lives. When I look in the Scriptures for those commands, I find my calling: love God and love the neighbor. Paul also speaks fondly of the way in which unmarried women can serve the Lord without distraction (1 Cor. 7:35). This includes serving the body of Christ and being involved in the activities and life of the church. This is a necessary response to salvation. Because this is my calling, I know without any doubt that whatever I do after high school must be in accordance with that. God’s plan for me will never contradict his calling for me as his child. If what I want goes against my calling, it is a good indication to myself that this is not God’s plan.

After we know what God requires of us as his children, we can each examine ourselves. We should acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, what we do and do not enjoy doing, and advice others give us. The circumstances in our lives at the time of an important decision can assist in showing us the right choice to make; while these are not the Urim and Thummim-type signs of the Old Testament, they guide us in the way that is right at the time.

Knowing all this, the next obstacle to overcome is trust. This is something that I know I will struggle with as I make more concrete decisions. God has promised me that he will lead me and will guide me in the right path; “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Ps. 48:14). Even if the path that God leads me down does not seem to have been the correct one from an earthly point of view, I know that I need to have faith that what God is doing is best for me. As a faithful Father, he will only do what is best for his people. He has never turned back on his promises, so I truly do not have to worry. The writer of Hebrews states this boldly: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (For he is faithful that promised;)” (Heb. 10:23). When each one of us seniors decides on a path, faith is what will assure us that we have made the right decision. If we have searched God’s word, if we are following his commands, and if we continually pray for him to make the path known to us, then we have done all that we possibly can; the only thing left is trust.

I am a senior in high school struggling with figuring out what I want to do after graduation. The uncertainty causes great amounts of stress for me. I want to know what I will be doing in the future. I want to know so that I can be more in control of my life; it is difficult for me to not be sure. However, I am at a point in this journey that I know the only thing left to do is see where God leads me. I have chosen to not stress about it anymore because I am completely sure that I am going to be okay because of God’s providential and ruling hand. What a weight it is off my shoulders actively to realize that God is taking care of me and leading the path for my life! He promises to “guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). This peace comes when I no longer worry about being in control, but give it up to God to take care of in his most perfect and loving way. “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in the paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isa. 42:16).