“Remember, we have a test next Friday.”
At least half a dozen hands shoot up and inevitably one of them will ask, “Is it going to be multiple choice?”
As a teacher, I roll my eyes, but as a student, many of us take that sigh of relief when the teacher answers yes. Whew! We have some chance of passing this test.
In school if the tests were fill-in-the-blank or essay (okay, essay tests were personally my favorite, but we will keep my nerdiness out of the conversation for now), most of us began defeated. We knew the test would push our academic limits.
But multiple choice tests gave us hope. They were like a security blanket. The correct answer is on the page, I just have to find it.
So right about now, you may be wondering where this conversation is going. How does this relate to me? I have no plans of going back to school, nor do I care about assessment strategies.
Well, recently God revealed to me that I was praying to him, much the same way we like to take tests – in multiple choice.
For about a year now, I have prayed consistently to do God’s will in my life. With my writing, blogging, teaching, all of it, I just didn’t know where to focus. I didn’t know where God wanted me to put my energy.
Many times, I prayed, God, show me what you want me to do. Where do you want me to focus? And each time after my prayer, I waited. I waited for the revelation. The heavens to open up, the light to shine down, and the answer to fall in my lap.
Okay, so I knew it wouldn’t be that easy, but honestly, when we are searching for God’s will, truly searching, more times than not, He makes it obvious.
Only this time, He didn’t.
And I just kept trudging along. Doing a little with this, a little with that, waiting for one thing or the other to spark and show me the way. But do you know what?
I am still waiting…
Not without hope though… because God showed me something. He showed me I didn’t have the answer, because I was praying in the wrong format.
Each time I asked God to show me His will, it went something like this:
God, I want to serve you. I want to carry out your will in my life more than anything. Please show me what it is. Is your will in my life…
A. To put all my energy in writing for the blog (I mean I can do that, but I kinda feel stagnant.)
B. To work on starting a women’s bible study outside of the church (I know that is on my heart, but I just don’t know where to start)
C. To focus on writing my novel (That is really what I want to do, but it feels like a silly childhood dream)
D. To go back to school and get my Masters (but like in what???)
E. All of the above (please not this one, I just don’t know if I have it in me.)
Thanks God, just let me know which one you want me to do, Amen.
And then the crickets… silence on the other end.
But while in Puerto Rico during a prayer service, God finally answered.
Only He said, “Stop giving me the choices. Stop listing the possibilities for me. You leave it blank and let me fill it in.”
YEEK! Have I really been doing that? Maybe not intentionally, but yes. Each time I prayed for direction, I listed the choices for God. I told Him the possibilities because even if some of those options pushed me outside of my comfort zone, I knew I could handle them. I knew those fit in the little box of my life.
But that’s not God. He is not going to just let me settle for doing things I know I can handle or things that fit into my vision of my life. He doesn’t want to just push me, He wants to push me to Him. He wants me to look at that blank test and let Him fill in all the answers.
That is hard.
And if I am being honest, I think I am still sitting here answerless, because I haven’t fully surrendered. I am still holding out for one of the multiple choice answers because they are clear and simple. The fill-in-the-blank answers always require more thought and precision. There are so many possibilities in that one blank.
And if my honesty continues, I don’t know if this control freak knows how to really surrender. Like let go. No hands on the handle bars, total release of my life to God. It seems so complicated in the midst of a career and raising a family. I am not sure how to give God endless options in the midst of my responsibilities.
But I know that is what He is waiting on. He is waiting on surrender. He is waiting on me to be bold enough to give him that fill-in-the-blank test. He is waiting to show me what He really knows, and thankfully, that is way more than me.
So when you pray, think about it. What format is it in? Fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice? Do you give God a blank line to fill in or do you give Him your pre-approved choices? Think of all the ways we are limiting God when we give Him the choices. Imagine all that could happen when we let Him fill in the details…
But we have to surrender first.