Evaluations, Decision-Making, and Answered Prayer

My son starts kindergarten in a few weeks. {Insert big gulp here.} I can’t believe I’m old enough to have a kindergartner. The passage of time seriously freaks me out. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was braiding my friend’s hair on the bus as we rode to a cross-country meet? Now, suddenly, I’ve been married 12 years and have two kids, one of whom is about to be in elementary school. This is full-fledged adulthood people.

As we embark on this big transition, there have been several steps to get him, and us, ready for his first day of school.

He had a kindergarten camp where he spent a week of mornings at his new school. He created art projects and made friends and got used to hearing Spanish from his teacher. (He will be going to a Spanish immersion school.)

He had a school bus safety event, where we around a few blocks in a school bus. He heard the bus driver talk about choosing where to sit and keeping voices low and getting off at his stop and telling the driver if he had a tummy ache.

He had an early childhood screening, where I took him to a community center. I answered questions about how he learns and someone checked his height and a teacher asked him questions about what word rhymes with cat.

After each of these preparations, I was told something important: my son is ready for kindergarten.

It’s comforting to hear. To know that other people think my son is ready affirms our decision to send him. To know more about what is coming strengthens his confidence to go.

Don’t you wish more of life was like this?

What if, before we took a new job, we had this kind of preparation? A week-long camp where we did the job at 1/3 time and got an introduction to what it would be like. A driver who took us around and talked about what to expect at each corner. An evaluation that gave us a non-biased opinion on whether our brains and bodies were ready for the new things we would learn and experience.

It would make decision-making a whole lot easier.

Our longing for the kind of confirmation and guidance we got as children sometimes paralyzes us as adults.

When we face big decisions, it’s often how we pray. We ask God to show us the way to go. To prove to us that the next step we are going to take is the right one. To confirm that we aren’t going to screw things up by trying this new thing. To let us know whether our we are ready for what will come our way.

And then we sit. Stuck. Halted until God tells us exactly what to do.

The problem is, God is usually not that specific. God doesn’t treat us like kindergartners, He treats us like adults.

Because really, what would our lives look like if answered prayers for guidance looked like kindergarten evaluations? Wouldn’t we slowly loose our abilities to make decisions, even over simple things? Wouldn’t we begin to question whether God was stifling us by not showing us multiple options? Wouldn’t we begin to think of God more as an Administrator than a Creator or a Lover?

God loves us too much to take the adventure out of the life He created for us.

I think of the adventure God gave the Israelites as He led them out of Egypt and into the desert. He didn’t evaluate their readiness or show them how everything would work out. He didn’t even give them a map.

God gave the Israelites a pillar. By day, a cloud that shielded them from the harsh heat of the desert sun. By night, a fire that protected them from the cold and frightening darkness. Day and night, a beacon that showed them God’s direction. A comfort that showed them God’s presence.

When we pray for God to guide our life decisions, I think this picture is in line with how He often answers. He doesn’t tell us each step, but He leads us in a direction. He doesn’t protect us from everything, but He shields us from some of the harshest realities. And in the midst of the decision and wherever life takes us afterwards, God shows us His presence.

God is our pillar.

How have you seen God answer prayers for guidance in your life?