When it comes to the college search, it's easy to get caught up in the need to find the perfect college. Then there's all the work of taking tests, writing essays and applying to get into that schoolnot to mention waiting to hear back from the admissions office at Perfect U.
As you go through it all, it's easy to lose perspective. But think of it this way: God isn't as concerned about the final decision as he is the about the changes in your heart along the way. Don't get me wrong. God cares very much about what happens to you (see 1 Peter 5:7). That includes which college you choose. But God is mostly concerned about what you learn during your journey to that final decision. He wants you to grow in your faith as you make important choices about college and life after high school. But that can be hard to remember during those busy, decision-making times. How can you focus on learning from the journey when you have to make sure you get to your "destination"the right choice?
Here are three things that can help: First, trust God. His Word tells us that God has a good plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11). He cares about us and wants to help us. Even during the stress of the search, he is in control. He promises to lead us to the right place (Psalm 37:23).
When we remember that our trustworthy God has a plan for us, it's easier to surrender the decision to him. In fact, it's good to do that before we even start to look at schools. Pray something like: "Lord, I know that you love me, and you care about this decision. I want to make this decision in a way that pleases you. I want you to be in charge of it. Please lead me, and help me to sense your guidance." Prayers like this one can help us realize that the decision is in God's hands, and that he will guide us, our parents and even the admissions counselors at the schools we're applying to.
We can also focus on God's work in our hearts during this journey by submitting to him. After all, his Word reminds us that sometimes the plans he has for us are different than our own (Isaiah 55:8). Because he made us and knows us, his way is always best. But what does submission look like during the college search? Well, it can mean praying that God will help us focus on what's important to him, instead of only on what we want in a school. It can mean listening to the advice of wise people in our lives, because we understand that God can use them to guide us. Even before a campus visit, we can ask God to open our eyes and heart to sense his direction. And when it's time to decide, we ask him to help us put his desires before our own.
So what happens when we trust God, surrender the decision to him, and submit to his way? Well, we begin to experience real freedom and real peace. We can rest, even when we feel a little stress. We have hope, because we know he's got something gooda good collegeahead. And we can rejoice as we see how God has used the circumstances of the college search to bring us closer to him.
Let the journey begin!
Abbie is the author of Keeping Your Faith In College (VMI Publishers). Her book is available on her website, keepingyourfaith.com.