Mom, the retired grade school teacher, filled me in that the House Education Committee approved a bill that, if made into law, would allow parents of children turning 5 in August – like Alyssa – to petition their local school for the child to be able to enter kindergarten. (The current regulation is that a child must turn 5 by August 1st.)
The Big Decision
Mom and I both have been concerned that Alyssa will have to wait another year and a half to begin kindergarten. She is reading better at 4 than Drew did when he started kindergarten at age 6. She’s not any smarter than he is; she simply is drawn to learning earlier than he was. I didn’t begin teaching her at home for a few hours per week for any reason other than I knew she was ready to learn. There is no question in my mind that Alyssa would be ready for kindergarten next year.
But… I have all these reasons why I want her to wait. Granted, many of them are selfish. I’m not ready to give her up every day just yet. But some reasons are legitimate. I had an August birthday and was the youngest in my class. Academically, I was fine. But socially, it wasn’t easy being the youngest.
What should we do?
Sign #1: The Tomato Seedlings
My mind wandered to my emerging tomato plants. Having little success starting plants from seed indoors the last two seasons, I purchased a grow light. The LED light worked so well in my “laundry room greenhouse” that my tomato seedlings are ready to go outside–except, of course, it’s not warm enough for tomatoes to be planted outside yet.
I have replanted my seedlings into larger containers as they’ve continued to grow. They are beautiful and green, but they are getting too tall and “leggy.” I fear keeping them potted for another few weeks will not be good for them. They’re ready to go out into the world and begin doing what they were made to do.
Alyssa: My Little Tomato Seedling?
Aha! I thought. Alyssa is my little tomato seedling. She’s ready to go to the next step. If this bill becomes law, I need to try to get her in kindergarten. If I don’t, won’t she languish next year? Won’t she struggle through kindergarten when she finally begins?
Yes, Alyssa is my little tomato seedling. God used nature as my sign to tell me what to do.
Sign #2: The Beefsteak Tomato
A few days ago the weather warmed, so I decided to take my most vigorous tomato seedlings to the porch. I thought some real sunlight would do them some good, plus allow some of my shorter plants to get more benefit of the grow light indoors.
Walking with my head high, proud of my strongest Beefsteak, I placed it into the sun. A few hours later I decided I would take a picture of it. But when I walked out, I found it bent over from the wind.
The wind wasn’t that strong really, but my untested Beefsteak couldn’t stand upright against it.
Alyssa: My Little Beefsteak Tomato?
Aha! I thought. Alyssa is my Beefsteak. She grew fast, appearing to be ready for the world sooner than expected. But if I put her outside now, won’t she topple with the slightest breeze?
Yes, Alyssa is my Beefsteak. God used nature as my sign to tell me what to do.
How can Alyssa be my little tomato seedling and my Beefsteak?
God is sending me mixed signals. Isn’t he?
Signs and Open Doors
I long for signs. I long for open doors (even a shut one would suffice). But I think my tomatoes taught me something more important. I can’t rely solely on signs or open doors to know the heart of God behind my big decisions.
Although Jesus performed signs and wonders, he didn’t do them upon demand, or per request. Many times when people requested signs, he pointed to their underlying unbelief. (John 4:48).
Is Alyssa my little tomato seedling or my Beefsteak? Maybe both. Maybe neither. While it’s good for me to see both possibilities, I can’t rely on one or the other. Instead, I will pray for guidance and be open to where God may be leading me through prayer and by Scripture.
In my experience, God’s direction has been less about signs and more about that still, small voice that speaks peace to an unknown circumstance.
If that bill doesn’t become law or if I petition and it’s denied, I’ll have my closed door and that will be it. But if I have the choice, I’ll make it to the best of my ability, trusting in the peace that comes through the relationship that transcends any sign or open door.
For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:22-24 HCSB)
Do you tend to search for signs when making big decisions? God can certainly confirm his voice through various means, and we certainly do see him using signs throughout Scripture. But before relying on a sign, ask yourself, “Have I spent time in prayer and in Scripture first?”
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