The Next Right Thing

So many of us look ahead and try to figure out what’s next. We are the fierce planners, the goal setters, the relentless pursuers. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I just knew it was my destiny to be a lawyer. My life the next ten years, I had it all planned out. And, nothing went the way I expected. For a long time, I viewed myself as a failure for not achieving that goal. Then something changed. After a decade of beating myself up, I realized that even when I ran from Him, God’s plan for my life had always been in motion. I don’t have the power to screw up God’s plan, and neither do you, friend. In fact, now I can look back and see how He used every, single thing – every hurt and every skill, every joy and every mistake – to get me to this moment of radical obedience and existential hope. God doesn’t cause hurts or frustrate our plans, but He won’t waste them either.

I was talking about this with my 20 year old daughter the other day as she was planning her next 10 years. Being a lot like me, she finds stability in visualizing the end-state and thinks in “if, then” statements. “If this happens, then I’ll…” And, then it hit me, straight in my heart and it came out of my mouth as if the words sat on my tongue, poised to leap.

I asked her, “What is the next right thing?”

How often do we miss the moment because we fear an uncertain future?

How often do we miss the “now” by focusing on what “may” happen tomorrow?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” This is a lesson I’m learning and relearning. We don’t need to know the end, to take a step. Instead, we need to ask ourselves, “What is the next right thing?” and do that.

Faith looks a lot like risk and feels a lot like vulnerability. We like the word “faith,” but we don’t like the feeling of risk or vulnerability. Yet, real change happens beyond our comfort zones and outside of our own well-laid plans.

I’m not saying abandon goal-setting. In fact, what I’m saying is to have God-sized dreams instead of human ones. Though we make our plans like it  depends on us, we must live our lives in such a way where we know it is up to God; in this congruent, vulnerable, and flexible state, searching for God’s will and submitted in radical obedience willing to change our plans for His.

That’s how God works. He’s in the waiting. He’s in the now. Embrace each moment. Be brave in the face of ambiguity. Instead, leave the choice to Him, and be ready experience the miracle.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

stay connected:

Dawn Sutherland

misfit-writer-speaker & social-justice-wannabe. I wander, but I'm not lost. I love Jesus not religion. My heart's cry is for every person to feel an empowered sense that they belong, and that we get to face the world wild and equipped with the love and hope of Jesus. I live in Suffolk, Virginia with my amazing husband, Louis and have four awesome kids: Katie, Ronnie, Selah, and Sami. I am also a passionate fitness instructor at the Suffolk YMCA. Subscribe to the blog, and stay tuned in for the book YOU BELONG to be published soon, which will talk about our desire as women to "fit in" and how we can harness that to change the world!