What's Next?

It’s funny how God always seems to take a hold of the things you have planned and turn them into something completely different, but something much greater. It just serves as a sweet reminder of our utter need for Him, and the desire we should have to depend on him for all things. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to write this month’s blog about, but the problem with that was that it’s what I thought was best and what I wanted to write about. I quickly found out that it was not what God had in mind. By spending intimate time with the Lord, I have discovered how much access God gives us to His heart and how closely we can walk with His Spirit. I feel that I more clearly hear that still small voice, guiding me towards His ways instead of my own.

Every Sunday afternoon I have the privilege of helping lead a Bible study for the girls in the youth group at my church. A couple of weeks ago at that Bible study, I had one of those moments when God tweaked my plans for this blog post. When I say tweaked, I mean changed completely. Since I am one of the “leaders,” I went into Bible study assuming that God was just going to use me and speak through me to the girls in the room. It is as if I stepped into it with the arrogant mindset that I had nothing to learn. As if God could not speak to me through Bible study meant for younger girls in seasons that I have already traveled through. As if I was above them and knew it all. I went into it expecting to teach instead of be taught. That subconscious arrogance disappeared as God opened my heart to what I thought I knew, and helped me to see it with His eyes instead of my own.

In our study we were discussing idols in our lives. As a Christian girl, that’s a pretty common topic of discussion in the church, so again, I didn’t think I had much to take away from this lesson. Instead of discussing material idols in our lives, we were focusing on idols such as the need for acceptance. Our pastor’s wife then asked us to think about what similar idols we place above our relationship with God. As I sat there to process and digest that question, God spoke to me, and as I shared His words with the girls in the room, it was as if God was not only speaking through me, but speaking directly to me. As I was talking, what came out of my mouth was very clearly something that I could not have come up with on my own. I realized that I needed to hear what I was saying just as much as I thought the girls in the room needed to hear it. It was that “Aha moment” that people talk about, and because of God’s words and the feedback I received from those words, I knew in an instant what the blog for January was going to be written about: the idol of constantly chasing what is next.

As humans, we are always striving after what’s next and what the next best thing is. Even if we try to fight it, the world makes it difficult because of their demand to always know what’s next in our lives. I think I discovered other people’s discontentment with my “next” when I was a senior in high school. It started with others wanting to know where I was going to college. Once I made that decision, people wanted to know what I was going to major in, and then it was, “Well what are you going to do with that major?” Once I got a job that has nothing to do with my major it was, “You aren’t going to do that for the rest of your life are you? When are you going to get your Master’s degree? When are you getting married?” Now that those questions are answered, and I am newly married and starting the process of pursuing a Master’s degree, people want to know when I’m going to start having kids. It never ends. We idolize what is next not only because other people are always asking it of us (although that does make it harder), but because we are seeking full satisfaction in it. We seek full satisfaction in the “next” because our culture teaches us that what we have now is not good enough, and something bigger, better, and greater will always come along. So why be content in what God has provided us with now when, according to the world, there is always something that we need to be looking forward to? The thing is, only God can fully satisfy. So of course when we want our “next” to become our “now” and satisfy our lives, it comes up short, we are disappointed, and seek the next thing hoping we will be filled and satisfied with that. It becomes a cycle in our lives that never ends unless we take action against it.

Have you ever found yourself saying, “If I could only have _____________, then I would surely be happy.” You fill in the blank. Now, what happens when you get that thing that you know for sure will make you happy? You aren’t happy and start the statement over again, filling the blank in with something new. When we idolize and chase after what is next, not only do we hinder God from being our satisfaction, but we devalue what we do have now. We miss its beauty and take it for granted. Those things that we place in that blank can be great things, but if we set the expectation on them to fully satisfy our hearts and our lives, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Whatever that blank is for you, it was never meant to and will never be able to reach the expectations and standards you place on it. Therefore, you may miss how
wonderful ____________ actually is because you gave it an expectation that it could not meet. When ____________ didn’t meet that expectation, all you were able to see was “not good enough” when really, it is all it was ever created to be for you.

This would be like me expecting my husband to satisfy every part of my life and meet my every need. With placing that unfair expectation on him (because no matter how hard he tries, he would never succeed at meeting that expectation), I am setting myself up for disappointment because nothing he ever does, no matter how good it is, would be good enough. It would always fall short of my too high of expectations. I would miss the blessing that him and our marriage is in my life because I would want more. More than he can provide and more than our marriage was ever created to provide. I would devalue something so valuable.

If our satisfaction is in Christ, those things that we always want next will be so sweet and so beautiful when they do become our “now.” When we stop chasing our desires and start chasing Jesus, He gives us the desires of our heart because our desires match His. When we surrender everything at His feet, what we chase after becomes nothing other than Jesus, and when we are chasing Jesus wholeheartedly, everything else we strive after seems to fall into place. It falls at our feet according to God’s will instead of our own selfish desires and control.  When God is our satisfaction, our “next” only satisfies to the extent that it can satisfy. Ceasing to seek full satisfaction in the “next” causes us to appreciate the current. We become content in all that we are blessed with, and don’t always want what’s next. We trust that with God, the best is yet to come and He is in control of our best “next.” The key is fulfillment in God, the one who blesses; not fulfillment in the blessing.

My charge to you is to find time every day to get alone with God. Hear me out because this may seem crazy, but find time to spend with God that makes you uncomfortable and requires sacrifice. This will not be easy. This requires and creates discipline, but it also creates such a deep desire to spend time with our God because you are sacrificing something else that is important to you in order to do so. God rewards those times of sacrifice that we make to spend time with Him, and I often find that He rewards with His words and an ability to hear His voice so clearly. We enter into such deep intimacy with Him in these moments, and our spirit aligns with His. In that time in fellowship with the Lord, allow Him to step into your heart and fully satisfy your life. Close your eyes and pray this over your yourself. Pray that when you open your eyes again, you will see your life with new eyes; eyes that see the beauty around you because God is now your fulfillment, and everything around you is an extra blessing and provision from Him. Your next will become something you can wait for, and your current will be better than anything you could have ever chased after.