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Do The Next Thing

     Just over a year ago, I sat at the kitchen table with my husband.  I told him that I had this insane, totally crazy idea that I couldn’t shake.

     And I was trying to shake it.

     “I don’t want to blog,” I said.  “I’m not a blogger.  I don’t have time to blog.  I don’t want to talk about me.  What in the world could I say day after day?  I’d probably write for a month and then have to stop.”

     I tried to convince him that it was a stupid idea.

     He looked at me and said, “If God wants you to do this, you need to do it.  None of that really matters.”

     So I began writing devotionals online in a step of obedience. 

     I’ve learned that sometimes obedience simply means being faithful in the everyday tasks God has given us, giving Him glory in the smallest, most basic areas of our lives.

     Life rolls along in its repetitious way—commuting to work, picking up kids, going to church, supervising the brushing of hair and teeth, making lunches and cooking dinners.

     Then one day God asks us to do something crazy—like write a blog that you don’t want to write when you don’t have time to write it.


Start a new ministry.  Visit the nursing home regularly.  Take a missions trip across the globe.  Feed the hungry.  Foster or adopt children in need.  Make blankets for children in the hospital.  Volunteer at the local school.  Send shoes overseas.

     This is the way ordinary people like you and me can have impact in this massive world.  We move when and where God tells us to move and we serve faithfully where He has placed us to serve.

     Paul lived this kind of radically obedient life.  He was a tentmaker by trade and he had no qualms about setting up shop in a city and sewing tents during the moments he wasn’t teaching in the synagogue, writing the bulk of the New Testament, or preaching Christ to the Gentiles.

     This is what he did in Corinth when he stayed and worked with Aquila and Priscilla—tentmakers and teachers in their own New Testament house church (Acts 18:1-3).

     Paul easily could have lived out a tentmaking life with a small-town ministry to the local synagogue.  He could have made himself comfortable, happy and content there.

     God, however, told him to pack his bags and get going.  So he did.  In all things, he submitted to God’s direction and timing.

     During his second missionary journey, Paul wanted to travel to the Asian church of Ephesus, but “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6, ESV). Then, they “tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them” (Acts 16:7 ESV).

     After all those “no’s”, you’d think Paul would be discouraged.

     Instead, God sent him to Macedonia, where Paul became the first Christian missionary in Europe.  He baptized Lydia there and she started the first European church in her home.

     God reached a continent because Paul was willing to do the crazy and unexpected in obedience to God’s call.

     Even then, Paul could have settled into life as a missionary to Europe.  But now that the time was right, God released him to preach in Asia and off Paul went to Ephesus (Acts 18).

     This world needs us to live obedient lives, just as Paul did, yielding to God and going where and when He tells us to go.

     The people in our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our jobs need us to engage fully in the ministry God has given us in those places.  When God tells us to settle in and care for our families, we do.  When he tells us to minister in our community, we roll up our sleeves and serve.

     But we refuse to slip into complacency, snuggling down into our comfortable nests and spending all our time tending our own chicks and redecorating our own spaces with sticks and straw.

     So, if he tells us to pack our bags for a journey in radical obedience, we yank out the suitcase.

     How do we discern this?  How do we know what to do when there is so much need in the homes in our neighborhood and in the countries we can’t even locate on the globe?

How can a small-town mom minister to the poorest of the poor?  How can a working woman in a local school save orphans?  How can an average girl serve widows?

How can any of us reach the world with Christ?

     Elisabeth Elliott’s advice is just to “do the next thing.”

     We don’t need to have a map for our entire mission on this earth.  Paul didn’t even know from one moment to the next whether he was headed to Asia or Europe or just setting up a tent business in town for a while.

     But he did the next thing.  And then God gave him the next thing.  Then there was the thing after that.

     In every instance, he obeyed, whether it was simple or difficult, logical or totally insane.

     Has God given you a next thing?  Have you sat at the kitchen table telling someone how insane it is and how you don’t want to do it?  Has God asked you to do something that sounds impossible?  Has He opened your eyes and heart to need that you never noticed before?

     Do the next thing.  Don’t worry about meeting every need or making the project a success.  Just take this step of obedience.  That’s how we change the world, one submissive bowing of the head and bending of the knee at a time.

To read more devotional thoughts from Heather King, check out her blog here: http://heathercking.wordpress.com/

Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather King

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