Thursday, July 10, 2014


This post is a throwback of sorts. Originally posted over at and before I had graduated from college, the principles surrounding this word "next" still ring true today!

So, what are you doing after graduation? This question, often birthed out of innocent intentions, became one of my least favorite conversation starters a year ago.

I was stepping into my last semester of college and feelings of anticipation were creeping in, primarily centered around one word: next.

It was a season of transition marked by job interviews, final exams, resumes, lots of coffee, goodbyes and hellos. And at times, it felt like a blessing and a curse.

The dreaded “what are you doing after graduation” question left me with mixed emotions, making me feel as if I should have the next 10 years of my life mapped out, career moves in place, relationships in check. But then the weight of that reality would sink in: how was I supposed to plan the next decade of my life when I didn’t even have the day after graduation figured out?

Interviews lined up. I was applying for jobs I’d dreamed about, and then those opportunities were actually extended to me in a pretty package, but something wasn’t right.

I distinctly remember having a conversation with my Dad about one of my job opportunities and he looked me square in the eyes, asking one simple question: Have you talked to God about it?

Ouch. Well, in all honesty, I hadn’t…not that much anyways. I’d thanked Him for the opportunities, but taken them as a “sign” that God was blessing me with the “job I’d always wanted.”

I had to face a heart check. I could have all the opportunities in the world, but if I wasn’t where God wanted me to be, it was all pointless.

So I got on my knees. I grabbed my Bible. And I began asking for advice from trusted mentors who had already been down the graduate-from-college-and-apply-for-a-job road. One response took my breath away: “He [God] has never given me much of a blueprint or a five year plan…but He’s always faithful to show me the exact next step.” The. Exact. Next. Step.

That statement and the words in Galatians 6 paved the way for a paradigm shift in my life. I wasn’t marching towards a graduation stage to have life all figured out. I was marching towards a next step…a next step that God would provide.

Galatians 6:4-5, 8 in the Message says, “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life…the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”

These words coincided with advice from a second mentor, who shared this: “Discontent comes by comparison. I realized [in my journey] that I was comparing my situation to others and was becoming discontent. I was neglecting to be grateful for what was right in front of me.”

Later, Galatians 6:16 in the Message says, “It’s not what you and I do…it is what God is doing, and He is creating something totally new, a free life!”

Here I was doing, doing, doing. Applying for one more opportunity. Going to one more interview. Making one more update to my portfolio. And while I was responding like a frenzied windstorm, I was having conversations with my friends comparing my progress to theirs. Were they having interviews? Had any of them landed a job yet?

But I had it all wrong. Next steps aren’t about what I can or can’t do. They’re about what God is already doing.

My wise friend didn’t leave me hanging with his comparison truth. He invited me into the rest of his story: “My perspective began to shift as I felt God telling me, ‘Quit trying to figure out what’s down the road. Be obedient here and now, and I will open the doors.’” It’s not what I do…it’s what God is doing.

So I let go. I kissed pseudo-control goodbye and said, “God, I’m going to explore who You’ve called me to be, and in doing so, You show me what’s next.” You know what’s cool about that prayer? God showed up. He didn’t abandon me. He showed me a next that was even better than anything I could have created on my own.

And here’s the best part of it all: that’s who God is. He’s the God of next. But He’s also the God of yesterday, today, and right now. He goes before me and behind me.

I’m learning that it’s really ok to not know what I’m doing next. I’m just going to hold tight to Him, the very creator of my next.

This post originally appeared on 


thatjustinguy said...

Great thoughts. I gave found this to be wise and true over the 20 years since my graduation.

emilybcummins said...

Thanks for reading, Justin!!