A glance at the headlines in this newspaper might have a thoughtful person wondering, "What's next?" What's next in the economic situation facing the world? What's next in the delicate balance between global energy and global warming? What's next now that there is a new president-elect of the United States?
But many people just want to know what's coming next in their daily lives. While no individual human being – however intelligent, well educated, or well intentioned – can answer that question, there's a divine power that, when honestly and humbly appealed to, can lead to clear answers, even to difficult questions. It often helps to start by thanking God for the good He has already provided.
Recently a woman found herself wondering what the next step would be in her life. Her current surroundings were beautiful. She had meaningful friendships. Her talents were being used in new and rewarding ways. Yet she yearned to move forward. One day, as she sat reading the Bible on her patio, she paused to listen to the birds singing and to admire the roses. Suddenly she realized that she didn't need to know what was coming next, because God already did.
A wonderful peace came over her as she admitted that she'd had proof of His care for her all her adult life. She'd depended on God to guide her – with career choices, with the decision to marry her husband, with the tough questions that came later in raising a family. And never once had He let her down. She decided to make a list, right then, of all the times she hadn't known what to do next, and when, after praying, had seen clear evidence of answers to her prayers.
One event in particular stood out. She'd gone back to graduate school while her family was still young. Even this provision seemed like something good from "out of the blue." She hadn't been looking for more education, but a professor she'd met had mentored her, eventually recommending her for further studies at a prestigious university. Still she continued to pray, asking God often and fervently, in the words of a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science:
Shepherd, show me how to go O'er the hillside steep, How to gather, how to sow,– How to feed Thy sheep. ("Poems," p. 14)
During her first semester at the new university, she was standing in a long line of students to register for classes when she struck up a friendly conversation with the young woman in front of her, a student who was on a year-long exchange from Germany. The new graduate student and her husband had taken some German courses, so she tried out her skills. The German woman was delighted, and asked, "How would you like to go to Germany on this same exchange?" She took down the information, applied for the program, and was accepted. She and her family spent the next year in Germany, where she taught English at a university. And since she was paid an assistant professor's salary that year, she and her husband were able to pay off their debts before she pursued the rest of her studies.
Just a chance encounter leading to a nice year abroad? Maybe. But there's a point to be made. When we go to God with our smallest questions – when we continue to listen for His guidance – we can expect good to come, even in unexpected ways. It stands to reason that if there is some possibility of good that we don't know about, then God, as divine Mind, as omnipotent, omniscient Good, does already know about it. Our divine Parent wants only good for us. If we need to know something, this omnipotent Parent, who loves and cares for us, is powerful enough to make the connection for us. And to lead us there.
What's next? Thanking God for where He has already brought us is a good place to start.