There’s a town in Mississippi called Onward. It’s a blip on the map with little more than a few houses and a handful of ramshackle have-been stores. Our family drove through it on a 13-hour roadtrip a few months ago. As we passed the sign, I looked at Bobby and said, “Onward, ho!” my index finger pointed toward the open road. He grinned. We knew our destination, but the next restaurant? Just swamp, forest, and bear crossing signs, for the next 200 miles. What’s next is not always so obvious.
Earlier this summer I lay in a hammock in Israel and asked God:
- Where indeed was this writing thing going?
- What’s next for our family?
- What is the plan?
That elusive arrival. The be-all, end-all. Maybe it’s success, answers, or resurrection.
Many of our lives have been smoothly plotted
With expectations and a nicely typed syllabus. Remember those lovely documents back in college? You sit down the first day in class and the prof hands you a white document which says more or less: “By this course’s end, you will learn the following and this is how you will do it. Complete the assignment and you will get the grade.”
Onward, whether an abstract concept or a po-dunk town, is a place we’re all barrelling through looking for the next best place to fill up. If we experience even a slight delay in our plans, we throw trust out the window and tell the driver to climb in the back with the kids. I’m taking over, thank you very much!
God doesn’t really work like that. He’s a superb mystery most days, even when we’re seeking Him with our whole heart. He may give us a plan through His Word or an experience, but rarely does He reveal all the details.
On those long stretches of dark road we learn:
- to trust our guide,
- to enjoy the moment,
- to move beyond our fears,
- to get curious about our doubts
- and to keep going with God.
Two hours later we pulled into a Sonic lit up like a carnival. At 9 p.m. somewhere in Louisiana, we gratefully licked burger and fry grease off our fingers. Still hours from our destination, we had no idea there would be a mostly sleepless night ahead of us (ask me about kids sharing beds on vacation sometime). That we’d be eating beignets and listening to jazz in New Orleans in less than 24 hours. That the next day, we’d weep at the most beautiful wedding ever.
Today I’m still asking God, “What’s next?” for my writing and our family. There’s no black and white syllabus. It’s a whole bunch of uncertainty, every single day. There is, however, a full van, an open road, and a sign that boldly reads, “Onward!”
Thanks for joining me as we’ve explored uncertainty and faith in What’s Next? I’ve loved sharing travel stories and discoveries with you.