What Do I Do Now?

The sky is blue. The wind is cool, but the temperature is up so the flowers are finally blooming everywhere. Although late this year, spring, it seems, has finally arrived in Atlanta! So with the threat of frost officially behind us, the warmer weather has sent gardeners like me into a flurry of activity.  My grandmother (who had decades of farming experience) always advised planting vegetables the weekend after Easter, however this year a full month of volatile weather pushed our garden planting way beyond that. But this past weekend, Clif finally managed to get the dirt turned, rows laid off and by Saturday afternoon our plants and seeds were in the ground.

That left the remainder of the weekend for doing some much-needed cleaning up around our garden which … by the way… left our kid’s sense of joy somewhat “muted”. I mean, who really wants to fold underlayment, pick up trash from last season and fill garbage bags when there are video games to play and friends to hang with? I get it, but “the family that sows together, grows together”, and “the family that cleans together, leans together” so I insisted that they stay until the task was done.

About halfway through the tidying project, the hot sun was waning, along with everyone’s enthusiasm evidenced by an increase in ‘shade sitting’ and a decrease in work production. As I was closing up yet another trash bag and pulling it out of the can, I called for one of the kids to go get some extras so we could finish gathering up the rest of the trash and head inside. This “chosen” child retrieved another bag, but simply tossed it on the ground in my direction before returning to the cool of the shade.

Now, over the years we’ve done enough gardening for all my kids to be able to anticipate what to do next and then go do it without me having to micromanaging their every move. So I looked over my shoulder, caught the eye of this kid and I said, “Tell me what I really wanted you to do.”

The response: “Open the bag and put trash in it…..”


Isn’t this exchange just like how seasoned believers sometimes interact with God? Often we spend inordinate amounts of time standing still, waiting to be told what to do.  But due to exposure to our Creator through His Word and by being part of the body of Christ, most of the time we should already know what to do. Of course, there are situations where we need specific guidance, and times when we are told to wait, however there are a vast number of other questions that have already been covered in the pages of the Scripture. And even when there aren’t cut and paste answers about things that didn’t exist in ancient times (like social media, cyber security or consumerism), the Bible is full of valuable principles that do give solid guidance in handling 21st century problems. That’s called wisdom. But too often, Christians just stand idly by, never really understanding why we fail to get a tailored ‘to-do list.’

As it is explained in a wonderful post on John Piper’s website, it’s because

 God values us being transformed and conformed more than being informed.

Romans 12:2 famously says Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” But have you ever really considered that the best way for us to demonstrate just how much we’ve actually been changed is by evaluating the decisions we make in the vacuum of specific instructions? The direction of your thoughts and the values that are in your soul are revealed in the hundreds of choices you make every day. I mean, how you interact with your annoying co-worker, what you say on social media, how you fill out your tax return and yes, how you complete tedious jobs that you don’t really want to do are all clear indications of how your mind is conformed…revealing clearly whether you are shaped by the world or by the Word.

So when God doesn’t answer your questions with specifics to “go here”, “do this” or “stop that”, it might be that (like my kids in the garden) you already know what to do.  Of course you need to, pray.  And yes, you need to ask, but at the same time, you can also be certain of what to do when you don’t hear any answers.  In those times, make wise choices based on what you know about God, what you’ve read in His Word and how He’s acted in the past. Once your mind is conformed by those things, then -as Romans 12:2 says- you will be confidently “able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

16 thoughts on “What Do I Do Now?

  1. Bisi says:

    Thanks Karen, there are times when we think we are waiting on God, however God is waiting on us to do what we know is right, and to follow His nature. I heard someone recently say “Don’t wait for God to do something. Step out in faith and He will follow”. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Angela Pelleman says:

    Karen, this an excellent example of how we can make good decisions even when we “don’t know what to do.” It deserves to be read by many people so I’ll share it soon on The Silver Lining Ministry page. This is something I try to get across with my own kids, even the grown up ones! Even if we have trouble making decisions, or knowing what to do; we can look at what God would want us to do at that time, and just start there. In the case of gardening as a family, we had the SAME recent issue! We said the same thing… well, what is the right ting to do right now; if we are family and clearly some help is needed? The right thing is to pitch in at least where you are able, because the Bible teaches us to be selfless and help others. Our garden day didn’t even take long and everyone said it wasn’t that bad after all. It gave us time together; and now, only two weeks later, we are reaping the benefits of vegetables beginning to grow! When we don’t know what to do, we really can ask, “What would Jesus do?” We can start there. Thank you for an inspiring, helpful read!

    1. Karen says:

      Thanks Angela! I think the unintended consequence of teaching us to search for God’s will is that people sometimes wait when the thing that needs to be done is obvious. Yes, we need to seek His will always, but we also have the discernment of the Holy Spirit that can help us choose rightly as well.

  3. Lori Schumaker says:

    Such great wisdom in knowing the next right thing to do! Thanks so much, Karen, for sharing this at #MomentsofHope! You KNOW how much I love stopping by here to be challenged and encouraged ♥
    Blessings and smiles,

    1. Karen says:

      I appreciate your thoughts and insights too Lori! Grateful to be co-laborers in Christ with you!

  4. Joy says:

    This is fantastic, thank you Karen. It’s so true. I’ve definitely had the mentality of wishing there was a “tailored to-do list,” and this is such a good reminder that sometimes, we need to just get up and move. I like how you used your kids as an example too, because I’m sure God pushes us gently the same way you did.

  5. MEL THOMPSON says:

    What wisdom you bring to God’s Word, Karen. Letting my mind look back over the years of gardening, I remember the ugly tomato worms I used to pick off the tomatoes in the early morning. Sometimes, they were so camouflaged amongst the green leaves, they were sometimes missed until the fruit was eaten the next day. But then transformation! The Greek word for “transformation,” is “metamorphoo”, where we get the English word, “metamorphosis”. The unattractive, ugly green caterpillar TRANSFORMED into a beautiful Butterfly. Thanks again, Karen, for stirring my interest in gardening and the similarities in the Spiritual!

    1. Karen says:

      There are a myriad of analogies that can be found in the natural world -and especially in gardening- that teach us spiritual truth! Planting, weeding, insects, harvest, diligence, the value of hard work, etc etc I find them almost every time I go out to work… hey, it’s almost like God set it up that way, right? haha! Appreciate your thoughts always!

  6. Anita Ojeda says:

    Oh, this is so good, Karen! I do a lot of standing around, sad to say. I KNOW what Jesus wants me to do…I just don’t have the ganas to do it (ganas is a great Spanish word that roughly means ‘desire and initiative).

  7. Sarah says:

    Lots of good thoughts here, and yes too often we stand around waiting to be told.
    Glad spring is finally here in Kennesaw!

  8. Alice Walters says:

    Dear Karen, this is so good! Sometimes I just need confidence to DO what the Lord has been teaching me. The joy comes in knowing He is as much with us in the doing as in the learning. Thanks and blessings for sharing another great lesson from life!

  9. Shannon says:

    It’s amazing how we can sort of deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re not sure how to handle a particular situation or we’re not sure what to do, when really we know. Scripture may not say it explicitly, but the principles are there. Thanks for this very relevant reminder!

  10. Gayl says:

    Yes, sometimes we know exactly what to do but secretly hope that God didn’t really mean that. Other times we aren’t sure of all the steps but we do know where He wants us to start. Yet we might still be timid and not want to take the first step trusting that He will show the way. But it’s so much better to trust Him, isn’t it? Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TuneInThursday.

  11. Amy Hagerup says:

    “God values us being transformed and conformed more than being informed.” This phrase really hit me right between my eyes because I am such a learner. Thanks for a great reminder today.

  12. Char says:

    That’s a good point Karen. Often we do you know exactly what we need to do. I have a friend that says when we don’t know what to do we should continue doing the last thing that God told us to do – until we hear differently.

  13. Lisa notes says:

    I always need to be reminded of this: “God values us being transformed and conformed more than being informed.” I tend to love information, but it’s secondary to transformation! Thanks for sharing this, Karen.


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