What Do I Do Now?

“There is a Power, whose care

Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,—

The desert and illimitable air

Lone wandering, but not lost.”
I first studied the poetry of William Cullen Bryant in a college literature course. I didn’t care much for poetry in college because I thought it was hard to read and understand. But even in college I loved this one stanza from Bryant’s poem To A Waterfowl; I especially love the last line of the stanza– “Lone wondering, but not lost.” That is how I sometimes feel–like I’m wondering alone through life lost and confused. It’s good to be reminded that even when I am lonely, I am not truly alone and even when I feel lost, “There is a Power, whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast.” Life can certainly feel like a pathless coast. What am I doing? What am I supposed to be doing? What do I do next? What does God want–what is his “will”?
Knowing the will of God is something you hear a lot about but many of the answers you receive are vague and confusing. Some people think God’s will (or plan for your life) is mystical and rooted in some kind of feeling that God is leading you to one thing or the other. Others think God’s will is very precise and concrete and that there are very specific and definite things you should be doing.  Personally, I believe God’s will is very practical and is very  step by step and day by day. I don’t believe I can tell you exactly what God’s will is for me for the rest of my life but I do believe I know what it is for today. For today God’s will is the practical things before me–going to work and doing my best, taking care of our home, being financially responsible so we are able to move forward with our goals and plans, being faithful and obedient to the truth, and so on. I don’t believe God is trying to trick me or hide his plans from me. I believe that as I walk in daily obedience God will daily make my path straight and will show  me what I should be doing little by little.
Today is not the hard part for me–tomorrow is. Tomorrow is hard because I don’t like waiting and I want to know what’s next. Tomorrow is hard because Darren and I are thinking through some big decisions that will change all of our tomorrows and it’s not easy not knowing exactly what is best and which path we should take.  One decision could affect all of the others and may possibly change the course we’re on forever–that’s scary and it’s a big responsibility. When I’m struggling with knowing what to do next and worried about making a mistake, the last stanza of Bryant’s poem comforts me:
“He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must trace alone,
Will lead my steps aright” (Italics mine).
Sometimes decisions are hard to make and it’s not easy knowing what to do next, but in these moments I believe God simply wants me  to look to him and trust that he “Will lead my steps alright.” I need to pray, obey, do the best that I know how to every day one step at a time–and trust that God will take care of the rest.
Here’s the complete poem that I have been referring to:
To A Waterfowl
Whither, ‘midst falling dew,

While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
          Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler’s eye
Might mark thy distant flight, to do thee wrong,
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek’st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chaféd ocean side?
There is a Power, whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,—
The desert and illimitable air
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere;
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end,
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.
Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form, yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.
He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must trace alone,
Will lead my steps aright.”

7 thoughts on “What Do I Do Now?

  1. You’re a wonderful writer with good insight-

    I know that whichever paths you choose to take now, God will still be there with you in the future to point you in the eventual direction of His will. There is no wrong path if you’re thinking and acting in accordance with His word, as I believe you are. Thanks for sharing!!!

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  2. Love this poem Kari, thank you for sharing it. I was really able to identify with your article, so many times I just feel lonely, empty. It’s hard to explain because I know I’m supposed to be happy, life is pretty good right now, but still those anxious moments come and I find myself prostate before the Throne begging God for comfort and peace. And always through the storms of this life He answers with “the peace that passes all understanding.” I will be keeping you and Darren in prayer for the decisions you are making (you are always in my prayers). Love you!

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    • Hey mom, thanks for your comment. I have the same times of inexplicable loneliness and sadness but through those times God teaches me to rely on him and not the people and things around me. Thank you for your prayers. You know how Darren and I are–always moving and changing like a couple of gypsies ;] We just need wisdom in knowing what’s next.

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      • I love you! And I very much enjoyed our conversation this morning. I had struggled with depression for a couple of days previously (one of the joys of menopause so I’m told) and woke up this morning feeling better, your call was just what I needed to make my entire day a bright one! God is so faithful to meet EVERY need, even when we don’t really know what we need.

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