The Next Step

Do you allow the unknowns to hold you back, or have you laced up your running shoes? The other night my

photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from
photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from

daughter and I were talking about her future, plans, and God’s call in general. She wondered why so many people end up in jobs that make them unhappy. Though I doubt there’s a simple answer to that question, I do believe a common one is fear or lack of surrender has prevented many from embracing their call. Fear of the unknown, motivating Christians to choose that recession proof job, or perhaps lack of surrender that allows materialism and greed to take hold, motivating them to choose a higher salary over that which they were created to do.

Today a sweet friend and woman I admire, Jan Pierce, shares how God challenged her to step out in faith, even Jan-137acrop1when the road felt uncertain and unclear, and the results of that first step. As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her book, Homegrown Readers. The winner (from the continental US only) will be randomly selected from the comments left on today’s post.

But first I wanted to announce the winner of last week’s give-away. Sherry Popovic, congrats! You won a copy of Stephanie Landsem’s novel, The Tomb. I’ll be contacting you shortly to chat about how to best get that to you.

“Help, Lord, I don’t know what I’m doing,” became a common prayer. He answered, “Just go through the next door. Just take the next step.”

The Next Step by Jan Pierce

Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way.” The NIV says it this way: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.”

Ten years ago I was a busy, frazzled schoolteacher wondering when I could retire. Please don’t misunderstand. I loved teaching and I loved first and second graders. But I’d begun my teaching career in 1967, and nearly forty years had gone by since I was a skinny twenty-one-year-old novice. I was tired.

My husband had been traveling to India. A retired pastor, he’d found exciting projects to take on—house church planting, education scholarships for orphans, homes for abandoned widows. I was still home, living the less-colorful life of an educator.

Then in 2007 we were able to sell my husband’s business, pay off our home, and put me on the blissful road to retirement. The circumstances came together rather suddenly, and I hadn’t given a thought to what I’d do after teaching. Sleep? Shop in stores during daylight hours? Sit in a favorite rocking chair and read endless novels?

God had other plans.

I remember the evening I sat with my husband and close friends and, speaking of India, out of my mouth popped, “I might go

Photo by Noppasinw taken from
Photo by Noppasinw taken from

too.” The words surprised me as much as everyone else, but as I spoke them I knew them to be true.

Shortly after, I attended a women’s conference and took a workshop on the importance of story. Yes, I agreed, people’s stories are important. Another attendee directed me to a writer’s conference put on by Oregon Christian Writer’s. The minute I entered the doors I found kindred spirits.

God did something big in my life in 2007. He knew all along that we would start our NGO, Teams India, and make regular trips to the hectic cities and dusty villages of India. He knew I’d take to writing like a duck to water and begin the use the words that had always roamed around in my head and heart.

By nature I’m a chicken. And, I hate to make mistakes. Well….God has a sense of humor. India is challenging, but invigorating. And writing requires a never-ending series of risks and mistakes and then the task of fixing those mistakes. At sixty years of age I began two of the most exciting journeys any person can take.

“Help, Lord, I don’t know what I’m doing,” became a common prayer. He answered, “Just go through the next door. Just take the next step.”

I could do that. So I attended conferences, I got a web site, I learned to draft and submit. I took baby steps.

I traveled to India and taught children to read English. I failed, but we had a great time together. I taught Bible study methods to women in India. I learned lessons about humility and grace and received much more than I was able to offer them.

I chose to take the next step God revealed. I wrote devotionals, short inspirational pieces, parenting and family life articles and stories of India. I did a lot of listening. “What’s next, God?” When I became anxious or stressed about all the things I didn’t yet know, I remembered, “Just the next step, that’s all.”

Homegrown Readers coverThis month I released a new book for parents. It’s called Homegrown Readers: Simple Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read. (Buy it here!) For many years I sat across a table from parents during those dreaded parent-teacher conferences. There was so much to share about learning to read but never enough time. Now there is. I’ve shared a lot of practical ways to support children as they learn to read. Often it’s the little things that make a difference, a prompt here, an encouraging word there.

Holding my own book in my hands was a red letter day for me. It marked the culmination of a long series of next steps. And guess what? The Lord has already given me a new assignment—a book on homegrown family fun.

Those who serve Jesus never truly retire. There is so much to do. My two great joys in this segment of life are missions work in India and writing. I never would have believed I’d be doing either one. But God knew my steps and He ordered them especially for me.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her book, Homegrown Readers is available on Find her at

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Has God showed you your next step? If not, pause, draw near to Him, and ask Him to show you, and quiet yourself to trust His leading, determining to focus not on the unknowns ahead but rather that very next step. If He has shown you what your next step is, are you taking it? If not, why? If so, share the feelings that arise as you follow His plan for your life. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.


  1. Oh how I could relate to the fear. Here I am in Maine, taking care of my mom and her friend with Alzheimer’s. When you speak of baby steps, Jan Pierce, I am in the same boat. Let’s row together praising God for open ministry. That’s how I have to look at it. What a glorious opportunity to give as He gives. Thank you Jen for posting this. Blessings.

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