Do the next thing

Ok guys…keeping it real today. I want to put a disclaimer right here at the front that I don’t mean this as a complaint in any way but just as a real picture of our life right now and hopefully an encouragement to anyone feeling the same way.

Since joining MAF in January of this year and starting our journey towards overseas missions, we have been in constant transition. We’ve had to transition to Marcos working from home, to us working together as a couple (talk about working on your marriage!), to being on the road more than we’re home, to late nights and loose bedtimes, to doing an extrovert job even when my introvert side needs a break. It has felt like we are careening toward the verge of chaos while at the same time being sustained and holding it together by the grace of the Father.

And then there’s the to-do lists and decisions. Get passports and immunizations. Speak at churches. Sort through the house for pack-out. Ship. Sell. Store. Decide when, and if, to sell our house. Where to live? Where to travel? When to take a break?

We have so many plates spinning that at times it feels nearly impossible to keep them all going. So many days this has been my prayer, “God I am so overwhelmed! I don’t even know where to start or what to do.” And more often than not, this is what the Lord brings to mind: Do the next thing.

As many of you know, Elisabeth Elliot (wife of Jim Elliot and influential author and speaker) passed away in June. She was one of my heroes and all-time favorite authors. In her book “The Shaping of a Christian Family” (which I highly recommend) she shares a poem entitled “Do the Next Thing”. Ever since reading this book a few years ago, I have thought this poem was wonderful but especially now, in this season. God has been using it powerfully in my life. So in her honor, I wanted to share it with you today.

Do The Next Thing
From an old English parsonage,

Down by the sea,

There came in the twilight,

A message to me;

Its quaint Saxon legend,

Deeply engraven,

Hath, as it seems to me,

Teaching from Heaven.

And on through the hours

The quiet words ring

Like a low inspiration-

Many a questioning, many a fear,

Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment,

Let down from Heaven,

Time, opportunity,

Guidance, are given.

Fear not tomorrows,

Child of the King,

Trust them with Jesus,

Do it immediately;

Do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;

Do it with reverence,

Tracing His Hand,

Who placed it before thee with

Earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence,

Safe ‘neath His wing,

Leave all resultings,

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,

(Working or suffering)

Be thy demeanor,

In His dear presence,

The rest of His calm,

The light of His countenance

Be thy psalm,

Strong in His faithfulness,

Praise and sing,

Then, as He beckons thee,

-Author unknown

I have repeated that to myself countless times over the past few months. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to figure out the big picture and feeling overwhelmed that I don’t have it figured out. But that’s not my job!

My job is obedience. Faithfulness in the little things. Do the next thing. That next thing in front of me might be one more bedtime with two little ones. It might be one more conversation when I’m feeling drained. It might be grace for my husband when our personality differences come out. It might be one more road trip. Whatever it is, that is the task in front of me and my job is to “Do it immediately, do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care”.

Another one of my favorite lines from the poem is this, “Stayed on Omnipotence”.

Stayed” in this old English usage means “steadfastness” or “to prop, support, brace, hold up, bolster”.

Steadfast, being held up by Omnipotence. The One who is All-Powerful.

Some days I can’t do the next thing. But I am being held up by the All-powerful God who had all of my days planned before I was born. He knows what’s coming next and as He brings the next thing along, He also gives me the strength to do it.

What is your “next thing?” Maybe it’s something as small as a sink full of dishes or maybe you’re facing a major life hurdle. Whatever it is, rest on the All-powerful One and do the next thing.


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