Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Next?


When even the wealth of books to read feels overwhelming,
When the clutter threatens to take over the living room and overflows the closets,
When the to-do list exceeds a single sticky note,
When the creative juices boil over the sides of the days onto a hot burner and add one more thing and it all just seems too much,...

In better moments, I remember Elisabeth Elliot's voice speaking into the mess that is me, saying simply,
Do the next thing.
And I remember that I don't have to have the whole week planned out, or even the whole day. I remember all the times I thought I knew the plan, and God laughed and tore it up and gave something better (maybe harder, but by faith I will say better).

Taking a deep breath, I scan the list and ask my Master, "Okay, what's next?" I do that one thing, and ask again, and do the next thing, and ask again, and do the next next thing, and so forth until the next thing is bed and sleep.

It doesn't all get done, but all He wants is done, and His grace is sufficient for the done and the undone alike. Besides, the Lord God doesn't desire my productivity as much as He desires me, my trust, and my abiding moment-by-moment in Him.

Elisabeth's byword came to her by means of a poem which she would often read on her radio program, "Gateway to Joy." Often that one sentence is enough for me, but here is the complete poem for those who would like it.
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--
"DO THE NEXT THING."

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 THE NEXT THING."

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,
"DO THE NEXT THING."

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
"DO THE NEXT THING."
-author unknown

Sharing for the first time today with the Soli Deo Gloria community. Thanks to Jen for hosting and to Brandee for introducing me to Jen!


18 comments:

  1. Yeah. I used to teach with a Russian man who had a special way of saying (in Russian) that--if you keep doing the thing right in front of you--eventually you'll get it all done. It was so much better, the way he said it. Especially b/c he said it to me when my desk was CRAZY & stuff was falling on the floor, or when I was otherwise overwhelmed...Blessings, Christina!!!

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  2. @Brandee Shafer Exactly. That's when we need this principle the most, isn't it? Blessings back to you, Brandee.

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  3. I love that poem and Elisabeth Elliot! I needed the reminder today though--so as usual, thank you:) Gateway to Joy was a favorite for a long, long time.

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  4. Do the next thing -- I may bloglift that saying for myself. I can certainly use it when I'm overwhelmed.

    Blessings,
    Pamela

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  5. @Amy Me, too, on all counts. I miss her voice on the radio and in conferences, but I am thankful to still find something fresh every time I pick up her books.

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  6. @Pamela "Bloglift" - love that! Since I borrowed it from EE, who borrowed it from an anonymous poem, be my guest. Simple sayings are the handiest sometimes. Grace and peace in Jesus for whatever is overwhelming you today.

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  7. This is so often what I come back to...I love Elisabeth Elliot's words...
    "Do the next right thing" is my go-to for whenever I start to feel overwhelmed.
    Love that you love Elisabeth Elliot.
    Have you ever read Andree Seu?
    I think you might like her essays as well :)

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  8. I love this and remember sharing that quote on my blog awhile back. Such a good reminder - thanks!
    Stefanie

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  9. I remember doing a Bible study and I learned to, when overwhelmed, to simply ask God, "What one thing should I do?" It made me focus on His tasks instead of my own and made the whole day seem much less overwhelming.

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  10. Very much enjoyed this. I love Elisabeth Elliot!
    And this is so true, "It doesn't all get done, but all He wants is done,"

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  11. @KaraI have only read a few of her essays online. Perhaps Ann linked to one recently? One of the essay books is on my book wish list now, so perhaps soon I can answer yes. The online pieces were excellent.

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  12. @Eileen Who doesn't love Elisabeth Elliot? Thank you so much for stopping by. It's lovely to meet you.

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  13. I've come back to that quote many times over the years. (And I usually hear it in Elisabeth Elliott's voice)

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Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.