Do the Next Thing

I read this poem over at Rocks In My Dryer yesterday, and passed it on to many of you via email. However, I couldn’t let this gem go by without sharing it here too. Along with my own thoughts on it, of course.

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, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors 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, and 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 results, do the next thing.

Looking for 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.

-Anonymous

I have learned in my life that the “next thing” is often the dishes, the laundry, the grocery shopping, or any one of the multitude of mundane tasks that take up my day. Very few of us are called to what we perceive as a lofty place on earth. The vast majority of us are called simply “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God.” (Micah 6:8b)

The Christian life is far simpler than we often make it. “Do the next thing.” How much more simple could it possibly get? What a joy and a relief that we don’t have to look any farther forward than that! What comfort it brings me to know that at any moment, I can know what God’s will is for me, simply by looking around my home, seeing what needs to be done, and doing it.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17 – emphasis mine)

Whatever you do.

Why do we try to complicate a really simple matter, thinking that God’s will for us must be lofty and supreme and declared to us in some kind of code which we need extra intelligence to decipher? Ridiculous.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. (Deut. 30:11-14 – emphasis mine)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Cor. 1:27)

Are you foolish or weak at times? Rejoice! You are in glad company! It is you God wants to use to accomplish His infinite will! And achieving His will often involves simply living your life, moment by moment, listening to His voice telling you to “do the next thing.” Then doing it.

And He is faithful. He doesn’t hide from His children. Jesus promises that those who seek, will find (Matt. 7, Luke 11). Unlike man, God keeps His promises. Always.

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num. 23:19)

So, have confidence. God will answer.

When He does, smile, thank Him, and “do the next thing.”

**********UPDATED A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER**********************

Well, after that lovely-sounding blog I just wrote about “doing the next thing,” you’d think I had it down, right?

Wrong. Yes, I’m doing the things I need to be doing today.

However. I’ve forgotten to include my children in the grace God has shown me. They’ve learned how to really push each others’ buttons, purposely, and much screaming, fighting, and general hullabaloo is the result. My fuse is not long when it comes to sibling rivalry.

I need Jesus example planted firmly in front of me. I need to remember why he went to the Cross. I need to remember that I am supposed to follow that same, hard example.

As simple as it is (and I stand by that), it’s never easy to walk in a way that reflects what I talk about so readily.

Lord, help me! I am in dire need of a takeover. Fill me with Yourself, don’t allow any room for impatience and anger in me. Forgive me, yet again, and help me to move on and take the next step, remembering Your great love for me…In Jesus’ Name…

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