One day I was looking through a journal I have had since high school. In it I keep quotes, cartoons and pamphlets that are meaningful to me. I came across a pamphlet that was given to me during my husband’s seminary years. I was privileged to learn under Elisabeth Elliot.
The pamphlet is entitled Do the Next Thing. The author is unknown. I have printed it below:
At an old English parsonage down by the sea, there came in the twilight a message to me. Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven. And all 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 tomorrow, child of the King, trust that 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.
Do the next thing."
When I read these words I was able to get up and do the next thing on my list. I realized that I did not have to spend my time worrying. I didn’t have to allow thoughts of future events that had not happened yet from ruining my present. All I had to do was the very next thing. I had to sweep the floor, vacuum the house, care for the children or run my errands. I did not have worry.
In Matthew 6:25-34 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Today has enough to deal with. Focus on the tasks in front of you. If you find yourself in a situation that seems overwhelming commit it to prayer then do what you can. Sometimes the answer will be in the very next thing you do. When I allowed myself to simply do what was necessary I was less anxious and my world seemed less scary. Some of the tasks I had to do were hard.They themselves were overwhelming. But breaking them down I could look at the task in small steps instead of the whole thing.
My year is ending better than I once imagined it would. It is different than I had planned but in the end it is turning out better than I planned.