Do the Next Thing - a testimonial

I know this poem has made the rounds, particularly in home-school circles, but it has an interesting place in my heart. Mainly because the title became a mantra of sorts for me long before I'd ever heard the poem.

To those who know me, this story is old news, you may skip ahead to the poem. For the rest, here's the story: I came to Christ in the weeks after my former husband left me for another man's wife. Knowing how God feels about divorce, I thought if I went back to "living like a Christian", He would certainly be on my side and help me get my husband back. I had turned to God after a life of rebellion, like I always did, for purely selfish reasons - to get out of a fix. This time, however, something different happened. I became so broken and so keenly aware of my sinfulness that, for the first time in my life, I realized I needed to be saved. I didn't just need a change of circumstances - a fresh start, I needed a new heart. For the first time I realized how kind and merciful God had been during my life of rebellion, and was thankful. I began to think that God may have had a purpose in this dreadful turn of events and began to take comfort and delight in the thought that He might even be glorified in my life somehow(not something I ever cared about before).

I had immediately, the same day I was abandonded, abandoned my alcohol abuse thinking it was the sole cause of all my problems; but soon began to examine my life carefully, particularly focusing on my bouts of rage and depression. I realized it was my sin that was the source of my depression and with much prayer decided to abandon my anti-depressants cold-turkey, knowing full well there would be horrible withdrawals. In my heart I knew I'd never have any certainty whether I was really trusting in God or in the drugs unless I stopped taking them. (This is the part where people usually wish I would stop talking. But please understand - I'm talking about myself. I'm not sitting in judgement over everyone who takes such medications. If you do, and this kind of talk bothers you, remember, you answer to God, not to me. My intention is not to condemn but to offer hope.) Three days later, as withdrawals were setting in I found myself trying to pray, desperately needing to pray, but there was a cigarette in my hand. I was a heavy smoker. I looked at that cigarette and thought, "I can't pray with you in my hand" so I quit. And there I found myself, at the age of 40: grief-stricken, unemployed (I didn't mention that before), horribly sick (the withdrawals, grief, and an abdominal infection had caused me to drop 30 lbs in a matter of weeks to 97 lbs.), suffering agonizing mental disfunction from the chemical shifts from giving up anti-depressants, and surprisingly, worst of all, desperately craving a cigarette. Yet alongside that grief and pain was hope and very real joy. That was the beginning of a period of two years of seeking the Lord, waiting, and praying. In those two years God changed me and my entire life. But how I got through it all was moment by moment prayer, Scripture reading, study, and these words: "Do the next thing". I don't know where, but I must have heard them somewhere; and they stuck. I learned that every simple task could be an act of worship. I learned to be thankful for every simple task because it was God who'd set it before me and given me the breath and strength to do it, because it was no longer meaningless or futile.

That was over 4 years ago. I've since married a dear Christian man and those two years prepared me to be a good wife to him, and to walk through today's difficulties with hope. And when things get overwhelming I can remember to just...


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 says 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 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

"And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart." Galatians 6:9

Thanks to my friend Elizabeth S. for providing me with the text of the poem, which she got from Elizabeth Elliot.

Comments

Andy C said…
I did not fully understand "Do the Next Thing" when you posted the comment the other day.

Thank you for the courage to share this with us all. He truly is a glorious and awesome God, words that should be reserved for Him, and Him alone.
Betsy Markman said…
Wow, what an awesome testimony! I'm glad you told it even though it may be "old hat" to some, because I had never heard it, and it was an encouragement!
David Porter said…
Laurie,

Your courage, for the sake of Christ, is beautiful.

The wonderful thing about the Internet is that, generally speaking, we can only see your heart through the words you type on your computer screen.

I began to see your heart as we journeyed together through Jonathan Edwards. It mattered not, from whence you came. All we could see is your heart, as it is today. Seeking to know more of the beauty of Christ.

When I was struggling, you were always the first to come to my aid. For that, I thank you.

You have been the most encouraging of sisters to me.

I am so pleased that you have now the courage to shed your former self. I am so pleased that God has not let you go.

I am so pleased, that because of your love of Christ, you have the courage to take the next step.

You have a gifted mind, and I look forward to seeing Christ exalted through your witness.

I look forward to watching your young marriage grow and blossom.

I look forward to someday seeing you both, in heaven, experiencing the constantly growing joys of Christ, when by the new senses of our glorified bodies, we are able to enter into the fullness of all that God has for us.

So..yes....do the next thing. And I, for one, look forward to finding God's glory in your steps.

Your brother in Christ, to you both,

the Boomer dude.
ke4juh said…
Laurie,
Beautiful testimony, I’m glad God brought you into the flock and now I know the rest of the story. I have my own saying; it doesn’t have as much to do with my story in Christ as to my laziness and procrastination…”Just get on with it!” I’m still a lazy procrastinator but that’s another story.
God bless,
-jim
The Scotts said…
Laurie, what an incredible testimony that so speaks loudly of God's grace!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart and the poem as well. I am praising the Lord for you and what He has done in your life!
I am proud to be a friend of this Laurie. This Laurie is my friend. Yay!
-n-
Laurie M. said…
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32

And as if His Son was not enough - God has blessed me, in Him, with such dear brothers and sisters!
Lisa notes... said…
Laurie,
This is so ministering to me right now. Thank you for pointing this in my direction. I'm thankful to God for pointing YOU in my direction. You've been a blessing to know.

I had never read the poem; God is meeting me in it.
Lisa

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