Doing the Next Thing

I decided the best way to jumpstart my new blog would be to be a part of Shannon’s Works-for-me-Wednesdays. I blog regularly at Only Help My Unbelief (formerly called Grace, Grammar and Good Eats), but in an effort to focus my writing, today I’m premiering my new blog focused on developing a frugal, simple, healthy, fit, godly life. Thanks for stopping by, and please subscribe to my feed if you like what you see!

When you don’t have a job and grow tired of looking for one, sometimes it’s nice. I have time to do whatever I want, I often think. But within a couple of minutes of “doing whatever I want,” I quickly feel unproductive. This makes me feel like a complete failure, which makes me feel like I can’t do anything productive, even if I want to. It’s a vicious cycle that can only be stopped by the grace of God.

A few nights ago my mom was sitting and talking with me about different places to look for a job. She reminded me of a poem Elizabeth Elliott mentions in one of her books. The poem is called “Do the Next Thing,” and the basic premise is that when you’re in the middle of a desert, so to speak, thinking about the future is overwhelming. In fact, God commands us in Matthew 6 not to worry about tomorrow. Instead, we should just do the next thing.

Yesterday I had to make a lot of phone calls. I really don’t like talking on the phone about such matters as asking people if they have any job openings, so I was dreading it. But I had taped the words to this poem on the bulletin board above my desk, and as I read over it again, I just thought about the next thing I had to do. I prayed a quick prayer that Jesus would give me the grace to do that next thing. The phone call was over in about 30 seconds. And suddenly I was encouraged and invigorated to accomplish the rest of the things on my list!

Seriously. Doing the next thing works for me.

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 all 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, 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.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing;
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.
–Author unknown



Filed under works-for-me-wednesday

6 responses to “Doing the Next Thing

  1. Eve Nash

    In AA (and other 12-step programs) this is a common expression (although slightly different than yours), which is:
    “Do the next right thing.”
    Lots of people who are recovering from addictions almost need to be taught how to live again, and this is such valuable advice—Just do the next right thing.
    It also gives a person confidence—it’s short, sweet, and we all really know what the next “right” thing is.

  2. excellent concept. sometimes i struggle with getting everything in line so i know what the “next thing” is!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this! It was a blessing to me today! 😀

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I also struggle with getting overwhelmed when I think about everything that needs to be done, and ironically, that’s when I shut down and do nothing. This is a great way to remember that I just need to put one foot in front of the other. 🙂

  5. Carla

    Thanks for sharing, I can really relate! I have been looking for a job for several months now after completing my graduate degree. Sometimes it can get very discouraging, but I will keep this poem in mind. Thanks again!

  6. As women we are so aware of everything we CAN’T do, we often forget to ask ourselves what we can do. We always do the next right thing.

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