Trials and circumstances rarely greet us warmly. Especially when they shift and multiply, morphing into daunting options. This turmoil could be rendered a large part of the human experience in this fallen world; after all, no one has lived and not, at some point or another, felt completely overwhelmed by beleaguering decisions (or lack thereof) before them. Elisabeth Elliot, wife of the renowned martyred missionary, Jim Elliot, who was killed in 1956 trying to reach the Auca people of Ecuador, certainly knew this reality, perhaps more deeply than most ever will. While she didn’t author the poem below (the author is anonymous), she aided its soaring by quoting it. How many saints have taken refuge in the shadow of God’s wings because of these words? How many weary pilgrims has this poem spurred on to do all that they can do: take the next step? We believers are not commanded to know every step, but to take the next one resigning all to the covenant care of our Lord, who plans them all for his glory and our good.
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.