Do the Next Thing

This has been one of those weeks where everything hit the proverbial fan.

fordtow940x760The highlight was getting into an accident on an icy hill that put my car into the shop, and then learning the damage would be far too costly to fix. At home this week, we’re dealing with friend issues, piles of homework, sleepless nights, a house that’s still being put back together after a painting marathon, fighting colds, a long bout of anxiety, a big software release at work, and two broken hearts (and a partridge in a pair-tree). I don’t often feel overwhelmed, but I certainly have this week.

Do the Next Thing

The good news in all of this is that we’re healthy (aside from the colds), no one was hurt in the accident, I’m steadily and happily employed, we have plenty of food, and have a decent roof over our heads. Just being thankful for those things has gone a long way in keepin’ on keepin’ on this week. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt overwhelmed and was starting to forget what that feels like — and then this week happened. I’m hoping that in a couple weeks things will be back to “normal” (whatever that is).

Do the Next Thing

With everything that’s going on right now, I think the “two broken hearts” is the hardest element to deal with in all this. One is freshly broken while the other is slowly healing. The rest can be boiled down to tasks to check off, taking one thing at a time, working through it, then moving on to the next one. Usually I can turn off my brain and just tear through everything, but having a broken spirit just makes everything feel like sloughing through mud. At least all the other issues have temporarily taken a big part of my attention off myself and placed it elsewhere (like on my car).

Do the Next Thing

In all this, I’m finding that lasting growth and depth in my heart occurs just as with most other things: in exhaustion, in being pushed and pulled and stretched, and in being carried through various upheavals when it’s completely out of my control. It’s not necessarily when we’re in love that our hearts grow the most and the deepest (though it may certainly feel like it), it’s in the storms or even in the aftermath, when you can’t sleep a wink and continually pour over everything. “What could I have done or said differently?” “How can I possibly fix this?” “How can I do better next time?” “How could I have loved better?” “When will I feel whole again?”

Do the Next Thing

Something else I’m finding is that in helping another with their broken heart, you can help your own. As I’m comforting and counseling my youngest daughter in her broken relationship, I’m hearing many of the same words being spoken to me in the night that I have spoken to her. Words like, “Time and God will heal this”, “I’m here for you and am right by your side”, “I’m not going anywhere”, “I am for you and we’ll get through this together”, and this week, “Do the next thing.”

Perhaps there’s something to that proverb that says “Whoever refreshes others will themselves be refreshed” after all. Half the healing process with my daughter is keeping her busy and her mind occupied (which isn’t always easy with a young teenager — Squirrel!!). For myself, I can always find something to keep busy with, even if it’s not all that enjoyable. But for her, it’s different and more intense — particularly since the wounds are still so fresh and open.

Do the Next Thing

I first learned of the phrase “Do the Next Thing” from Elisabeth Elliot around the time of her passing in 2015, and she had drawn it from an old Saxon poem after her husband was martyred (mentioned on her “Gateway to Joy” radio program):

When I went back to my jungle station after the death of my first husband, Jim Elliot, I was faced with many confusions and uncertainties. I had a good many new roles, besides that of being a single parent and a widow. I was alone on a jungle station that Jim and I had manned together. I had to learn to do all kinds of things, which I was not trained or prepared in any way to do. It was a great help to me simply to do the next thing

The Saxon poem which helped Elliot through her grief and the incredible challenges that followed is:

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

Do the Next Thing

When things don’t go according to plan (OUR plan) — particularly when it’s a major upheaval — it’s always helped to look on the bright side of things and try to find something (sometimes anything!) to be thankful for. “What is God doing in all this?” “What is HIS plan for allowing this to happen?” “What does He want me to take away from this?”

However, when reality jumps back in and my mind/heart start swirling with anxious thoughts, sometimes the conversation gets rather ugly and accusatory words pop out, like “God, don’t You know I was relying on that!” “How could You allow this to happen?” “Why didn’t You DO SOMETHING to prevent that?” “What the heck am I supposed to do now?” “How can things be made right now (and right now!)?” “When will this end?”

Do the Next Thing

So this week after everything went from a normal (harried) cadence to a transportation crisis, a lot of ugliness popped out of me, particularly at night after the kids went to bed and the day was finally, completely over. But after the angry questions were asked, sleep still didn’t come and the Bible was opened (reluctantly, I’m afraid). Reading several of the Psalms helped, along with James’ “Count it all joy” verses. And while reading the Bible and praying may not change our circumstances, they (in being used by the Spirit) certainly help in changing our attitudes and perspectives. It certainly changed some of mine.

Do the Next Thing

prayer2-620x499It’s not in normalcy that we are usually tested and the true nature of our hearts are really exposed (both good and bad), but in the crises. How does our actual response to a crisis match up with how we want to respond or how we should respond? God can certainly handle our embittered and accusatory questions (thanks for taking those arrows, Job!) but in the end it’s we and our attitudes and perspectives that need to change, not Him and His. He’s working on US in this life, not vice-versa.

And with that in mind — knowing that these situations are actually heart/attitude issues that He’s using — it boils down to a matter of faith on my part. Knowing that He’s at work and is ALWAYS working (John 5:17) helps take my focus off all the problems and overwhelmingness of what’s going on and re-centers it on Him and rubber-meets-the-road faith and trust. Do I trust Him enough to provide for my transportation needs? Do I trust Him enough to provide the finances to buy another car? Do I trust Him enough to provide for us even though things are rather tight?

Do I trust Him enough to mend our broken hearts? Do I trust Him enough to obey Him, follow Him, and “Do the next thing” for Him? Do I trust Him enough to give us a future though things look very bleak at times? Do I trust Him enough?

Do the Next Thing

So for now, “doing the next thing” for me is trusting Him and then finding another reliable form of transportation. After that, it’s church, homework, finishing the house (my kids are REALLY sick of seeing blue-tape everywhere), and… Doing the Next Thing.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” — Philippians 4:6

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About Chris Hambleton

Chris resides in Denver, Colorado, where he is employed as a software developer and consultant. He has authored more than a dozen books, as well as developed several websites, software applications, and written software-related articles. His other interests include traveling, hiking, running, studying the Bible, reading American history and politics, and literally devouring good fiction books. Recently, he has been learning to enjoy classical music, playing the piano, and learning Hebrew.
This entry was posted in Character, Christian-life, Family, Personal, Prayer, Refactoring, Trust and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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