Coming in April – Lord, Teach Us To Pray, daily reflections on The Lord’s Prayer


Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

Don’t you feel like we have had a lot thrown at us these last months? The year 2020 feels like one train wreck after another; many of us are feeling emotionally exhausted.  The fog of breaking news can leave us doubly confused and anxious!

At this time of such so much upheaval and uncertainty, I often think of advice my father would give me when I did not know what to do.  He would say simply: “Do the next thing.” 

I have found those words clarifying in the midst of uncertainty, as the future comes to us just one next thing at a time.  So for now, help the kids with their homework.  Pay the bills.  Run that errand. Write the next sermon.  Return a phone call.  Fix breakfast.  As I do the next thing, the next thing that comes after has a way of falling into place. 

We see this in a scene from George MacDonald’s novel, Seaside Parish, in which a father offers advice to his daughter confused at a crossroads in her life:

What God may hereafter require of you, you must not give yourself the least trouble about.  Everything He gives you to do, you must do as well as ever you can.  That is the best possible preparation for what He may want you to do next.  If people would but do what they have to do, they would always find themselves for what comes next.

Doing the next thing, and doing it the best we can, helps clear the way ahead.  American writer, Eleanor Sutphen, left us a poem about an old Saxon legend, “Doe the Nexte Thynge.”   Here are a few lines from the poem about the wisdom and clarity of doing 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, a
Hath, it seem to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Low a low inspiration: DOE THE NEXTE THYNGE.
Drawing on that inspiration, Eleanor Sutphen continues her poem:
Do it immediate, 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 results, do the next thing.

These lines of Sutphen’s poem build on the thoughts of the apostle Paul in today’s scripture.  Doing the next thing as to the Lord and relying on Him is the best possible preparation for what God will want us to do next in these confusing times.   As we do the next thing wholeheartedly, we are promised, “that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”   He will open doors and close doors to get us where He wants us. So, by God’s grace, “Leave all results, do the next thing.” 

A fellow traveler,

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