Do the Next Thing

Recently I came across this poem on The Gospel Coalition website; I had not heard of it before. It was well-timed grace – “low inspiration”, customized by God for a low moment:

“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, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on 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, and 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 results, do the next thing.

Looking for 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.”

Some reflections on this poem:

  • Sometimes we “thinkers” can put a priority on thinking our way through the wet paper bags of our worries, cares and disappointments. The poet puts a value on thinking too – but in equal weight with movement. Faith is not waiting for our feelings to catch up with our thoughts. Faith is believing against our feelings, and moving, telling our feelings that they can come along or not, but we’re moving.
  • To put it another way, life is not always lived in adjectives, but in adverbs. But we like to measure ourselves by adjectives – how faithful is my faith? How supreme is my pleasure in God? How holy is my holiness? But what matters is whether we are moving, and who/what we are moving toward. Whatever the next thing is, the important thing is to do it, empowered by the adverbs: “reliantly”, “casting all care”, reverently – “tracing His hand who placed it before thee with earnest command.”
  • Faith is powerful only as it rests on Christ. We are strong “in HIS faithfulness” – only as we move and rest and hope on that sure foundation do we endure. The cacophony of inner voices are quieted as we shift weight onto Jesus’ finished work for us, and then do the next thing. By this faith He is too glorified.