On the heels of one of the hardest years of my life, I naively assumed that this year would be easier–lighter–more bearable. I thought that certainly God would, at some critical point, swoop in and rescue me. He would save the day. I was sure of it.
But, difficult days continued to be rolled out before me. I was hurting both physically and emotionally. I was spiritually anemic. I was holding on to a kernel of faith and on most days I was starving for hope, in any form.
I honestly didn’t know what to do. I asked for prayer. Then I stopped asking. I tried reading my Bible, but each page felt like it was written as some cruel joke–a dangling carrot I was never to receive. I tried talking to friends and my husband, but eventually those conversations became redundant, leading me to feel even more unsure of where I stood with the Lord.
Each morning, waking up and deciding whether or not I trusted God seemed like an impossible task and one I wasn’t capable of making. It’s not like me to sit and do nothing though. I’m not one to roll over and play dead, even if the enemy would have it that way.
Instead, I kept being reminded of something I heard someone say once. They were quoting the giant of the faith Elisabeth Elliot, who once gave instruction that when your world crashes in, when your faith is challenged, when your hope is rattled you must “do the next thing.”
Mrs. Elliot gleamed this simple and profound truth from an Old Saxon poem:
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
Stayed on Omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
DO THE NEXT THING.
Each morning when I awoke and the weight of the day was placed upon my shoulders, I had a choice. I could rise up, hand the worries and anxieties of the day over to Jesus, and allow Him to carry them as He so graciously offers to do…or I could wear my worries with all of their lies, and condemnation, and shame.
So, I would breathe in deeply and let Jesus take them. Then, I would do the next thing.
Sometimes that would be attempting to pray. Sometimes not. Sometimes that would be listening for God’s voice. Other times not.
But, my concern wasn’t simply action, but motion. Was I making choices that were still propelling me toward God or was I choosing to be repelled away from Him?
Each question had a simple answer: do the next thing.
When I wouldn’t know what to do, or how to respond, or what to say to the Lord, I would simply do the next thing.
I felt assured, even when nothing else felt certain, that God would honor my obedience. I didn’t know when or how, but buried beneath ever discouraging thought and every empty prayer, somehow I knew that Jesus would see my obedience and act on my behalf.
What I didn’t know was that there would be no “saving.” He wasn’t going to intercede in some grand gesture and rescue me because, well, He had already done that some 2,000 years ago.
I was already victorious. I was already rescued, redeemed, and an heir to the King.
I had forgotten my true place and my true reality. I had let sorrow and stubbornness blind me from who I truly am.
For a time, all I clung to was the belief that obedience–doing what I knew was right–would unbind me. And it did.
Doing the next thing again and again and again…
Doing what I knew was pleasing to my Father
Doing it immediately
Doing it prayerfully
Doing it reliantly, casting all my cares upon Him
Tracing His hand…
Tracing His hand again and again and again, until all I could see was Him…
Standing before me, weeping with me, reaching out to me, and calling me His…