Living Life in the DR

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Do the Next Thing

Sometimes life seems overwhelming. There are days when I'm just not sure if I can keep going. The tasks in front of me seem too big to tackle, the struggles of life seem to steal my joy, trials are pouring down all around and I find myself feeling inadequate and unqualified for the quest.

Elizabeth Elliot speaks of this after the death of her husband Jim Elliot. She states " 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. I’ve felt that way [other] times in my life, and I go back over and over again to an old Saxon legend, which I’m told is carved in an old English parson somewhere by the sea. I don’t know where this is. But this is a poem which was written about that legend.

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.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

Do the next thing. Those words have really resinated with me lately. It's not my job to have it all figured it out. It's not my job to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. It's my job to walk intimately with the God that knows me better than I know myself: the God who formed not only me, but earth itself, billions of stars, planets and galaxies. He's the God who sees all and knows all. All He asks of me is to walk faithfully with Him. He's the one who guides my steps. My job is to let go and let God. 

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly[a] with your God. Micah 6: 6-8 

There's such freedom in these words! I know I often feel the pressure to do it all. We have the tendency to want results and want them now. We question whether we've done enough or even done the right thing. We like to hold onto the lie that we are in control of our lives. But the truth is, the Lord is the one who guides our path and produces the fruit in our lives. He's in control. We can't change our circumstances, but we can change our perspective. He is sovereign and no one can thwart the plans of God. 

When life seems overwhelming, we can simply do that next thing. In the mundane, do the next thing. Step by step, trust the Lord. He desires a relationship with us. At the end of the day, that's enough. He is enough. Trust Him, lean in to Him and simply do the next thing.


Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Year to Remember??


    A couple weeks ago, Gabe preached a sermon on the life of Silas. He focused on a passage in Acts 16. 

"The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."

 Their response in the midst of trials and hardships has really resonated with my heart over these past few weeks. This past year has been a difficult year. It has been a year of disappointments, hardships and trials. We've seen; sickness and death, riots and persecution, people turning on one another. I think it's safe to say that we are all glad to see 2020 go. We are ready to check it off and move on. 

     I'm sure Paul and Silas could have had the opposite response to their situation. They were stripped, beaten, flogged and thrown into prison. Yet in the midst of hardship, they chose to praise the Lord and bring glory to His name. When we talk about 2020, will we praise the Lord despite the hardships? Will we persevere?  Paul and Silas' praises were a testimony to their ability to find rest in the one True God. 

"Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..."

     Their testimony changed lives! As a result of praising God in the midst of hardships, as a result of persevering despite the trials,  prisoners heard about the Lord. While we don't know if any of them were saved, we do know that when they had the chance to run, they remained with Paul and Silas. We also know that the jailer and his family came to know the Lord along with his whole family!

James 1 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 

     I pray that as we enter 2021, we don't just write off 2020 as a year to forget, but as a year to remember. I pray it was a year that brought us closer to the Lord. A year that caused us to realize that none of this is in our strength but solely in His. I pray it was a year that caused us to run hard after the only One who can truly sustain us and comfort us - to thirst for the truth and His word.  We don't know what 2021 holds, but we can pretty much guarantee that 2021 will have its own set of trials and struggles. Whatever this new year may bring, I pray that it causes us to come to realize our deep need for our Savior, that we would persevere and run the race marked out for us, and that our lives would be a living testimony of the one true King!

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