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“DOE THE NEXT THYNGE”

“DOE THE NEXT THYNGE”

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

After my wife Melodee died in 1986 I was heartbroken and confused, and at a loss to know what to do.  I was the single father of two young sons, pastor of a church, and trying to find my way.  I searched books about knowing God’s will and asked others for advice But it was my late father’s words that helped me most: “You do what comes next, and do the best you can”.  Simple words from a humble man that have served me well.

Having been a pastor, chaplain, and spiritual director, I often meet with people at a loss about what to do.  I am often grieved and perplexed by what some people are facing, and feel my words to them inadequate.  Then my father’s words often come to me:  “You do what comes next, and do the best you can”.

I recently read George MacDonald’s novel, The Seaside Parish, in which he tells about a sixteen-year old girl not knowing what to do with her life.  I thought her father’s words to her about as good as my father’s words to me:

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 ready for what comes next.

I like that!  Do what you have to do, and you will find yourself ready for what comes next.  The words sound something like what the apostle Paul urges in today’s text: Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord…”; the Lord will reward you.

The American writer Eleanor Amerman Sutphen wrote a poem based on the old Saxon legend, “Doe the Next Thynge”.   Here are a few lines from Sutphen’s poem that counsel what to do next:

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: “DOE THE NEXTE THYNGE.”

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, doe the nexte thynge. (Emphasis added)

After Melodee died, I decided I’d do the next thing.  Getting breakfast ready.  Getting the boys off to school.  Heading off to work.  Not worrying about tomorrow, but doing the next thing.  I left the rest to God.

Grace and peace,
Tim

photo by _snapies_

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