Nine Days of Survival || Day One
The Next Right 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 resultings, do the next thing.”
We learned of Evie’s fatal diagnosis on Monday July 16th, 2012. I spent the rest of that day glued to facebook and my iphone, absorbing all the messages and texts from friends who said they were so sorry and were lifting us up and would be praying for us and if there was anything we needed, please let them know. I was grateful beyond grateful for their support and outpouring of love.
But I knew I couldn’t live there. It was July and Evie wasn’t due until November. I couldn’t spend the next four months of my life, eyes fixed on a screen, hanging onto every word that came because somehow those words made me feel validated and cared for and significant. I could not function day to day that way.
The Lord brought to mind the words of JoAnn, my Sunday School teacher from the women’s class I had attended just about one year before. This lovely woman had a two-year-old and one-year-old twins when her husband decided to abandon their family. She was left alone and completely overwhelmed.
In an effort to move forward and out of sheer necessity for the survival of her little family, JoAnn recalled the words of Elisabeth Elliot, wife to missionary Jim Elliot, a man who was murdered by the very people he was trying to reach for the gospel. In her new role as widow, Elisabeth Elliot said what kept her moving forward after her husband’s death was to just do the next right thing.
The next right thing. It worked for my friend JoAnn, it worked for Elisabeth Elliot, surely it could work for me too.
The next day was Tuesday. My typical Tuesday chore at that time was to change the bed sheets. I decided that was the next right thing to do.
I remember having to very consciously think about how to change the sheets. I remember feeling almost like I was learning to walk again – navigating these waters of knowing what was to come all the while living in a very normal world where very normal things still needed to happen. I was always very aware of having to think about what that next right thing was. I guess that happens when your default is to lay in bed and cry.
If you’re struggling to survive right now, ask yourself what is your next right thing? Do you need to start a job search? Make a phone call? Empty the dishwasher? It can feel so unnatural to do something so ordinary when your life feels upside down, but maybe that’s right where you need to start. Maybe that is your next right thing.
Father, be with those of us who are struggling to accomplish that next right thing. Give us strength and grace to put one foot in front of the other. Give us courage to start. And give us perseverance when we feel like we’re drowning. In Your Name, Amen.