When I was a new mom, I often felt overwhelmed by my circumstances. The crying, the whining, the mess. I would look around at it all and just want to sit down and have a good cry. At some point during all this, I heard Elizabeth Elliot speak on the concept of "do the next thing." She talked about how, after her husband Jim died, she would have been overcome if not for this simple concept. When her emotions would start to run away with her she would simply ask herself what the next thing she needed to do was. And then she would do it. And then she would do the next thing, and the next, and the next. And all those little "next things" made up her days.
I adopted this principle and began to whisper to myself, "Just do the next thing." Sometimes the next thing was change a diaper, or start dinner, or return a phone call. Even now I move through my day doing the next thing. Sometimes my next thing is to school the children. Sometimes it's to tidy the house. Sometimes it's to sit down and hammer out an article I have due. Whatever it is, I focus on that one task until it's done. And then I ask myself what's to be done next.
I always knew I learned this concept from a godly woman, but I never thought about this concept being from God. My reading in My Utmost For His Highest has helped me see that it is indeed a spiritual truth that God wants us to learn. Consider these two quotes:
"We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God's power... and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him."
"When the Spirit of God comes, He does not give us visions, He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable... whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-- the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there."
Chambers referenced the scene with Elijah where he is running from King Ahab. He is hungry and tired and very depressed. In that scene God sends an angel to him who says simply, "Arise and eat." (I Kings 19:5) What was Elijah's "next thing" he needed to do? Get up and eat something! Sometimes just moving forward in the most basic way is all God needs from us. With our obedience comes the solution we are seeking.
I hope this thought helps someone out there who is feeling overwhelmed and even depressed. What "next thing" is God asking you to do? Get up, do whatever it is, and find Him there.