I've been wanting for a while to post the Elisabeth Elliot poem below, if for no other reason than to have permanent, easy access to it here for my own inspiration - which I need daily, but some days much more than others. And then yesterday morning, I ran across this brief essay by Andreé Seu, a columnist for WORLD magazine...which - though my bondages are different than the example she shares - gets at just why I need Elliot's poem. So my juxtaposition here of the two concepts says it all.
I'm going to let the words speak for themselves and let you, my dear readers, apply them to your own lives if you so choose. As for me, I've reached another of those places in my journey this side of Heaven wherein I need to build an "altar" to the Lord - a symbol of sorts to show that I'm choosing to follow Him anew out of an area of bondage - and these two pieces will, by His grace, serve that purpose today.
Oh, if I can just avoid "putting on" my particular, besetting sin today - I don't need to think of forever, but just of this day - and, instead, simply do the next (right) thing moment by moment! Then, before I know it, I'll be laying my head on the pillow tonight with one day of freedom under my belt, better equipped because of success to do it again on Thursday and beyond.
An inmate I was visiting commented that some guys show up in prison in such bad shape that he looks at them and thinks, “That wasn’t an arrest; it was a deliverance.” There is freedom, and then there is just rope to hang yourself.
I wonder if most of us wake up in the morning to a variety of bondages, and we put them on like a pair of pants, because we’re used to them. It’s worse than that: We don’t even want to be free of them. There is a man in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce who is hagridden by an annoying lizard (lust) on his shoulder day and night. Yet when an angel offers to kill it, he doesn’t want to:
There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery. There is always something they prefer to joy—that is, to reality. . . . The time comes when, though the pleasure becomes less and less and the craving fiercer and fiercer, and though he knows that joy can never come that way, yet he prefers to joy the mere fondling of unappeasable lust, and would not have it taken from him. He’d fight to the death to keep it. He’d like well to be able to scratch: but even when he can scratch no more, he’d rather itch than not.How do you figure? Our bondages are ruining our lives—and still we hold on to them for dear life. Why? It seems to me we don’t really believe that God has anything to offer that we would like better. Heaven has always seemed boring to those who live in darkness. It’s just a matter of not believing God, I guess.
DO THE NEXT THING
At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours 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, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that 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 resultings, do the next thing.
Looking to 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.
Do the next thing.
Photo Credit: dotty.paprika (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotty4/296480750/)