What To Do When You Can’t Go On
by Darlene Sala
This month we remember the life of Elisabeth Elliot Gren, 1926-2015. A woman whose unflagging faith and courage carried her through the loss of three husbands, missionary work and Bible translation among the Auca and Quichua peoples of Equador and decades of challenging the world with her speaking and prolific writing.
“Just do the next thing” was the advice missionary author Elisabeth Elliot gave to her daughter, Valerie, when she called on the phone one morning at a point of desperation. Homeschooling mother of eight, Valerie had reached the end of her resources. “What do I do, Mom? I just can’t go on.”
“Just do the next thing!” her mother counseled her.
I can totally relate to Valerie. And I don’t even have eight kids! But many a time I’ve been at that breaking point when I felt I couldn’t clean up another sticky mess or tackle another pile of laundry or answer another email. But “do the next thing”? Most times I felt more like sitting down to watch a mindless movie on TV than to “do the next thing.”
Now, let me be honest, I do like to make lists. Somehow having a list of what needs to be done and crossing off what actually gets done gives me a great sense of satisfaction. But how decide what should be the “next thing”?
Okay, what is it you absolutely have to accomplish today? I mean, if you don’t get another thing done today, what’s the one thing must be done? Then, leave everything else and get started on that one thing that is essential. True, you may never finish another thing on your list but you will have done the one thing that was crucial.
Another rule of thumb I try to follow is: “Whatever you dread doing the most, do it first and get it out of the way.” My friend Ed Wright relates life to a TV reality show when he advises: “Eat your bug first”–do first that thing you hate doing the most.
Colossians 3:23-24 gives purpose to what we do, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Follow this advice, and at the end of the day you may be tired, but you’ll know you’ve done your best.
Not familiar with Elisabeth Elliot?
Do you have a favorite Elisabeth Elliot quote?