I often lie in bed at night and either think to myself or say aloud to my husband “I got absolutely nothing done today.” It is usually because something unexpected happened – a snow day, one of the kids is sick, several phone calls from case workers or insurance problems.
I have a list. I work from my list. I check things off my list. I even have a master list and a daily list. And an online list.
Many of us do and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Some of us have lists because we like to be organized or we have a touch of (admitted) OCD in us. We might like the feeling of control we get from putting something on a list or we like the feeling of accomplishment we get from checking things off the list. And for many of us, it is because our life has become so complicated that without writing something down, it won’t be remembered, much less completed. All of these characteristics are true of me, I admit it.
But the problem that creates is that somehow the list takes control. The list becomes our life instead of helping us in our life. We live to check things off that list and the days when we check ten things off the list become somehow much better days than those in which we’ve checked absolutely nothing off the list. Those days become the days where we say, “I got nothing done today.”
But is that true? My list may consist of doing the laundry, paying the bills, calling this insurance company or this case worker, filling out this paperwork, doctors, therapy, and infusion appointments. And I may actually have gotten none of that done today. But what was I able to accomplish for God? How was I used by God in His plan? Did I impact the life of my child for the kingdom? Were there teachable moments that will instruct their soul for a lifetime? Maybe reflecting on those things at the end of the day will offer a long list of “accomplishments” where I thought I had none.
However, on some days, me thinking that I’ve accomplished nothing is really true in the end. Those are the days where I was so focused on my list that He had to do everything without me even being a helpful vessel. I was an entirely unwilling participant in God’s plan that day. His list. But His list is so much better than mine. His list is simply a list of names. A list of people that need to be drawn to His kingdom.
I would love to wake up in the morning and just have a list like God’s. Who can I impact for the kingdom today? My husband. For sure. My children. Hopefully. Their teachers, the dry cleaning lady, the checkout bagger? How do know if I’ve completed those tasks? If I can “check them off the list”?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:30-31. I think that is a good measure.
God knows we need to accomplish things in our day and I don’t think He despises our lists. That is, so long as our lists are informed by and filtered through His list. Maybe racing through the checkout lane would give me more time to … do laundry. But, does that person need the love of God today that might take 1 minute longer to give? Maybe sending my son to his room for his behavior would be the easiest thing to do, but does he need a biblical explanation of why God wants us to be kind and helpful to his siblings?
I need to work at filling my list with His list and making His measure of success, my measure.