What, no “to do” list?

It’s been a part of my weekly routine for as long as I can remember… the “to do” list.  It’s how I’ve always done business.  There was such satisfaction at the beginning of the week seeing black on white what needed to be accomplished.  There was a sense of control seeing all those huge, unruly projects corralled onto one page of my steno pad.  “Ha!  Take that, task list!”  But soon enough the list seemed to taunt me instead.  Each time I looked at the list I’d find a million excuses to avoid the things I disliked.  I logically reasoned to myself, “At least they’re on the list.  Surely they’ll get done eventually.”  Instead I’d chose the menial tasks that were easy or fun.  They would take all my time and by the end of the day there was that list staring back at me… smirking I’m sure at all that I didn’t accomplish.  Just for spite I’d add things to the list that I had already completed just for the satisfaction of being able to check them off!!!  Silly, I know.  Each week I thought I had my task list under control, but the truth was, my task list controlled me.

A few months ago I was reading about the construction of the tabernacle and the construction of the temple in the Old Testament.  It’s not the most entertaining reading.  There are lots and lots of details: physical dimensions, types of materials, layout, design… you name it, God included it in His plans.  But there were two verses that stood out to me.   “So all the work on the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses.”   (Exodus 29:32)  “In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.”  (1 Kings 6:38)  These two monumental projects were completed, finished… just as the Lord had directed.  For whatever reason, after reading these verses I felt a challenge from the Lord.  I wanted to speak those words “finished” and “completed” for all my “to do’s” at work.  But how?

The answer wasn’t what I was hoping for.  I had hoped He would infuse me with some supernatural energy and attitude that would make every task on my list seem easy and I would breeze through all them day after day.  I had hoped maybe He would provide a few extra hands at work to help take the burden off of my shoulders.  But, God had a different plan.  He told me to get rid of the lists.

It’s been months now and I still shudder at the thought.  What, no “to do” lists?  He couldn’t mean that!  It was like ripping a security blanket out of the clutched hands of a toddler.  But God’s challenge to me was this:  Do you trust me?  Am I not aware of every task you have been given to complete?  Have they not passed through My hands before they were given to you?  Do I not know every due date? Am I not the Master of efficiency?  Do you trust me?

It has not been easy but I am taking Him at His word.  The “to do” lists, at least for this season in my life, are no more.  I get to work and I listen.  I wait to see what He is going to put in front of me and I do it.  I have a general idea of what needs to be accomplished but I try to regularly resign that agenda to Him.  It’s been uncomfortable to say the least!  It has caused new paths to form in my mind and my heart that are hard to express.  I can no longer measure my success by the number of check marks on a random list that I created.  I can’t create for myself a sense of security (no matter how false) of being in control of my projects.  I also don’t find myself arguing with myself over what needs to be done and what can wait.  If He brings it to mind I do it… or at least try to practice “immediate obedience.”  I don’t always do it right and I too often get distracted by email or web searches.  But, the work is getting done.  How much?  I don’t know exactly… I don’t have a list to compare it to.  🙂  But I do know that He is faithful.  He has made sure that things were completed when they needed to be.  He has allowed me to meet deadlines that in some cases I was oblivious to.  He is faithful, even when I am not and things are getting done.

So, I measure my days now by how often I’ve gone to Him to lead me.  I’m not yet used to that but I know He is growing my faith in the process.  I challenge you to take Him at His word and trust Him.  It’s a wild ride and it will take you out of your comfort zone, but He is faithful… that I can promise you.

Thank you, Lord, for your challenges to us.  Help us to trust you more.  Take charge of my schedule whether at work, or at play, or at home.  Help me to submit my will to yours in every area of my life.  Thank you for your constant faithfulness even when mine wavers. In your Son’s precious name, amen.

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