You’ve been there before, I bet.
For me: The wall boasts a to-do list scrawled in various colors and medium (crayon, perhaps; whatever’s available before my brain suddenly transforms into mashed potatoes and I remember squat). The items extend from the mysterious acronyms and cryptic personal shorthand (E-M BR; write for GG); to the perpetual residents (laundry); of the far-fetched, someday I will do this, maybe-when-there-is-a-snow-day-even-though-I-live-on-the-equator variety.
And then—a phone call. A knock on the door. A request from a child or spouse or friend, or an e-mail that pries open my eyes how much a friend is hurting. For me—a power outage (sigh). Then water out (SIGH).
The to-do list is suddenly off-roading, hijacked by the urgent or simply the relational—but really, I think, by God, or at least what He’s skillfully allowed. The good works He’s prepared in advance for me to do occasionally do not conveniently coincide with those I have prepared in advance for myself.
I’ve had maybe three weeks in a row like this lately, which, as my schedule flops around like a fish, has given me some time to reflect. As much as I Heart Completed Tasks, what I am learning to love is knowing that He’s taken the wheel, or as TobyMac puts it, stolen my show. I guess I am nurturing an odd sense of satisfaction as I turn out the lights at night: Shoot. I got very few of these done. But hey, what if God hadn’t taken over?
I will admit that Africa has had a powerful hand in my acceptance of an open-handed schedule. It’s kind of like having a little calendar troll of your very own, patrolling in your kitchen with a big mallet. Plans, you said? HA! Got ’em. Not on my watch.
I suppose He’s training me to find at least as much pleasure in loving well and flexing with the Holy Spirit—knees bent, like skiing moguls—as in neatly penciling (crayoning?) a line through my listed hopes for a productive day, some version of Your kingdom come, my to-do list be done. If somehow I have my satisfaction set on productivity and achievement above God’s prescription for my calendar, there’s more than my To Do list that’s disordered. It’s my worship.
As it is so often, C.S. Lewis encapsulates it beautifully:
The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.
A friend e-mailed me recently about all she was struggling to juggle; all the voices weighing in on her packed schedule. She mentioned how the words of Peter—slicing through the ardent voices of the Jewish leaders in Acts—seemed to clear the mob in her head: “We must obey God rather than men.” Of course, this still means starting our days with the acknowledgment of the “continuing debt of love” we owe to people. But it’s also a form of faith, laying our heads on the pillow with the peace that God will supply all we need to accomplish all He requires.
John Piper has said (my paraphrase) that kids want to do what they see their parents happy doing. They’re not particularly inspired by our obligations, our duties. It’s the why they understand: what drives us. What is the happiness, the treasure, that’s writing our life lists, that’s commandeering our days?
I wonder if my kids will see me as contented, ready to embrace the ways God channels the course of my time. I hope eventually they’ll see me motivated more by love and faith than tasks–and that my tasks are motivated by both.
(Or maybe just me making short work of the calendar troll.)
Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.