With all our lives include – ministry, family, and life – the amount of my to-dos can seem massive, and at best overwhelming on most days. I’m guessing your life may look similar?
I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know. What I do have is a bit of grace to extend to you, a reminder and an encouragement as you tackle everyday tasks and to-dos, perhaps a way to take the practical and mix it with God’s grace. And for me, it’s a super simple list.
Oh, how I love a list. I jot things down all day long. Somehow if an item is at least written down on my list, I feel like a part of my brain can relax. It still needs to be done, it just won’t be forgotten. If I need to be out the door with five kids on time there’s always a variation of this kind of mental list: extra diaper, turn off coffee maker, remember your phone, grab a granola bar, switch laundry, don’t forget the baby (just kidding). It’s almost like a song repeating in my head until it is complete.
I must confess I’ve been known to spend more time consolidating and studying my list instead of actually doing what’s there. I figured out what works for me and this list keeps the craziness of everything tempered, balanced, and contained. It’s nothing fancy, just a spiral notebook along with my scratchy handwriting. Some items are easy ones, most are mundane, and all are necessary. I’ve read all about systems that involve quadrants, color-coding, digital apps and/or inspiring planners. I’m sure they are highly effective for some, but for me, paper and pencil wins.
There is one simple power-part I’ve started to include on all my lists. It is the practice of declaring the name of Jesus at the top of every list. I may imagine his name, actually write it, or take a highlighter and sketch it wildly all across the page, almost like a desperate prayer for him to hold me together and keep me sane as I try to accomplish more than I think I can do.
Just the writing of his name all across my list brings peace, a perspective change and some kind of spiritual sigh of relief. Yes, the things “to do” are necessary, but seeing them through the name of our Savior offers peace as I go about my day. The name of Jesus reminds me that everything is really kingdom work – family, the raising of children, the caring for home, and the commitments to our church – and all things for which to be thankful.
Apart from Him being the Lord of my details, this list can be flipped to be my master. It can be a driver that leaves me feeling unaccomplished, defeated and unsuccessful at the end of the day. But when His name is over it all, I feel His grace, I’m tangibly reminded of His Lordship, and I’m free to relax knowing my days are under his care. It is a reminder of 2 Corinthians 12:9 – His Grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. Most certainly, I can look at these lists and feel WEAK, but His grace is what I need and it reminds me that He understands my finite nature. Superwoman, I am not.
The peace that comes through inviting Him to lead along, simply by listing his name, is comfort to me. It’s my way of having Heaven touch my earth.
In all we have to do, seeking Him first, even in the penciling of his name, I’ve found to be my key for success and for peace. And that’s something I plan on keeping at the top of my list.