The List Maker

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For most of my life, I have scribbled to-do lists on any and all available paper. In my teen years, I favored note pads from the Crosbyton Review with our high school mascot: the mighty, albeit seldom-victorious Chieftain. As a struggling young mother of two, I wrote on the back of my Mama’s letters or the margin of the church’s single-sheet bulletin. In time, I progressed to buying scratch pads at various souvenir shops, favoring the ones with captions like “Life is short, drink coffee” or “If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen.” 

But no matter where I jot my list, one thing has remained the same. All my to-dos have little empty boxes beside each pending task. I love the feeling of marking it “done.” Every time I slash an oversized “x” in a blank square, I feel a sense of accomplishment. In fact, I sometimes write down something finished to check it off the list immediately.  

Unfortunately, these annoying “finisher tactics” show up in my spiritual life. In difficulty, I want to find God’s will, have Him fix it, and move on. I like to check spiritual problems off my list. 

But God seems more interested in this process than the project. 

Since His works are already finished, His priority isn’t finalizing tasks (Genesis 2:2; John 19:30). When I think about it, everything I can achieve is because He has given me breath, energy, and wisdom anyway (Psalm 138:8). He doesn’t need me to complete assignments. He can do that with a Word.

Pastor Blake Healy recognizes this. “(It’s) not just about getting a direct answer or solution to a problem. It is about engaging with a problem from the place of connection with God.” God is more concerned with walking alongside us in the journey rather than how quickly we move

What would it be like, if I made my list to say: 

  • Speak to God today
  • Wait quietly in His Presence
  • Connect with Him Spirit to spirit

Wouldn’t this be more pleasing to Him than:

  • Read a few verses
  • Pray a quick prayer
  • Start writing a daily to-do list

Even this simple shift will necessitate mindfulness. Journeying well rather than accomplishing quickly won’t be an easy lifestyle adjustment. I’m set in my ways and will need His encouragement to make new thought habits. My prayer then is that I will prioritize facing today’s difficulties alongside Him rather than trying to get escape from them. Herein will lie my best strategy for surviving the days to come. I pray it can be yours as well.