Today I am taking the afternoon off. Generally my Sundays consist of morning worship at my church, followed by lunch and either running errands or tackling some last minute projects at home before my work week begins. My daughter is home from college for her spring break so we don't need to drive her back to campus this evening. As usual I have a TO DO list, but this afternoon's only project is to decide on my devotion for tomorrow's staff meeting.
I'm currently spending some time at one of my favorite places ... the community library. As I'm sitting here perusing possible devotions and scanning some previous posts from my own blog the following post jumped out at me. It's ironic when it's your own words and ideas that help you regain perspective. I suppose it might be worth sharing again.
What's on Your 'To Do' List?
September 22, 2010
This week it was my turn in the rotation to give the devotion at our weekly staff meeting. So of course, I added ‘prepping my devotion’ to last week’s ‘TO DO’ list. Being the organized person that I am, I wanted to be sure to give myself enough time to read through a variety of devotions to see which one jumped out at me and seemed to be the perfect fit. I went to the church library and scanned the shelves a few times … such a variety to pick from. I finally decided to check out the book ‘Desktop Devotions for Working Women’ by Elsa Houtz. Each short chapter was a devotion that began with a scripture verse, a suggested list of a few items to ‘slow down & look at’, a worthy story, and ended with a prayer of how I might apply the lesson to my life. I don’t usually have a lot time to just sit down and read for pleasure because my self-imposed ‘TO DO’ list is so long. Apparently I have this problem that as long as I have something left on my list I have a difficult time allowing myself some free time. But because prepping my devotion was on my list, I read through most of the book over the weekend. How ironic … chapter 5 was titled ‘What’s a Woman to Do?’
It began with Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Are you a list maker like me? After many, many years of working in offices I have learned that keeping a to-do list, both at work and at home, help me meet my deadlines and not forget things that I need to do. Sure, there are those usual things that I write on calendars (the one that I neatly hung on the side of my refrigerator) … things like birthdays, anniversaries, dentist appointments, vacation days, school concerts, etc. Then there are the grocery and errand lists that I can grab in a hurry so I can take care of them on my way home from work. There are my to-do lists at work (that’s right, I usually have more than one going at a time). I usually even go so far as to give myself a weekend to-do list. Fortunately I cut myself some slack and give myself ‘2’ whole days to get through that one.
We all have so much to do these days that I find it very easy to identify with the biblical Martha who, the bible tells us, became pretty stressed out about the fact that Jesus was coming to her house. I can only imagine that she had a to-do list a mile long. The Bible tells us she was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40). In fact, she felt so pressured by all of her household tasks that she actually asked Jesus to intercede when she saw that her sister Mary wasn’t helping at all. Mary was just sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Jesus explained to Martha that Mary was doing exactly what she needed to do.
It can be easy to mistake busyness for godliness. We can feel that if we are wearing ourselves out trying to do many things for our friends and family because we love them, then we must be doing God’s will. We can feel that if we’re constantly working extra hours at work, showing how committed we are, we must be doing God’s will. It’s easy to convince ourselves that if we always say ‘yes’ to everyone when they ask, again we must be doing God’s will. But are we? I’m not so sure. Maybe we all have a little bit of Martha in us. Maybe we push Mary out of the way when she tries to slow us down. What do you think?
As long as I have my to-do lists I know I can’t just stop doing things. I have commitments and responsibilities - I’ll even go so far as to admit that I’m probably the one who put a lot of them in place. But if you are even a little like me, you may need to find a way to slow down and look at your to-do list. How much of it really needs to get done? Perhaps the one we should be pleasing is God. His to-do list is much simpler and not nearly as long.
Matthew 22: 37, 39
* Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
* Love your neighbor as yourself.
The Bible is full of inspirational and challenging to-do lists that could help us with our priorities … Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Psalm 15, and Romans 12:9-21.
Without adding it to a list, let’s try reading through some of God’s lists. Perhaps it will help us to gain some perspective about our priorities … about what is really important vs. what we let everyone tell us. I’m willing to give it a try. I know I could definitely do without as many distractions.