Making a New List
Somehow amidst the busyness of planning a wedding, working at a church, living with my family, and trying to keep up with friends, my relationships have turned into a series of transactions. I believe that if I exceed my job description, send an encouraging note, and pray for my fiancé, then my boss will praise my event planning, my girlfriend will answer when I call, and I’ll avoid those unpleasant disagreements.
I take the same approach with God. I read my Bible, pray about decisions, and confess my sins now and then. So in return I expect God to answer my prayers and help me check off my to-do list. But I’m learning God wants more than my lists.
In Exodus 33 Moses faced the ultimate priority test. After the people bowed before the golden calf (Ex. 32), God promised to send an angel before Israel as they conquered the Promise Land. But he would not go any further with them (Ex. 33:2-3). God’s declaration probed the leader’s soul. Did Moses desire the Promise Land more than God’s presence?
Fortunately Moses refused the offer. He begged God not to send them onward without his presence (Ex. 33:12-16). Then Moses made his ultimate request—to see God’s glory. And as the Lord’s goodness passed before him, Moses bowed with his face to the ground.
Moses’ request prompts me to check my own motives. Most days I want answers more than God’s presence. But God doesn’t just want a transaction. He desires to know us and reveal himself to us. And as we gaze at his goodness, our priorities refocus. Suddenly my to-do list isn’t so important when compared with glory and goodness.
In Bittersweet Shauna Niequist says, “It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” I realized I’ve been scribbling the wrong list—to-do’s that rule my soul. And as a result my relationship with God and others is reduced to transactions that accomplish my list.
So at Shauna’s prompting, I decided to start a new list. This one isn’t about to-do’s and transactions but about people and priorities.
Make space to hear my Lord instead of checking off spiritual boxes. I will seek his presence and Spirit’s leading throughout my day.
Make time for a few. I will strive to serve and love those closest to me instead of viewing them as an appointment.
Be everyone’s best friend. I’ll stop saying “yes” to activities just so others will like me or to avoid loneliness.
Fill every space on my calendar. I won’t compare my busyness with another’s and accept the capacity God has given me.
I found Shauna’s exercise painful and liberating. My to-do list still exists, but its vice-grip is loosening. I hope you’ll discover the same. Life by this list is much richer. So tell me, what’s on your new list?