Eva Burkholder

Unfinished Tasks

Today my guest blogger is Eva Burkholder. She writes about the weight of unfinished tasks. Eva (MACE, Columbia International University) is a missionary kid, wife, mother of two sons and a daughter-in-law, former cross-cultural worker, and missionary member care provider. Eva and her husband of thirty-one years live in Richardson, Texas. She blogs regularly at www.evaburkholder.com. Look for Eva's devotional on the life of Mary, available later this year.

I like to cross things off my to-do list. I use tear-off notepads and make lists and lists of what needs to get done today and in the coming days. My lists include unwanted tasks as well as life-giving ones. Then I set to work to accomplish them and cross them off. Done. Finished. Wrapped up. Nice and neat. List tossed in the trash. While some of my friends enjoy the process, I find more delight in the completion. Only then can I rest.

Problem is, so much is incomplete right now. Rarely do I ever get to the end of the list. On most days, a few items get carried over to my new list when the old paper is full and needs to be thrown away. Because stuff is never totally done, I live limbo. Waiting for the email answer, for the conference to be over, for the casserole to bake, for the check out line, for….for…for…And so I don’t rest.

I’m not totally a hopeless case. I have learned a lot in the past few years about living presently, appreciating the here and now, noticing what is around me and enjoying the moment. I even have a plaque on my shelf with a quote attributed to Fanny Crosby: "Live in the moment and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering."

So as I try to unearth the unrest in my soul today, I realize that I am believing the myth that I cannot live contentedly while juggling so many balls or waiting to finish a task. 

I turn to my study of Abraham and Sarah. Hebrews 11:13 says, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.."

Talk about an unfinished task that never got crossed of their list! So how do I reframe this unsettledness? I keep reading in Hebrews.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up." (Hebrews 12:1-3 NET)

Sometimes, God’s message to me is soul care and Sabbath rest. But today it is perseverance, endurance and running my race. Focus on Jesus, not the lists. Think on his sacrifice and endurance to help me not grow weary and give up. Remember that true rest is found in Jesus and not my completed list.

What is causing your heart to feel unsettled today?

What unfinished task are you waiting on?

How does Jesus’ example of endurance encourage you today?


Jesus, my Savior, thank you that you endured with joy so that I can know true rest in you. I don’t need to strive to accomplish my tasks to gain approval from you or contentment for my soul. You have already given that to me. Teach me to endure in the daily mundane, but also to look with faith toward you. 

Beth Barron and her husband have worked cross-culturally for decades, first in the Middle East and now in the U.S. She teaches English to refugees and uses her writing skills to advocate for them. Beth enjoys writing, biking, vegetable gardening and connecting heart to heart with other women. She is involved in her church's External Focus ministry. She and her husband have three adult children, two daughters-in-love and three grandsons. Beth graduated from Rice University in Houston, attended Dallas Theological Seminary and is committed to life-long learning.