(This is a real list of mine, when Lillian was about 3 months old!)
I am a to do list queen. When I worked in a corporate job, my to do list looked rather lofty:
-Schedule quarterly review
-Maintenance on med equip
Now, here is my to do list:
-Try to work out
-Clean up kitchen
-Read books to Lillian
-Target for wipes
I still make to do lists! It is hilarious sometimes looking back on my stay at home mom lists. When I was a new mom, I even put down “change Lillian’s diaper” and “feed Lillian”. Ha!
Wonder where I am going? Well, I usually have one more item on my to do list. It is “God”. Meaning, spend time with God, somehow. You know what item almost always gets incomplete. That one.
I read this the other day from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young (which is a book I have adored for years now, given to me by a sweet friend).
Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life: lots of little chores to do sometime, in no particular order. If you focus too much on these petty tasks, trying to get them all out of the way, you will discover they are endless. They can eat up as much time as you devote the them.
Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind, so I can be in the forefront of your awareness. Remember that your ultimate goal is in living close to Me, being responsive to my initiatives. I can communicate with you most readily when your mind is uncluttered and turned toward Me. See My face continually throughout this day. Let My Presence bring order to your thoughts, infusing peace into your entire being.
Wham! That little reminder from Sarah hit me like a ton of bricks. I will NEVER get to God if I make him a chore, because life chokes me with too many chores to ever finish on a daily basis. I was making God an item on my to do list. How sad was my belief system. She summed it up perfectly: petty tasks can eat up as much time as you devote to them. I could spend all my days trying to keep my house clean, raise Lillian right, attending to old thank you notes that were never written, and organizing weeknight meals.
The thing I was reminded of is in this culture of perfection and organization we live in (think about it- Pinterest perfect meals, Real Simple magazine, etc.), we idolize having complete control in our lives- things like every drawer in our home being perfectly organized to having the most beautiful set up for hosting parties.
Living in relation to God is inconvenient. At any time Jesus was stopped on the way to somewhere important with another pressing need. Following God means knowing that our to do lists might be interrupted at any moment- by something even more important. The tough part is typically it is interrupted by something intangible, spiritual, and not something we can even write down on our to do list to cross off!
I realized that God must not be a chore, but a foundation. Something that is embedded into my life daily. Think of it this way- if you want to be healthy for a long time do you do a bunch of fad diets, or do you actually change your lifestyle to eat healthy and exercise daily? Of course you change your lifestyle!
Living daily for Jesus and spending time with him the way I think He wants this week has meant a total re-organization of my priorities. Instead of waking up to my to do list- worrying endlessly about getting my house clean or my work out in… I have been waking up to coffee and my bible. Instead of throwing TV on in the background I am listening to music that moves my soul. Currently, my sink is filled with dishes, but I have found so much more peace in my mornings, and truth that reminds my stubborn hearts of the great gift of grace I have been given. Simply put, I feel grateful and joyful more than worried or stressed. It also helps me think of Him throughout the day, and helps remember that wisdom Paul spoke to us of.. “praying endlessly”.
How crazy that over 10 years into my walk in faith I am just letting this simple idea sink in. But it’s true, isn’t it, that the simplest parts of our faith are the hardest to get right. Love, grace, truth, honesty, contentment.
The truth is, while chores are endless, once I start praying for my life and the ones I love, I realize that prayer is even more endless. The things that matter the most are ignored by petty tasks. As I slowly open up my heart to God, I find my heart is so cluttered. I want more help from Jesus to fix my heart, and find myself wanting to spend more time with Him as he helps me with my messiness in my heart. It is a beautiful, crazy, cycle!
Time with God gives us freedom from the oppressing ways our culture lives- it allows us to respond to our lives with grateful hearts and to difficult times with hope. I pray that I never get back into my old habit of making time with God a chore. Jesus is my greatest hope and gift, my greatest encourager to love my family well, and my foundation of assurance. What chore is as important as that?