Clear or Do?
I have this document on my desk which is pithily labelled “My List.” Currently the list consists of twenty-five items to take care of (or people to see), many of which have “sub” items under them. Next to several of the items and “sub” items are little checkmarks, symbols of accomplishment, serving as notice that no longer are these items (or people) really on “My List.” Periodically “My List” is reviewed, checked items are eliminated, and items found on scraps of paper or in emails are added. This process tends to keep things fairly orderly. There is only one problem. “My List” never gets completed. It is never cleared. The number of items (or people) is rarely below twenty or more than forty … and I can’t stand that.
I want things to be cleared. I want a neat and tidy life. It’s my bent. Now, this is a fine mindset when it comes to dishes at a table, but not so much when it comes to people. People are really complicated. I don’t just mean that we are physically “fearfully and wonderfully made” kind of complicated, but that our souls really are deep wells. Our minds are always working, our hearts are being pushed and pulled in different directions, our bodies decay as strength gives way to gray hair and less than impressive physique. And all of these – soul, mind, body, strength – have suffered from and continue to suffer from the consequences of the fall. At the same time as Christians, we are growing in Christ, learning to be more like Him, receiving His blessings, knowing more fully His peace and presence and forgiveness. Mix all that together and you have anything but a neat and tidy list. I’m thinking of removing people from “My List” – it just seems strange to check someone off.
But maybe it’s in the approach to those items and people on “My List.” The other option besides the drive to “clear” is to approach “My List” as those things which the Lord has given me to “do” and to delight in the “do”ing of them rather than the clearing of them. Maybe the relationships we are in are there for God’s purposes, which are always good. Maybe the complicated, difficult, troublesome people the Lord has placed in your life are there for your growth, for their benefit, for the blessing of the Church, for the glory of God. Maybe we are not meant to live neat and tidy lives, but prayerful lives of loving God and neighbor. We are, after all, “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” A bit of a different approach than if He had prepared these good works “that we should clear them off our list.”