STRIKE ONE, STRIKE TWO, AND THREE AS WE move further down the “to do” list. Our fine-point permanent marker is worn. The only visible notation of the once named Sharpie is the faded letters pie appearing on the marker’s exterior. Whereas the ink, in times past, had been defining and boldly black, it now dispenses as a stubborn, charcoal-gray color with grave uncertainty. It takes multiple overlapping marks to make one effective strike. It’s frustrating, but we are determined to show that we have completed the list. And that means striking a heavy line through every task to prove its fulfillment. Are we reduced to checklists? Isn’t the consummation of our life much more than how many tasks we have completed? Most certainly, it is! For at the end of the day, we have indeed completed the entire list. Yet, we have a problem: we are exhausted! Day after day, we suffer perpetual fatigue and weariness. We run like a hamster on a wheel—constantly circling the inside of the cage. We can’t stop it. We can’t slow the pace. And we can’t take the nearest exit for a reprieve. So, we run!
God never intended for us to work to extremes for a short while and then burn out in exhaustion. The good work that He started in us, beginning with our regeneration, He will continue to perform until we appear before Him in glory (Phil. 1:6). What happens when we start to perform the work of ourselves. . . . and for ourselves?
When we do it in our own strength?
We are left SPENT!
Spent: worn-out, used up, depleted. Rather than being spent, God desires that we spend our time with Him—abiding in Him, adhering to His guidance, following His instructions, and completing our assignment pursuant to His will.
Jesus knew the toils life would have on us, even when we are doing the will of the Father. His advice: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). His requirements are easily rendered and are not burdensome to us. We can flow in the Spirit—manifesting fresh fruit when we allow His strength, power, and resiliency to infuse our every obligation.
If we’re exhausted—feeling as if we can’t keep up—we have taken over the task. With failing energies we attempt to master tasks that were never ours to master alone. Though not intentional, we have unwittingly sought to rob God of the glory He receives when our weakness is met with His strength (2 Cor. 12:9).
As one who is inclined to jot down an unplanned task on the “to do” list just to strike it off the list, I am learning to use the list as a simple guide to my day. I’m learning that my productivity is not directly correlated to how many tasks I accomplish on the list. Instead, I use another list.
Have I prayed? Read His Word today?
Have I allowed His Spirit to guide my decision making and the freedom to alter my plans?
Have I spent the day in communion with my Lord as I moved from task to task?
Have I loved today? Engaged in relationship today?
Those are just a few of the questions that I am learning to ask myself on a daily basis. The answers to those questions are a much better indicator of my success as a woman of God.
Don’t be disturbed by the unfinished tasks on your list. God knew that you had been overzealous in your planning. Use the questions above to avail yourself to His great plan for you. After all, His “to do” list comes with His marvelous power to get it all done. Our time is better spent on His agenda. And we won’t need a Sharpie for that.