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Revising the To Do List
by Denette Jenkins Fretz
05/04/11
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Whether mental or written, I always have a To Do List for the day. Regrettably, the success of any given day is measured by what I accomplished. To Do List completed? It was a good day. Oodles left undone? The inner voice of Perfection enumerates precisely where I failed and suggests schedule modifications for the following day. Lately, Perfection's been preaching.

My husband's rotator cuff surgery has slashed our children's taxiing fleet in half and shredded my To Do Lists. The six week loss of Terry's dominant arm and his ability to legally drive has me logging additional hours as caregiver and chauffer. (No sardonic comments about backseat drivers will be inserted in this space.) I am enjoying our extra time together and do not mind being supplementary hands for slicing chicken, buttoning shirts, or tying bows. Yet at the end of the day, Perfection's expectations make no allowance for added responsibilities or people inhibiting production.

Most women are accustomed to putting their family's needs before their own. Under Section II of both wife and mother job descriptions, "Tolerates frequent task interruptions" is highlighted. We stop what we are doing to tutor algebra, counsel social dilemmas, or move the family van from its station beneath the basketball hoop. (Acknowledgments to Jesse for supplying the final example as I attempted to complete previous sentence. Sigh.) Even most of the objectives on our To Do Lists--such as cleaning the house, grocery shopping, or working to provide financial support--aren't singular ambitions. They're set for the well-being of our families. Helping others is rooted in woman's genesis--God's "I can't find a suitable helper for Adam, so I'll design one." So why do I still get frustrated by unfinished things, when I know unfinished people are my created purpose?

Jesus' primary To Do List could have read like this: Do my Father's will. Love people. Teach people. Heal people. Die for people. The disciples didn't think little children belonged on his list, but Jesus scolded them and called for the kids. After his cousin John the Baptist was murdered, Jesus' To Do List included finding a quiet place and resting. Jesus and the disciples had been so busy helping people, that even the essential task of eating could not be checked off their To Do Lists. However, when they got to their relaxation destination, an anxious crowd of "sheep without a shepherd" was already waiting. Compassion consumed, Jesus delayed his individual hopes in order to heal the sick, teach "many things," and feed 5,000 hungry men, plus women and children.

Goals provide purpose and focus. God's Word sets spiritual goals such as loving God with your whole being, loving your neighbor as yourself, going into all the world to preach the gospel, or doing everything you do the name of the Lord Jesus. The problem isn't goal setting. The problem is defining success based on personal or cultural values, instead of the Lord's requirements:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

God's To Do List could be simplified to six words. Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.

How idiotic would I sound if I rationalized my misplaced priorities with words? "Uhh...Lord, I didn't do justly by my injured husband...but I'm caught up on laundry." Or how about, "I didn't offer my child mercy...but I completed a great post on kindness." Wee bit feeble.

Last night, while Perfection was pointing out clutter and listing unmet writing objectives, I went through my revised To Do List. Did I...

Do justly?

Love mercy?

Walk humbly with my God?

It was a good day.

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Scriptural References: Genesis 2:18-22 (paraphrased),Mark 10:13-16,Matthew 14:9-21, Mark 6:26-44, Matthew 22:37-39,Mark 16:15, Colossians 3:17


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