Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mastering the art of accomplishment

I was not going to blog tonight. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to blog tonight, very much, but the stained carpet in our "art room-back entrance-mud room-catch-all room" was too much to bear, and its utter grossness had created in me such a burst of energy that the carpet cleaner was cowering in the corner for fear of how hard I was going to make it work. As I tied up the other loose ends of my day, a rush of excitement was coursing through me, thinking of how nice I would be to wake up to a cleaner carpet that had already dried, and my mind wandered to the topic of accomplishment. I must admit, I have been struggling lately with the art of accomplishment. "Lately" being the past two weeks. Pretty much just as long as the kids have been home from school. And baseball season has been in full swing. And the countdown to VBS has been ticking. Pretty much ever since my plate went from normal to Big Mac, have I struggled to get a dern thing done. Like dishes, laundry, cooking, dusting, gardening, or sleeping. It just ain't happening. But, tonight was going to be the night! I was going to accomplish a task while the kids slept, and nothing could stop me, not even the blog topic plopped into my head moments before I turned on the cleaner! {sigh} Silly girl. If the Lord wants a blog post, He's gonna get it.

The carpet cleaner died 4 mintues into the job.

And so, with great hope in the Lord's faithfulness that one day soon I will indeed have a cleaner carpet in that room, and that my desire to proclaim even one job as "accomplished" will come to pass, I am now blogging. Let's talk about the art of accomplishment.

The story is told of a wife who invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and proudly said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied.
"Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered, wanting to impress their guests with the excellent job she was doing raising the girl. Obediently, the daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people?!”

I laughed when I read this joke because I could picture the Mom and her eagerness to impress her guests. I am certain she planned, shopped, cleaned, cooked, primped, and sweated over the evening. She probably had a grocery list, a cleaning list, a recipe list…you get the picture. And I can indentify because I am a habitual list-maker. (There you have it, the dork in me lives on!) I live by lists, and have as long as I can remember, having learned this skill from my Dad. His was always in his pocket. Mine is always on the counter, or taped to the cupboards, or both, depending on how many different lists I have going at the time. My personal favorite is the “To Do” list. I’ve always--always--got one of those going, and it usually starts with laundry. And I lovelove LOVE to finish something on that list and cross it off! I do it not only for organization and personal accoutability, but also just for a plain old selfish desire of a sense of accomplishment. Feeling like I am getting things done and not just spinning my wheels is what keeps me sane.

I know that most of us reading this are caught up in busy lives. We’re holding down jobs, raising families, doing church activities, worrying about loved ones, enjoying our social lives, etc, etc, and yadda yadda yadda. I am not typing tonight to tell you what is wrong about that. I’m as busy as they come, and I have not yet figured out how to make myself less busy, so in the meantime, I make lists. It’s a survival tool for me, really. But the Lord spoke to me the other day about lists when I was in the scriptures with Him, and I want to tell you about it.

If memory serves me, I was reading in both Colossians and Luke that morning. Lying in the Words of Jesus and Paul are and a “to do” list and a “what not to do” list. The first list I’ll mention is the “what not to do” list, and it would read something like this: do not return evil for evil, do not give with the expectation of return, do not be sexually immoral, do not be impure, do not lust, have no evil desires or greed, have no anger, no rage, no malice, no slander, no gossip, use no foul language, and do not lie. That’s a tough list, and it’s not even all-inclusive, this is just from two scriptures! Eeeck. I know I’ve broken quite a few items on that list in my lifetime, I think even this week, (ahem, today) as I am sure you all have. I had one ponderance regarding this list of the mistakes we all make..…on this “what not to do” list, when do we get to cross something off?? How does our list get shorter? Where is the sense of accomplishment??

Obviously, God’s rules of things He does not want us to do is NOT open for negotiation. We can’t pick and choose what applies to us. Greed is as bad today as it was when Jesus preached on it. Slander and gossip are just as dangerous. Lies and foul language are just as hurtful. Lust is sneakier than ever. These “no-no’s” are written in the Bible, and God will never take an item off the lists He has created. But what about our personal lists? What about the tally of our mistakes? What about the ones in our back pockets? How can those get crossed off? You know the answer! In the eternal perspective, Jesus has already done it. They are gone. If you have humbled yourself, and asked for forgiveness, He has crossed them off your list. Praise the Lord.

But in sweeps our humanness and we falter. We go back to the mistake(s) we make most readily. We put it back on our list. I would suspect that if each of us took some time to make a list, right from scripture, of those things God tells us not to do, and then study the lists, we’d see our behaviors written all over them. They would be as personal as my list that says “laundry” on the top. They would be ours. My challenge to you today, for your reflection, is to figure out how to make your personal “what not to do” list look a little cleaner, a little shorter. Figure out how to permanently cross something off. Drop an old bad habit, don’t keep doing it and repenting, just drop it. If you do so, in the words of Jesus Himself, “then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

That is some seriously good news to me.

Now that I am sounding all preachy, I'll switch to something a lighter. What the Lord has really laid on my heart, and what I most want to talk about, is the “to do” list. It’s long, it’s a tad exhausting, but it’s exciting. Let’s hear it now: love everyone, do good, bless others, pray for others, be generous, set your mind on Christ, wear compassion, be kind, be humble, be gentle, be patient, forgive others, be thankful, let the Word of Christ dwell in you, and let peace rule your hearts. (Again, not all-inclusive.)

Wow. OK, I can’t do all that. I quit. Or can I??

Sometimes the standards of our faith are heavy. They seem too ideal, too perfect, to rigid, too hard. They go against what everyone around us seems to be doing. The "rules" weigh us down, make us look different, challenge us. Perhaps we even feel like we are being set up to fail. But, what if, instead of me having dishes or laundry at the top of tomorrow’s "To Do" list, I had kindness. Or peace. What if I made that my first goal? What if the things I listed as the most important in my day were not the chores, but the gifts I could give to others? I am just one person. What if we all did that? What if the peace of Christ and the Word of Christ and the joy of Christ and the actions of Christ were dwelling in us first…and then we did our laundry, paid our bills, went to work, baked cookies for the kids, typed the minutes for the meeting, etc and etc. Would we look different?

None of us are perfect. Just like none of us can erase our mistakes, and we need a savior, so also none of us are perfect…and we can’t be good all the time. Christ knows that. Just like those weeks that the laundry does not all get folded at my house (OK, so maybe that is most weeks), sometimes I am not so patient or kind. Just ask my kids. I am not always a blessing to others. Sometimes I am weary of doing good.

There is hope. Woo-hoo! In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Anyone else out there need a little rest? I don’t think He is just talking about physical exhaustion. The next verse says “take my yoke and learn from Me”. Learn right from Christ. He tells us that He is gentle and humble, and we will find rest for our souls. Who has ever wanted a gentle and humble teacher? Who better to learn how to master the art of accomplishment from than a gentle and humble teacher?! Jesus finishes in verse 30 by saying, “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This to do list might look like a burden to me today, but Christ says it is light. He says it is easy. He promises peace and joy like none other if we obey.

And I’ve got more evidence. In Galatians 6:9 Paul says, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Did you hear that?! REAP A HARVEST. A harvest of what, you ask? Only God knows. Blessing, peace, joy, empowerment...reward......a harvest of Christ, that gentle and humble teacher, whose yoke is easy and burden is light!

I like the sound of that. And so what if my carpet cleaning project was not accomplished and crossed off the list tonight? I've got better lists to master. To Him be all the glory.

1 comment:

Neil or Debby said...

Great inspiration, Shelly! I got all caught up on your posts lastnight and now this one tonight! It feels like we are visiting when I read your posts. Thanks.