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Faith Focus: The problem with to-do lists

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward each according to what he has done.’” –Matthew 16:24-27

I hate to admit this but I often (usually) feel like I’m in a constant state of panic. There are literally not enough hours in the day to accomplish all I set out to do in a day. I have to-do lists on top of calendars on top of to-do lists on top of calendars. And it still doesn’t feel like enough control over my life.

I recently read that millennials report being more stressed than previous generations and as a millennial, I can say ‘amen’ to that. Even my quiet time in the morning has become just another check box in the routine: make coffee, read Bible, pray, check calendar, drink coffee, get ready for work … the list goes on.

So why all the lists, calendars and stress? Because control has become my idol. I do genuinely want to hear from God. I ask him often for clarity, wisdom and direction. Problem is, I don’t usually wait around for an answer.

But if I don’t have time, God is the first thing scratched off my list.

Satan has convinced me that being productive is next to godliness and to sit still reduces my worth. It feels crazy to write that, but it’s true. He’s got a hold on me and my tendency to plan. He wants me so distracted I can’t hear from God but I always hear the ding of my iPhone during dinner.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus routinely rose early to have quiet time with the God of the universe. It’s easy to gloss over that and think Jesus wasn’t as busy as we are. Falling asleep while mumbling prayers has become my equivalent to time spent with God. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to check it off my list in the morning.

The worst part about all of this, aside from my constant state of stress, is that I’m cheating myself out of life’s greatest earthly blessing – a deep, personal, life-giving relationship with my heavenly father. The verse above rings so true: I’m trying to save my life with lists and control but in the process, I’m losing my life.

I don’t want to face God one day and regretfully hand him a finished to-do list when he asks for an account of my life. I want a life of joy to bring him glory and the only way to do that is to permanently put God at the top of my list – and not ever cross him off.

Chelsea Quackenbush White is the electronic media editor at Buckner International.

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