September 26, 2011

The Greatest Commandment, the Second like it, and Your To-Do List

I love, love, love writing lists!  There are usually three or four - in my horrid handwriting - strewn across the kitchen table, several hanging on the cork board on the wall, a few actually typed into computer documents - like ideas for Christmas or birthday gifts I don't want to forget when the time comes.


I love 'em!

A list can be a blessing or and a curse.  They are a blessing, helping me not to forget important things that need to be done or tended to.  They are a curse, reminding me of all I'm not accomplishing ...  sometimes turning me into a get-it-done beast, focused only on her own agenda and plan.

This coming weekend I have the privilege of being with a group of women from my friend's church in the DC area, who have invited me to come share the talks that I gave last Spring at the Women's Retreat in Boston.  The topic is service, specifically looking at the Servant Jesus as our Savior, Example, and the One who Empowers and Equips us to service.  In said talks, I define service using the two greatest commandments from Matthew 22:

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This got me thinking the other morning about my attitude toward my to-do list.  Really, a list is a wonderful thing, aiding focus, helping us to remember, and Oh! the satisfaction of crossing something off the list ... ah, the sense of accomplishment!!!  (mental image:  Heather twirling in delight, clutching her completed list to her heart.)

But I digress.  Sorry about that.  Let me pull myself together here...  Okay, ready.

What occurred to me was something like this.  What if each task on my list began with this phrase:  Love God and love my neighbor as I ... ?  So the list is transformed from:
  • meals and grocery list
  • grocery shopping
  • organize materials for science projects
  • prepare dinner for community group
  • iron
  • call Gram

to something more like this:
  • love God and love my neighbor in writing my weekly meals and grocery list
  • love God and love my neighbor while grocery shopping
  • love God and love my neighbor while organizing the science stuff
  • love God and love my neighbor while preparing dinner for community group
  • love God and love my neighbor while ironing
  • love God and love my neighbor when calling Gram

Puts a whole new spin on it, doesn't it?  Suddenly those talks are taken from the temporal to the eternal.  No longer is the purpose simply checking the item off the list, rather it's infusing the tasks with greater importance and weight that we've ever given them.

SooooOOOOoooo, how long is your list?

How many opportunities does God give us each day to love Him with all our heart, soul, and minds, and love our neighbor as we do ourselves in the midst of them?

For example, if my goal is not simply to cross "school" off the list each day, but rather to honor God and my children through it, then I can be patient with Elizabeth's questions, take the time to come up with activities to do with Brian while Elizabeth is working independently, not fret when we have to change the schedule because something took longer than expected, and take interruptions in stride.  I am prompted to think more about the tone I use, the effort I put in, the fruit of the Spirit God wants to grow in my heart.

Take a look at your list(s), and may God use even those tasks to work out His purposes in your heart and mind as you seek to love Him with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself this week, and next week, and the week after that, and ... .

Have a great week!

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