I remember so vividly my first year of teaching. It took me about a week to figure out that my to-do list wouldn’t look like the one above until I retired…and then it would probably be full, again!
I’ve had days when I’ve done “nothing”. Weeks when I let the list “go”, but it’s never, ever been empty. And mostly I’ve been okay with that. I like staying busy. I like making lists and crossing things off.
That is….when I’m the one doing the crossing off. And when I’m the one making the list. And when I’m the one in control of the time frame.
I can stare an unwashed dish as long as the next person (or longer!), as long as it’s within my power to wash it when I feel like it. As long as it’s on my list.
And so that brings me to the to-do list I find myself not in control of…the unfinished business of God.
Why is it so hard to wait for someone else to get a job done? Why did I mentally roll my eyes today at the grocery store when my groceries were being bagged at a rate I knew I could beat? Why do I get so frustrated when my oil is being changed and I’m stuck in the waiting room along with half of the city? Or crawling traffic? Or emails slowly or never being answered?
Same reason you do.
Time matters. Getting things done matters. Moving quickly when the world is moving even faster matters.
This obsession with checking off our lists is why, when God slows it down, we look up and say, “But, you promised you’d take care of this! You promised!”
Frustration. Anger. Misunderstanding. Sorrow.
“Where is He?,” our voices and souls echo, as we stare around at the unfinished important business surrounding us. Business that we placed confidently in the hands of the One we knew we could trust. Our most precious business. Our prayers, hopes, our dreams, our plans…
And, yet…at times they lay unfinished around us, stacking up and gathering dust, as we look at the list, confident we could have finished it by now.
It seems there aren’t easy answers. And yet, the answer remains the same, “Trust me.”
Before one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, Hebrews 11, comes a little phrase, often quoted but rarely practiced:
“…the just shall live by faith…” –Hebrews 10:38a
I’ve waited for what seems an eternity for my health to be fully restored. He’s done so much for me, but I live in the unfinished business every day of my life. I hurt. I struggle. I try not to complain, but anything chronic is hard, because it’s everyDAY. There are no weekends from my waiting, my yearning to be healed completely, my frustration with my lack of control over my body.
I’ve tried so many things to fix it that it’s not even worth listing. The truth is I am not in control. I live in faith, knowing that if He is quiet again today that I will get up tomorrow and give it to Him again.
So much easier said than done. I also complain and cry and get mad.
And I remember that He is faithful that promised. And that my time is not His time. And that He is running this to-do list part of my life.
And that He can be trusted.
He hasn’t done it yet, but the unfinished business is okay with me. One day, He will.
I choose to live in the unfinished business in peace.
I choose to let this (and other things) stay on His list, not mine.
I choose Him.
It’s simple, really. Do I want it done more than I want Him?
No, I don’t.
I can deal with an unfinished to-do list, as long as I have Him.
We all can.