On to the Next Thing

I admire people who seem to be able to get things done without a “to-do” list.  I am not one of those.  In fact, I often have separate lists for the major items on my master “to-do” list.  Not only do my lists keep me organized and on track, but there is a great sense of accomplishment at being able to check things off.  Sometimes I will add completed items to my list just to increase my sense of productivity.

As much as I love my lists, there is a down side.  It happens as life occurs and disrupts my schedule.  The notable thing is that several years ago, I gave my lists to the Lord with the goal of making Him supreme over my day and my time.  He made it clear that He would give me grace to continue with my lists, but I needed to understand He reserved the right to add, subtract, or completely change my schedule.  That has been much harder to deal with than I imagined, evidenced by the stress I feel when something I deemed important has missed the deadline.

I marvel at the apostles of the early church whose daily agenda belonged to the Lord alone.  Peter received a vision and a word from the Lord that informed him he was to leave his house in Joppa and take a one day-plus journey to Caesarea to the home of a man he didn’t know.  God gave him no more details, yet Peter dropped everything and did it.  Phillip had a somewhat different experience.  An angel appeared to him with very specific, but limited, instructions: “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  (Acts 8:26) Phillip received nothing else until the Lord directed him to approach an Ethiopian eunuch traveling via chariot, trying to read the book of Isaiah.  That encounter led to the salvation of the eunuch, just as Peter’s visitation to the home of Cornelius led to the salvation and filling of the Holy Spirit for all friends and family who had packed themselves inside Cornelius’ house. Neither of these apostles was upset when God suddenly changed their schedules.

Rationally, it is easy to make the case that life today carries too many demands in multiple venues to be that fluid with major schedule changes, especially when it involves people.  The whole idea behind the list is accomplishing one thing in order to continue to the next thing.  However, God demonstrated that getting to the next thing in a timely manner was not a problem.  After Phillip had baptized the eunuch – while they were still in the water – God supernaturally whisked Phillip away, and immediately deposited him 50-70 miles north.

The first important question is, are we willing to give God our calendars and daily schedules? If so, then why is it so difficult to believe He is also able to accomplish every important thing on the His list?  Warning: Negative emotional reactions to delays and deletions are evidence that we are covertly in charge and have done a drive-by of the Lord for blessing.  Fundamentally, we forget we work for God, not God working for us.  So, it boils down to who’s in charge and control.  Therefore, the next question is, are we guaranteeing the satisfaction of moving from thing, to thing, by keeping the list within our personal control?  The problem with that is we have probably traded checkmarks for the next thing on God’s list.