God’s To-Do List

Restor­ing my pri­or­i­ties

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Phillip Martin

I’ve al­ways been an ac­com­plish­ment-oriented per­son. I prided my­self in know­ing what to do, hav­ing my to-do list all pri­or­i­tized, with the most im­por­tant tasks high­lighted, cir­cled, or writ­ten in large print. I'd zip around town, stop­ping here and there, knock­ing off the “mi­nors” while on my way to ac­com­plish an­other “ma­jor.”

Some years back, I even de­signed my own Daily Plan­ner Card—a small card printed on card stock that fits in my shirt pocket. I carry it with me and start a new one ev­ery day. In the past few years I've used these cards as part of a time-man­age­ment sem­i­nar I've taught.

I used to spend much of my quiet time with God with pen­cil and daily plan­ner in hand, writ­ing down the mul­ti­tude of things I needed to do. I usu­ally came out of my “quiet time” with my pri­or­i­tized plan of ac­tion, champ­ing anx­iously at the bit, ready to tackle the day. Get­ting my plan for the day con­sti­tuted a big part of my per­sonal time with God.

But some time back, some­thing short-cir­cuited my en­tire modus operandi. I found my­self in a pro­longed si­t­u­a­tion where it wasn't re­ally hu­manly pos­si­ble for me to ac­com­plish all that there was to do. My daily to-do lists were far too long with too many vari­ables; there were too many pri­or­i­ties and way too many other stresses. To top things off, I was phys­i­cally ex­hausted.

My si­t­u­a­tion was so over­whelm­ing, in fact, that I re­ally couldn't think about a to-do list. All I wanted was to be close to God. I knew that only He could sat­isfy my soul and still the rag­ing storm. It was at this point that I ex­pe­ri­enced what Jesus de­scribed in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who re­main in me, and I in them, will pro­duce much fruit. For apart from me you can do noth­ing.”

1 I re­al­ized for the first time that Jesus doesn't want my to-do list, nor does He even want me to let Him be the au­thor of my to-do list. He wants me to abide in Him, be­ing nour­ished by His Word.

I still have and make to-do lists, but not with the same in­ten­sity. It's no longer top pri­or­ity. Touch­ing Jesus is my top pri­or­ity. Of­ten that's when I hear the faintest of whis­pers to my soul, usu­ally about mat­ters that are im­por­tant to God. If my head and spirit are too crammed with my own thoughts, I might not hear those whis­pers and might miss some­thing that's a must-do on God's to-do list.

Phillip Martin (1949–2016) was an Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary in the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent and other coun­tries for 45 years.

1. John 15:5 NLT, em­pha­sis added

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