Wednesday, October 27, 2004

To-Do Lists

I live by my to-do lists. Part of it is for a practical reason—I have a faulty short-term memory. I could probably recite lines verbatim from my first high school play, but I’d have a hard time remembering who I needed to call today if I didn’t write it down.

But another reason I love my to-do lists is the satisfaction of scratching out each job as it is completed. I find an immense amount of satisfaction in taking a black pen and marking through my latest accomplishment, each line a badge of honor. The greatest feeling is wadding up my list and tossing it in the trash can when I’ve completed every task on the list. Euphoria!

Today was one of those days when I had a healthy to-do list awaiting me at the office, but I ended up spening all morning putting out fires and tackling surprise assignments. By the time lunch rolled around, I had not done any of the work I had planned to do this morning. The afternoon wasn’t much better, no items scratched off my list.

Ever have days like that, days where you feel like you got nothing of significance accomplished? The older and somewhat wiser I get, the more I realize that while I’m making plans for my day, God is often cooking up something different for me.

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Tonight as I was driving home from church, the low fuel light came on in my car. I’d noticed the gas tank was low but had put off refilling my tank until tomorrow. When the light came on I figured I’d rather not push my luck, so I pulled into the nearest gas station. I was tired, I wanted to go home, but I knew I should stop and thought it would only take a minute. I'd pump, pay, and be on my way. What a tidy little assignment! Or so I thought.

After I paid for my gas and exited the mini-mart, I ran into an acquaintance who happened to work at the gas station. I asked how she was doing, expecting the standard “Fine, how are you?”, the usual 10-second niceties most people exchange. This was not what God had in mind. This girl opened up about her long work hours, financial problems, marital problems, family problems, you name it.

After a few minutes of her pouring out her heart and my feeble attempts at comforting her and promising to pray for her, she went back to work and I got into my car and headed home. I immediately began praying for her and her family, and said a prayer of thanksgiving for God using me in that situation. Nearly running out of gas, at this hour, in this place, seemed like a minor inconvenience at first. After the conversation with this girl, there is no doubt in my mind that God orchestrated this meeting between us tonight.

Maybe the significant accomplishment I was meant to tackle today was not creating layouts at my computer at 10 a.m., but ministering to a troubled girl in a gas station parking lot at 8:40 p.m. Whether or not I meet my publication deadlines this week will not really matter in the long run. What truly matters is my yielding to God's plans for me and following His own to-do list for my life, to see interruptions in my day not as intrusions or distractions, but rather as opportunities to live by His agenda.

1 comment:

Rhonda said...

Lisa, this is a good reminder to look/listen for God in our daily life. I admire how you look for God! Thanks for sharing!

But this thing I did command them: Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God and you will be My people; and walk in the whole way that I command you, that it may be well with you. Jeremiah 7:23