Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pretty little checkmarks, all in a row



Sometimes it feels like God gives me too much freedom. When I am feeling the pull of ten different things, unable to give myself fully to any one, and feeling like every priority is getting too little of my attention, well, I would really just like a list. Not just general guidelines, not only ten commandments, but a detailed list. I want something like this:

Emily's to-dos today

Thou shalt remove thyself from bed when the first child calls. Feed, dress the children, and line them up neatly in front of educational television.

Thou shalt spend ten minutes with God and coffee.


Thou shalt work in kitchen for 1 1/2hrs, in three 1/2hr intervals, and no more.

Thou shalt use ten of the minutes I have given thee to catch up with current events

Tho shalt endure 18 knock-knock jokes, but thou canst redirect the child that bringeth the 19th

Thou shalt change each of the 17 diapers that are presented to you this day.

Thou shalt entertain children for 4 hours, educational activites consuming the better half.

Thou shalt exercise thyself and children for one hour.

Thou shalt spend no more than two hours on other housework, laundering thy towels and ordering the disorder visited upon thee by thy children.

Thou shalt snuggle thy children for 10 minutes, three times, afterwhich thee may excuse thyself to do your other jobs.

Thou shalt converse with thine husband for at least 60 minutes.

Thou shalt spend 20 minutes talking about God to children, reading this specific Scripture passage, praying, and bearing the nonsensical questions that are presented you in this time frame. After those minutes have passed, thou shalt send them off to bed.

If thou has completed the above tasks and are still without sin, thou may indulgest thyself in telephone or computer-facilitated socializing. Then, get thyself to bed by ten.

I am sure the list would be long and tiresome, but at least it would be clear! If I had a nice checklist like this, at least THEN I could look at all the things still undone at the end of the day and shrug, "oh well! God didn't tell me to do it so it is not my problem!" And I could go before Him with all those nice little checkmarks in a row and say, "Here's my report, Lord! I got it all done! Now give me some good sleep tonight please, and I'll see you tomorrow!"

But there is NO LIST! No black and white job description for me, and as far as I can tell, you don't get one either.

What does that leave me with? God's Word, and the Holy Spirit, and a bunch of demands, and a sinful heart that gets in the way when I try to sort all of this out. There is generous amount of freedom, and a great deal of gray.

And at the end of the day, there are things left undone, and the things that were done were done by me, a sinner, and I see even my best is tainted.

No checkmarks, no gold star. Just me. I come to God at the end of the day with the things I have done, and in His light I see there is not much to be boasting about. "Um, here you go Lord. It's a pencil holder... I think. Or maybe a coffee cup? I guess it's not at all finished, and I'm not sure what it is going to be...and I messed up in a few places. So there you have it... it is what it is... and I'm tired Lord."

Me, commiting the demands of the day, my efforts and my failures, to Him.

No pretty checklist to make me feel good about myself.

Just a lopsided sculpture that may or may not be a pencil holder.


My head does not rest at night comforted by what I have done. And yet by God's grace, what I have done and what I have left undone is taken from me by Jesus.

I am not sure what He does with all the gray; I cannot picture exactly what it is He is making.

I do know that He takes the black, the ugly sin, and hides it in His own wounds.

And then, He takes whatever remains of my lopsided creation, and He uses it for my good and the good of His people.

Then finally, He looks on me with pity, and gives me something concrete that I am to do with myself:

"Daughter, go, sleep in peace."


But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.


Philippians 3:7-9

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