I am a list maker. Every day begins and ends with a list – with maybe a couple more lists drafted throughout the day. Making lists helps me feel organized and responsible. I make grocery lists, shopping lists, to do lists, bucket lists, workflow lists, honey do lists, ect. As you can tell, I am quite the ambitious list maker. However recently I noticed that my lists are a little bit unrealistic. I write down a bunch of tasks or ideas without taking into account my human limitations and inabilities. I’m setting myself up for failure, stress, and anxiety. In fact sometimes I feel anxious just from reviewing a list–before I even attempted to conquer it!
Last year I drafted a very detailed New Year’s Resolutions list. What an ambitious list it was! And while I am quite proud of the list, I must confess, I did not conquer it. (Although making the list was a good reminder that my life does indeed need resolving). It was simply too much. I assigned all these hopes, desires, and challenges to lil’ ol’ me.
While last year’s list stirred some desires it did not bring about growth or change. Praise the Lord I did grow closer to being in Him, but it was not through a list. And so, this New Year’s I did not make a list. Instead, of drafting a list of resolutions I am recognizing the ever important need to seek his revelations, moments in which I encounter him in spirit and in truth. Times when I understand who he is and who I am in him. Or what I am doing on my own and what he could be doing through me. I am looking forward to not only seeing growth areas but praise areas too! Times when I see my obedience to him in more ways that I realized and I take a moment and shout “Praise the Lord!” As it says in the bible, we need to have thanksgiving in all situations!
As I said, I like to write lists, but – and take it from an experienced list maker – there is only one type of list that has truly impacted and encouraged me, a prayer list. A prayer list is a list shared with God, where not only you know what is desired, but he does too. It’s a list that you let him organize and be responsible for! Of course it’s also important that you follow his lead. And here is a challenge: If your list is focused on material comforts or filled with bullet points that you are confident in (in such a way that you it would not lead you to him)…you may want to re-work it. Paul was greatly challenged yet Christ was the only source that could bring him contentment.
Finally, while the New Year is a great time to covet change it’s an even better season to find contentment. To be satisfied where you are at today, not just distraught at where you aren’t at or focused on where you want to be. As they say, contentment and godliness go hand-in-hand. Contentment: Our desire to see God’s character reproduce in us. And godliness: Our acceptance of God’s will in our lives.
Bottom line: I was mapping out everything on paper and struggling to remain free of anxiety in anything. Instead, I needed to give God more authority. It’s pretty unnerving to think that we are not our own solution. But take heart, our solution is Christ! All prayers and petitions (and lists!) need to be laid down at his feet. Then those lists will helps to be encouraged, not burdened. We should feel called to do whatever is on that list and fully confident that Christ will help us do it!
Humm…A resolution list paired with prayer, now that’s not such a bad idea!
Philippians 4:6-7,11-13 (Paul speaking here)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus….11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.