Tag Archives: to-do lists

Love is All You Need

Watchmen Nee wrote that his mentor, Margaret Barber, cared more about life than work. She focused on loving the people God brought her way rather than the work she needed to get done.

What a beautiful focus.This is my desire as well, but too often loving people gets lost behind the pressure to get things done.

A few months ago, I needed to get the name of diabetic test strips which would be covered under our new insurance plan. My pharmacy told me to call my doctor. My doctor told me to call my insurance company. My insurance company referred me to a third party, which handled pharmacy issues.

After navigating a labyrinth of computer generated voices, I finally spoke to a person. His name was John. His voice was slow and shaky. I had the call on speaker and my wife and I could tell John was elderly, probably in his seventies.

John didn’t know the answer to my question and suggested I call my pharmacy. When I told I had,  he suggested I call my insurance company. I tried to calmly explain that my insurance company was who told me to call him.

By this point, I had no compassion for John. I really just wanted to mark this nagging to-do off my list. I didn’t care what John might have been going through.  I’d lost sight of any opportunity to love him.

John put me on hold so he could try and get an answer. While we waited, my wife helped me see the situation differently. She could tell he was having a difficult time.  She felt bad for him.

When John got back on the line, he had an answer. As he explained it, my wife made a signal for me to pray with him. This wasn’t on my radar, but when he was done, I said, “John, is there anything I could pray for you about?”

“Yes,” John answered quickly. Then a silence.

“What can I pray for you about?” I repeated.

“My salvation,” John cried out.

Wow.

I prayed with John right there on the phone, though I’m sure the call was monitored. I prayed he would recognize God’s tremendous love for him. I let him know God was willing to allow His Son, Jesus, to die in his place to rescue him and to give him eternal life.

When I finished and said goodbye, we could hear what seemed to be sobs from John before we hung up.

What a wonderful interaction. But I almost  missed it. I was so focused on getting things done, loving John had dropped from consideration. I’d lost sight of the most important thing.

Jesus, on the night before his crucifixion, gave his disciples a single great command. He told them that as they followed this one thing, they would stay connected to his love and their joy would be made complete.[1]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Earlier in the evening, in John 13, he’d washed their stinky, dirty feet. The next day, he would endure a cruel death on a cross to save them.

This is how he’d loved them. This is how he’s loved us.

His one charge to them, and to us, is to love others in the same sacrificial way he has loved us.

It’s not the work. It’s the people. The things we do are not an end but a means to bring us to the people God wants us to love.

As we yield to God’s Indwelling Spirit, he will accomplish the work he wants done through us. The work will get done as we focus on loving people.

Our job is to love first. It’s really all we need. Maybe the Beatles had it right after all. (8^>

Prayer: Most gracious, heavenly Father. I’m sorry I so easily get caught up in the swirl of duties that love becomes secondary. I see you all around me in your creation and in the people you bring my way. Please help me trust you that the work will get done. I’m asking you to change the paradigm of my day to care less about accomplishments and more about loving every person you bring my way.

 

[1] John 15:9-12

Minding your Busyness

..but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:42

If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.

 I was preoccupied as I pulled up in front of Dad’s trailer. My father had been through a lot of pain and was trying to rebuild his life. He didn’t have a car and he depending upon me. On this particular Saturday, he needed me to pick up some groceries. I was doing what he asked, but it was not out of love for him, it was out of duty.

My task list had grown so large, the joy of life was being sucked out of me. As I was lifting the bags of groceries from my car, I was already thinking of the other items on my task list. I had to mow the yard, take the kids to the park, check on a problem at work, prepare to teach Sunday school the next day and …

I charged into Dad’s trailer and began stacking the groceries on his kitchen table. When I was done, I told him I was running short on time and would need to be going. He asked me to sit a moment and chat. I agreed, but insisted I was on a tight schedule. I could see the disappointment in his eyes, as I sat down.

“Rob, you’re always on a tight schedule. Where do I fit in?” Dad asked. “Put me on your priority list somewhere!”

My immediate reaction was anger. In fact, I think I even raised my voice at him. “Dad, you have no idea all I have going on!” I fumed, releasing some pent up pressure.

Later, as I reflected on Dad’s words, my heart was pierced. He had nailed me. I had become so busy, people had dropped from my priority list. I was very dutiful, seeing people not as objects of love, but obstacles to my ever growing list of duties.

Looking back on the time now, I see that much of my busyness was self-imposed; adding task after task to earn God’s love and to avoid feeling as if I had failed in my roles as husband, father, brother, employee, friend and son. Truly I was acting more like a “human doing” than a human being.

Because of this, I wondered how God could be so merciful to me. He called me to be an ambassador of His love, yet I was not spreading his love. Even though I was doing things for Dad, he was not feeling loved. He felt disrespected by my indifference to him as a person. I suspected my wife and kids and friends were feeling the same thing. I was so busy, yet I was literally doing more harm than good.

I thought of Martha in Luke chapter 10, verses 38-42. Jesus was in her house, but she was so preoccupied with her duties she missed Him. Jesus told her she was bothered and worried about so many things.

But her sister Mary knew exactly what to do. While Martha was stressing over her tasks, Mary was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His words. Mary chose the one thing that was important.

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NASB)

Now, years later, I’m convinced that if I follow Mary’s example, what needs to be get done will be accomplished. And though I still struggle at times with the Martha syndrome, I also know that activities, which do not spring from my dependence upon Christ, accomplish nothing of eternal value.[1]

Mary was not lazy. After the scene recorded in Luke, she would take a costly vial of perfume and anoint the Lord’s body for burial. This work, done in response to her great love for Jesus, will always be remembered whenever the gospel is preached.[2]

I want to be like Mary; to love and trust Jesus so much that He is the one focus of my life. After all, Jesus lives in me. His love is in my heart. I don’t have to do anything for Him to love me. I’m simply told to remain where He has put me: in His love.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. John 15:9 (NIV)

Challenge: When you feel yourself getting busy, slow down. Follow Mary’s example of being with Jesus and listening to His words. And don’t stop resting in Him even when your activities begin. Depend upon the Indwelling Spirit of Jesus to love the people He brings your way. Let love be your focus. What needs to get done, will get done.

God produces extraordinary accomplishments when we depend upon His Spirit in us.

Lord, thank you for showing me that focusing on You and listening to You is the key to life.  Please help me trust this fact, even in the midst of life’s responsibilities. Guard me from being bothered and worried about my tasks. Build in me the rhythm of sitting with you and listening to you, before I work and while I work. I love you, Lord. Keep me settled in Your love.

The man who remains in the love of Jesus is never a failure.

 

 

 

[1] John 15:5

[2] Mark 14:9