I sat down to reconstruct the chore list for our family. Our foreign exchange student has returned home, much to our sadness, and with it she didn’t just leave an empty room, hole in our hearts, or empty seat at the table; she also left empty spaces where she, like each of our kids, completed one chore per day. And so began the task or reorganizing our chore list.
Our lives are much like a chore list. We may not write them down but we mentally make a checklist in our minds each day.
Take the kids to their dental appointment
Feed the dog
Call into the conference
Pick-up chicken on the way home
Take the trash out
In taking time for our to-do lists, we forget what we are a spending time on. Yes, I know. You “know“ what you are spending your time on; however, do you understand what you are spending your time on?
The list above represents tasks, it involves people, but it does not engage people.
We will never be finished with to-do lists in our lives; however, we must make time to engage with the people who make up our lives, who give us purpose, and create joy.
Have you ever read the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible? You can find the full story in Luke 10:38-42. The long and the short of it is this: Jesus and his disciples were traveling and on their journey a woman named Martha opened her home to them. Her sister, Mary, sat with Jesus listening to what He said which angered Martha because she was busting her butt with chores. Martha confronted Jesus like this:
”She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (NIV).”
Jesus basically told Martha that when Mary chose to spend time with Him; rather than do chores, she had made a better choice. Now, this by no way means we should quit our jobs and hang out with people all the time; however, spending time with people should be the priority while Jesus should always be the first priority.
I’ll admit, my default is to be a Martha. I’m just wired that way, but Jesus called me to be a “new creation.” I mean, there wasn’t much to decipher when He tells Peter in Luke 21 to “feed my sheep“ and then again, “take care of my sheep.” Jesus means for us to love people and loving people means actively engaging them right where they are.
As much as I truly love people, I know my default can kick into high gear when our family gets started in a project or a difficult situation is occurring. Knowing who I am (a task driven perfectionist), I need to remind myself to take that time to not only spend time with Christ but, more importantly, His people. Sometimes that means making myself a note. One of my latest notes two weeks ago looked like this:
I love writing Bible verses, notes to my hubby, and lists on my bathroom mirror just to keep myself focused on right priorities. And, yes, although it is difficult to read, that is a list to Marco Polo, call, and text people. 90% of these interactions were to check on others or to chat. I know this may seem unauthentic to some; however, this is as authentic as it gets. To know that you care about people, to know you will get bogged down in an impending task, and to intentionally choose to write down a few people to check on. I am in no way perfect, but I try to remain present.
And so I encourage you, amidst your checklist of to-dos, to spend time with Jesus first so that your priorities can be right. Then, choose to be intentional in each moment of your day.
Intentionally engage with people— the people around you, the person serving you, the people on social media. I encourage you to live presently and futurely. And rest assured, I will be right beside you doing the same.... you may even end up on my list!
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