I have a love/hate relationship with lists.
On one hand, I’ve literally had nightmares involving pictures of checklists with seemingly endless lists of items looming, waking me with a sense of dread concerning all that needed to be accomplished. On the other, there are times I find a simple checklist helps me to define practical goals and feel a sense of accomplishment as each thing (small as it may be) gets marked as completed.
Long-term goals inspire a special kind of anxiety for me at times. Perhaps it is my own immaturity that brings on a mental block when I begin peering into the prospects of what future vision I want to pursue. Maybe it’s a combination of fear of failure and the reality of life experience that teaches me there are many things I thought I should pursue five or ten years ago that I’m glad didn’t work out.
If I’m honest, I think a basic sense of impatience is the biggest reason I struggle with long-term goals. I struggle with a constant sense of wanting to have “arrived”. It’s not unlike a longing for the perfection of heaven, and it helps when I acknowledge that. But, if God had wanted us to have arrived right here and now, there would not still be work to done.
So, how do you balance the tension between the reality of that which is unfulfilled and the inspiration, motivation, and will to continue the work to which you’ve been called, knowing that there will be a lot of waiting in between?
I believe part of the answer is worship. I think it sometimes takes more faith to worship God, say, on a Monday morning. Monday represents the beginning of another week filled with lists of work to be done. Or a Wednesday, when maybe the list isn’t even halfway checked off, but half the week is gone. Persevering in worship through these times requires a trust in something greater than the satisfaction of a job well done or a list that is checked off. Worshiping in the “in between” times requires a sense of rest and peace based on Christ alone. It requires moments of intentionally asking God to do His will in me, to show me what I am trying to control, and replacing clenched fists with open hands.
You see…we don’t have to have control to have peace. That’s something I’m learning. And I have to have open hands to receive His peace. I’m also learning that I’m always worshiping something. Whether it be the work of my hands, the respect of people, control… But, in Christ, God offers us another option. We could worship the only One worthy. We could experience worship that does not destroy us or our souls as those other forms of worship do. When we worship God, we find our center. When we worship Jesus in the unknown and in between, we don’t have any more control of our circumstances, and the time it will take to accomplish the goals He gives may take just as long; but we can have peace, relationship, and the comfort of His presence as we rehearse the truth, beauty, love, grace, majesty, and glory found only in Him. And…as we spend time gazing at His beauty, we may find our goals change.
As the Christmas season gives way to the New Year….
As we analyze the lists and goals unaccomplished….
As we think on what we want to accomplish this year, or how we want to change…
Perhaps it is also a good time to get re-acquainted with worship. Just spending time intentionally thanking, adoring, and trusting our Good Father with no agenda other than that. Of course, worship is a very submissive and receptive position to put yourself in…so keep your ears open for the new things you might hear God’s Spirit whispering.
May God bless us in 2016 as we position ourselves in worship.