One week left. Hmmm….what will I have accomplished when I go back to work next week? Will I look back on this time with regret, wishing I had been more disciplined in setting concrete goals, and that I had actually crossed of some of those irksome, been-hanging-over-my-head items from my to-do list that I have procrastinated about for months, and even years?
I would like to carry on as though I were already retired (or at least how I imagine retirement might be). Taking each day as it comes, with fewer pressing items on my agenda. Just drifting through the days in this relaxed, content attitude of what will be will be. But reality must intrude. Time will once again have its rule over me, and I know I will have regrets if I let the remaining days slide by in a haze of self-indulgent inactivity.
I did pray this morning, asking God to direct me. I actually made a list of people to call, tasks to tackle, cards to write. I puttered the morning away, until now. Then I sat down with my Bible, and began reading in the Psalms. On my mind was the conflict within me: to do or not to do. What should I be doing with the rest of today? The rest of my week? So many things clamor for my attention. Then I remembered Psalm One. I turned there, and read those encouraging words:
“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3 NASB)
These verses point me in the right direction. Seeking God, in His word. Seeking His will for my life, my days, my hours and minutes. It is not my agenda that I need to follow, but His. So often we place heavy burdens on ourselves. We have expectations that are born of worry and doubt, and that leave God out of the picture. It is not about what we can accomplish today, or how many things we can cross of our to-do lists. It is about living our life out of God’s Word, by His Spirit, and the nourishment, power, and purpose that He gives to us. It is about His life being lived out in and through us:
“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12b,13 NASB)
It is GOD who is at work in us, bending our will to His, leading us in those good works that He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph :2:10.)
If I assign to myself what I conclude is sufficient and proper ‘fruit’ for the day, I am setting myself up for failure. For as sure as my plans will be unrealistic if they are made depending on my own wisdom, the end result will be frustration and disappointment for me, and little of value toward accomplishing His Kingdom purposes.
I have a hard time “letting go” of all those “shoulds” that can plague us each day. Worldly standards, other people’s opinions, and our own wrong expectations and priorities can keep us miserable, ever reaching for the dangled carrot of thinking “at last, I have had a good day. I have done what I set out to do, and have arrived at a place where I am organized, disciplined, and diligent enough to sit back and give myself a pat on the back.” I should know by now that if I ever do end the day with those thoughts, I will only be fooling myself. If ever I accomplish anything of value, the credit must go to God, for apart from Christ, I can do nothing:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NASB)
Abiding in Christ, abiding in His Word, abiding in His will, abiding in His strength, abiding in His love. Seeking His mind, His agenda, and His purpose for my days. That is where the fruit comes from. And it will come, in its season. Not when I determine it should, or perhaps not in ways that I will recognize right away, or even in this lifetime. But in His ways, His timing, for His good pleasure.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”
(Prov. 3:5-6 NASB)