Arrested by Time

I lay in bed and recounted all the things I completed on my To-Do list for that day. I exercised, made breakfast for mom, prayed and read my bible, did laundry, folded towels, marinated chicken wings, hunted down an apple cake recipe for dad’s birthday, and emptied the dishwasher. From there I challenged myself to clean out my library of duplicate and unimportant books, outline a blog, read a few chapters, make dinner, clean the kitchen, watch a TV show with my brother, drive to the post office, and finally, put away my winter clothes in a recently re-organized closet.

The quicker I acted, the more items I could strikethrough. In exhaustion, I wondered why I felt such an urgency to get things done. Why did it matter?

I thanked God for the energy to accomplish so much, but I didn’t feel joy in doing all those things.

I sat up and looked at my list again. Did I need to clear out the dishwasher? Yes, we need coffee mugs. Did I need to clean out my bookcase? Yes. But at that moment? No. Do I need to bake the chicken wings for my sister’s lunch? Yes, I promised her. Did I need to create another blog before I started my new job? No, but it would make life easier. Did I need to make breakfast for mom? No, she can make her own breakfast, but she appreciated the gesture. Did I need to look for the perfect apple cake recipe for my dad’s birthday? Yeah, it’s dad. I continued down my list and realized I felt a greater sense of accomplishment when I acted on someone else’s behalf.

My eyebrow pitched. To my chagrin, I sensed a spiritual lesson forming.

I closed my eyes and heard Elisabeth Elliot quoting the headmistress of her childhood boarding school, who stated, “Don’t go around with a Bible under your arm, if you didn’t sweep under the bed. Daily chores contribute to a life of discipline and character.”

So, do I work to achieve a feeling of satisfaction, or do I lasso my time and apply myself to serving others?

I found my Do More Better book by Tim Challies and re-read it. He says, “Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God…Organize your life so that you can do the maximum good for others and thus bring the maximum glory to God. When we consider others with our time, we are an example to them on how to live.”

Until I read that book, I failed to understand that everything we do must glorify God, but also serve others.  I realized that a disciplined life elevates God by showing people that He is not a God of confusion. Likewise, an act of service is a deed of love because we take from our time to accomplish the task.

Thus, I started a new list with my mind set on those two goals. How do I glorify God? I organize my home, do laundry, pay bills, etc. How do I serve others? By cooking for them, emptying the dishwasher, and cleaning the common living areas of our home.

Somehow having a goal for mundane tasks provides a sense of freedom and joy because its purpose is not self, it is others.

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASB)

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