I love to make lists. Partially because it helps me focus on what I need to do. But, when it really comes down to it, I like to make lists because of the satisfaction of checking off each item.
You see, I am a finisher. I might have trouble coming up with ideas or even getting something started. But, once I get going, I want to finish it. And, when I can look at a completely checked-off list, I feel as if I have accomplished and completed something. I like that feeling.
Being a list-maker and a finisher can be great qualities, especially when I’m paired with a dreamer and a planner. Together, we can go far and accomplish much! But, I have also discovered that the same qualities that can accomplish much can also lead me down a path away from submission to and growth in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we entered the first week of September we were blessed with our first glorious cool snap. I had been saying for a while that when the first cool wave hit, I would cancel school, send the kids outside, and tackle several projects that had been awaiting my attention. I honestly didn’t expect the coolness to come so early. After all, I live in the South. We rarely experience fall weather before the official arrival of autumn, and frequently a true cool-down doesn’t show up until several weeks, if not a couple of months, after the calendar date. So, to have this much cool weather before September 23 was deliciously miraculous! But, despite the unexpected earliness of the weather, I went through with my plans. I informed the children Monday night of that week that there would be no school for the rest of the week, and I established my plan.
One of the things on my grand list was sorting through the kids fall clothes. I really thought it would be early October before the weather came through, and I was tempted to not even bother with the clothes yet since it was so early. But, looking at the calendar I knew I wouldn’t have another chance before the permanent temperature drop arrived, so I went on with the plan.
After I sorted through all of the clothes, I made a list of everything we were lacking. There really weren’t many things on the list. God always provides so wonderfully, and this year was no exception! Even so, the list held some pretty critical items that would be needed for the coming fall and winter.
Because it was just a few things, I knew we could technically afford to just go shopping and get them all. But, Something held me back. Somehow I knew we weren’t supposed to jump in the van that week – or even the next week – and go buy the things on that list. I didn’t know why, but I just knew we shouldn’t.
But, oh how I wanted to! I had a list! I was ready to go! And, it grated on me to not go and take care of my list. I hated to have things undone. I hated to not be finishing the task I had started. It wasn’t really about the needs being provided. It was about that list. The whole thing launched me into a restlessness that lasted for several days.
I still haven’t figured out a concrete practical reason why God held me back from leading our family to just jump in the van and go shopping. But, the spiritual reasons jumped out at me very quickly. God opened my eyes to the realization that my list and my drive to complete that list were a form of idolatry. My goals, my desires, and my plans were all wrapped up in completing that task and purchasing every item on that list. But God’s desire was for me to place it in His hands. He wanted me to let Him be our Provider. He wanted me to trust in His plan and His timing, not in my list and our checking account provision.
We did end up going shopping a few weeks later to take care of most of that list. God led us to some great deals on those much-needed items, some of them from shopping at second-hand stores. A few items remain, simply because we haven’t run across them or don’t specifically need them yet. But, all in all, we’ve approached the list with patience, waiting on Him to guide us to the provision. Because of that, though, the completion is His, not mine. The provision is His, not mine. And the glory is His, not mine. Doing it His way was essential.