I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. -John 10:10
Do you feel like you're missing out on this kind of life? Are we spending our time doing things that energize and revive us, or are we filling our lives to the brim with things that only end up draining us, all in the name of responsibility? Certainly, there has to be more to life. I thought about this concept a while ago when writing about finding things that energize us, but this goes deeper.
Life is full of not-so-fun obligations that we can't avoid, like filing our taxes and paying our bills. But when we have a laundry list of things we want to accomplish, we can develop a case of tunnel vision, only seeing our goals and ignoring everything else before us. In doing so, we might miss other doors that open up before us. If we're holding tightly onto our detailed dreams for the future, we limit God's ability to bless us with something different but infinitely better in the long run.
I used to get discouraged when my to-do list wasn’t finished by the end of the day. I concluded that I hadn’t used my time wisely, because my list didn’t get done. But then God challenged my thinking by asking, “If you are walking with me step-by-step throughout your day, following my leading moment-by-moment, isn’t that accomplishing MY to-do list?”
Proverbs 16:9 says: “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
If we walk by the Spirit throughout our day, we can experience God’s plans for our time.
We accomplish His tasks, His ideas, His hopes. And, in doing so, we can find great satisfaction at the end of the day. Even more satisfaction than a crossed-off to-do list. -Christine Meggison, (in)courage
If we want to embrace the kind of full life Christ has in store for us, we need to hold onto our dreams, goals, hopes, and blessings with open hands. Everything we have is a gift from God, and He is merely trusting us to be good managers of His things. We need to keep our eyes open to the people around us to see how we might best use what we've been given. God cares far more about people than things and accomplishments, and we should follow suit.
If we're constantly tuned in only to our own to-do lists, we'll miss the chances to connect on a deeper level with people because we think we're too busy to stop. In our determination to accomplish our narrowly defined goals through the carefully-planned steps we have laid out for ourselves, we put on blinders to the outside world, restricting opportunities to invest in others and let them invest in us. Instead of letting God be God and move in whatever ways He wishes, we usurp His role and try to tell Him when, where, and how to act by determining the path we think our lives should take.
What would happen if we let go of our rigidity and embraced a more flexible approach to life and all it throws our way? Instead of thinking of unexpected interactions as interruptions in our plan, we might actually start viewing them as divine appointments-- openings to build friendships, serve others, share their burdens, walk beside them, and show them love. This kind of attitude would not only benefit those we "help," but it would be good for us, too. These are the very things that give us life, the things that make life worth living. Relationships are what it's all about at the end of the day. And clearly, that is far more valuable than getting our laundry done.
Living life to the fullest looks like embracing the everyday beauty of our unique lives, cherishing each season that comes, and making the most of what we have while we have it. It might look like opening your messy home in the name of community and hospitality, going to a job you're not crazy about so you can have the ability to financially support a charity you believe in, talking to your coworker who's grieving, befriending a new neighbor, or sending a card or flowers to cheer up a friend. It might mean working less so you can spend more time with your family when your kids are young because you know they'll grow up all too fast, setting aside your phone when you're with friends because they're more important than your inbox, and being willing to help those around you in seasons of abundance and willing to ask for assistance in seasons of need.
Today I encourage you to keep your eyes open to the world around you while you go about your tasks. It's buzzing with the possibility of a full life. Where might there be opportunities for you to pause in your daily rhythms and invite others in? Who could use a little encouragement or a listening ear? Whose burden might you be perfectly suited to bear? Who is hurting but too afraid to ask for help? Let us together strive to use the things we have been blessed with to bless those around us. We might just find that these opportunities are far more life-giving than a completed to-do list could ever be. I have a strong suspicion that they are.