April 16, 2012

Setting and reaching goals

Looking for some tips, I checked out two books from the library that are about de-cluttering my home. Actually, they are more about de-cluttering all of life. Each book is concerned with the attitudes that are behind saving stuff that you don’t use and keeping things that have no value. One of them divides this clutter into physical, mental and emotional spaces. The other aims at the clutter that happens in physical spaces, schedules and from bad habits. 
From these books, I’ve been challenged to figure out a word or two that describes what has been going on in my life that frustrates me, and a word or two for what describes I want in life from now on. The first one was easy; SPINNING MY WHEELS. 

As for the second part, I’m thinking in terms of biblical goals, but these are secular books. They have no suggestions like “wanting to do God’s will” or “being transformed” or “becoming like Jesus.” 

After reading a few chapters and giving this much thought, wanting to do God’s will is a given. Since I became a Christian, this has been behind everything, even the spinning of wheels. This has to remain as my theme for the second question too, but I wanted to add something that countered that spinning idea. My words should be more like, “focus” or “do the next thing” or even “avoid all distractions.” As I pondered those choices, God somehow managed to hit my thoughts with today’s devotional reading. The verse is right where my challenge words are coming from. 

Jesus is tired and hungry. He stops at a well and encounters a Samaritan woman. By the end of their conversation, this woman leaves her water bucket and runs into the city to tell everyone that she has found the Messiah. In the meantime, the disciples had gone for food and came back urging Jesus to eat. He told them He had food that they didn’t know about. They thought He meant bread, but…
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34)
When the de-clutter book asks for a theme or focus, they define it as something that fits who I am and what gives me the greatest sense of doing what I am meant to do. In other words, what feeds me? Why am I here? What is the work that God has given me? I already agree with Jesus who said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38) 

The comment in the devotional is short and directly to the point. It is a quote from Phillips Brooks who said, “Seek your life’s nourishment in your life’s work.” 

Yes, double yes. Nothing is sadder or more frustrating than meaningless activity. I can tolerate it for a short time, and sometimes foolishly select it (like playing a computer game for an hour), yet even meaningless activities done well cannot compare to the satisfaction of doing that for which I am created. 

Yet few people can hang a description on their “life’s work” — never mind let that be their sole occupation. I still have to clean toilets and shop for groceries. For that reason, I don’t want to select a word or two for want I want in life that narrows my focus to the point that these chores fall off the list. Doing them would continue to make me feel like I am “wasting time” because those necessities were without value.
The woman who wrote this book hasn’t mentioned the daily necessities, but I don’t think she or Jesus intends that anyone skip them because they are not part of a person’s life purpose. Instead of a to-do list, this concept is more about an attitude. The book wants me to pick something that I can focus on, that will help me avoid the space and any time wasting that leave me frustrated. The Bible wants me to continually listen to the voice of God and do whatever He tells me, without hesitation, procrastination, or those “yes, but” arguments. 

For that reason, I’ve picked a combo of a commercial motto and the words of a wise woman: JUST DO THE NEXT THING. This replaces “just do it” — which has no definition, and “do the next thing” — which still leaves room for procrastination.

Lord, as I think about the way You lived, this theme seems to fit it also. You always did whatever God put in front of You, without hesitation, but also without distraction. You were able to focus, even knowing if an interruption was heaven-sent or nothing more than a deterrent that kept You from the will of God. I’ve made the lists suggested in the book. Now I rely on You to guide me. Help me know the next thing that will move me forward to the immediate goal of ridding my life of the unnecessary — and the ultimate goal of becoming more like You.

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