For years I lived by the “to do” list. Almost every night before I went to bed, I wrote a 4 X 6 card with the things to be accomplished the next day. Theoretically, I then fell asleep, having cleared my mind of responsibilities by having them written on my card.
However, many nights I lay with open eyes mentally adding things until I got up and added another card or started with a fresh card detailing the new “others” on the list.
Many years ago my Mom told our Bible study that we girls expected too much of ourselves. She told us we went to bed discouraged because we had only crossed 15 items off our 23-item list. Had we not done 15 things? Where did we lose sight of the accomplishments? In her day Monday was wash DAY — all day. Sorting heralded the start of the process. Clothes went into the wringer washer, then to the extractor, then out on the clothesline (think New York State winters!). When dried, or frozen, the clothes came into the house, went on radiators if thawing was required, and were folded and put away. Since no one then owned the amount of clothing we do now, the wash day completion was imperative. Even with Mom’s pep talk, I spent years living by the legalism of the “to do” list.
At the end of our first year of retirement and my year anniversary of making no “to do” lists, I love the grace of life lived without legalism. This past Sunday Dave and I took a “car hike” after lunch. I asked Dave to stop the Jeep as we crossed a tiny tributary of Bear Creek when the sunlight and water caught my attention. I got out and a branch caught a shaft of sunlight and dazzled in front of my lens. We had just visited a local artist’s fused glass studio, bought one of her pieces as a Christmas gift, and enjoyed the beauty and serenity of her yard. Sunday afternoon beckoned us to revel in God’s creation — and no “to do” list for Monday hung over my head. Such freedom!
Yesterday, after cleaning, dusting and completing the window washing, Dave and I opted for a mid-afternoon DVD after a soak in the hot tub.
I thought of the parallels between life in the fast lane and retirement pacing as they compare to one’s faith. So many religions relate security of the next life and comfort in this world to performance. Follow such a religion and the “to do” list hangs precariously over my head. Do a prescribed prayer, sacrifice, duty, etc. and I will please the chosen deity. Living by grace in all that Jesus accomplished on my behalf means He accepts me as His child. That doesn’t mean license (St. Augustine said, “Love God and do as you please.”) but it means living and serving out of gratitude and not obligation. The Gospel offers relationship and not religion. As my pastor said on Sunday, “Legalism says ‘do’; the Gospel says ‘done.'”