The following article was from a
recent “Fax of Life” by Rubel Shelly:
operate from daily to-do lists. Do you? Making out
my list not only helps me remember the things ahead
but to prioritize them. Deadlines are their most
menacing when you’ve let them get so close that they
smother you into inactivity.
The list I’m working on right now
actually covers more than just today. There are some
complex and interrelated issues that are going to
take several days to unravel – if they can be
unraveled. So they are on the list in priority
I try to keep each list
reasonably short. As the number of items on my to-do
list grows, the ability to manage my time
effectively diminishes. Referring back to the list
imposes discipline on my day and holds me to my
tasks. “Planning is of no use at all,” says Peter
Drucker, “unless it eventually degenerates into
There are two other lists I keep
as well. These aren’t always written down in a
notebook. Yet I carry them with me everywhere I go.
And the strange thing is that each has the power to
cancel out the other. One shrinks as the other
My worry list tends to be
composed of things that are beyond my power to
control. So crisis events, others’ demands on me,
and things I’d like to bring under my control make
this list. These are the things that distract me
during the day and keep me awake at night. They
seldom generate anything productive, for the idea
that I can bring life under my personal control is
only a delusion.
My prayer list is made up of the
people, situations, and events I choose to surrender
to God. These are the things I know I can’t handle.
They are too big and too important for me to try to
force them to an outcome I can dictate.
See why they cancel out one
another? Anything I’ve given over to God doesn’t
have to be fretted over. He’s competent enough to
handle it. So long as I am trying to bring things
under my personal control, though, I run the risk of
fighting not only the defiant realities around me
but God’s will for my life. The more praying I do,
the less power worry has to interrupt my strength or
The Bible presents this
challenge: “Do not worry about anything, but in
everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NRSV).
The more items that get moved off
your worry list onto your prayer list, the better
off you’ll be. God will graciously replace your
anxiety with His peace.