I write on the side. For love
Three days a week, I am gainfully employed outside of the home. Another day and more is joyfully invested in ministry and treasured scheduled times with my girlfriends. And feeding and clothing and making this house in the woods a home for Jim and the two sons we’re training up to be men takes time too.
Because I wear so many hats, now and then friends will ask, “How can you do everything you do?”
But what these friends might not know are all the things I DON’T do.
So if you ever feel rotten because you can’t do all the things that a friend of yours can do, this post is for you. On the gateway of the year, pause and remember: there’s a lot of things that person you’re comparing yourself to DOES NOT do.
Like these 10 things, for example, that I DON’T do🙂:
- Care for pets. But Dinah and Zippy were delightful parts of past seasons.
- Clip coupons, buy Groupon and find all the best deals. (I sometimes use Kohl’s cash, though.)
- Sew, knit, quilt and crochet. But I am super blessed by a mother-in-law, nephew, nieces and friends who do.
- Decorate my home. Our walls are (mostly) monastery white, our sofa is 21 years old and that’s all right.
- Workout at the gym. In the time it would take me drive there and back, I can squeeze a jog or bike ride in.
- Watch TV and rarely a movie. I have never, not ever, rented from Netflix or Redbox or Vudu. Really. Truly.
- Make lasagna or salsa or pizza from scratch. Although, as in #3, I’m blessed by family and friends* who do.
- Scroll my way through Facebook. I post and run a lot, and Instagram and Pinterest are off limits for me.
- Pamper at the salon. A combination of Great Clips, Clairol and my friend Holly manage me swimmingly.
- Garden. And by extension: can, freeze and make herbal soap with lavender and thyme. Caveat #7 applies.
That’s my list of 10 things I DON’T do.
They’re not good or bad, right or wrong. The point is not that I can’t or shouldn’t do these 10 things. It’s that, at least for now, I don’t.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It does mean we’ll all find it easier to rest content with what we don’t do when we acknowledge God made us- intentionally- fearfully and wonderfully different. We have different and unequal sets of skills, goals, interests, abilities, and resources.
Which means our lists could stretch to 10,000 things we DON’T DO. And that’s okay. Because our limits are built-in by God. They’re good.
Here’s how Andrea Dekkar closed her “10 Things I DON’T DO” post that prompted this post:
I think the important thing is for each of us to realize what our skills and goals and interests are, and then focus on putting our time, energy, resources towards activities that align with our skills, goals, and interests.
If we can do that on a regular basis, our lives will feel simpler, more organized, less chaotic, and less stressed!
I like that and agree. Building on strengths and using gifts- rather than wishing we could do what we don’t- tends toward growth and joy.
But I can’t leave it there. Because, while my list of 10 will no doubt change with each season of life I’m in, there’s this 1 thing I do that I pray never ends.
One of the first Psalms I set (back) into song 20 years ago was Psalm 105: 1-4. We four still sing it now, ending with verse 4:
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Look to the Lord and his strength and seek His face. Those might sound like three, but it boils down to one.
- Seek Him.
Bing, bang, boom- some things are that simple. God’s children seek his face. They press on, they exert effort to get to God himself.
John Piper describes this sort of seeking as,
[T]o constantly set our minds toward God in all our experiences, to direct our minds and hearts toward him through the means of his revelation…
And there are endless obstacles that we must get around in order to see him clearly, and so that we can be in the light of his presence. We must flee spiritually dulling activities. We must run from them and get around them. They are blocking our way.
These things we must move away from and go around if we would see God. That is what seeking God involves.
That’s my 1 thing. I want move away and go around- some of my DON’Ts- to seek His face because I want to know Him more.
He still speaks.
Because how can you possibly love someone you don’t know? And how can you possibly know someone if you never listen? If you don’t seek?
To know God, we must listen to his voice. His sheep listen to his voice and follow Him (John 10:27).
We must hear God speak.
The spectacular truth is we don’t have to climb a mountain or sail the sea or even rise at 5 am in the quiet, dark to hear Him speak. Because He has spoken. His words are within arm’s reach right now. “The Bible,” AW Tozer wrote, “is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking.”
God wants to speak to us today through his Word. So let’s don’t say God is silent.
He wants us to seek Him and press on to know HIm.
Don’t say God is silent if your Bible is closed.
Tozer also wrote,
Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.
Spurious means false. It’s false to think that once we’ve come to faith and received Christ as Lord we’re done. As if once you’ve found a great friend you can stop seeking to know him.
No! John Piper says it like this, Go hard after the holy God. Isaiah, like this, Seek the Lord while He may be found. He may be found now in His Word.
But we silence the sound of God’s voice in our lives when we leave our Bible on the shelf (or ignore our Bible apps). As has aptly been said, Complaining about God being silent when your Bible is closed is like complaining about not getting texts when your phone is turned off.
Tim Challies puts a bow on it:
Apart from this, speaking by his Son, through his Spirit, in the Bible, God does not promise that He will speak in any other way.
In other words, we can all believe that God will speak to us through the Bible. And all this JoyPrO stuff, I hope, is about how God does speak. About how we find Him when we seek.
What’s on your lists? Do you have 10 things plus 1?
My list of 10 things I DON’T do will change. There might even come a time when I make soap with thyme and crochet.
But seeking Him by grace will – I pray- be my 1 thing. To begin and end this year and all others.
How about you? What are 10 things you don’t do?
And 1 thing, so help you God, you do?
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.