Listening over lists

The Bible’s open and my brain is shouting ‘do something else.’ It started as a whisper, but the longer I resist, the more urgent it becomes.

‘Emma’, it says. ‘Finish the washing-up.  Answer email. Take those bags to the charity shop. Fill out the forms.’

I ignore it, and it starts to huff.

‘Take a break’ it whines. ‘It’s been a busy week and you’ve got time to yourself!  Go shopping. Surf the net. Relax. Read a book, (but not that one)’.

The cat snorts from the sofa and I eye my Bible. I know it’s important…but is it useful? Useful like deadlines and folded laundry and ticked boxes? Useful like a swept inbox or floor?

I’m proud of being a ‘yes’ woman. But maybe I say ‘yes’ to the trivial…and ‘no’ to what actually matters.

Yes to my fears and yes to myself.    The self that needs to be needed. The self that’s scared of stopping and being still.

In busyness and bustle is my salvation, in checklists and doing is my strength.

That’s the mantra but it doesn’t deliver.  I’m busy, but I’m grumpy and tired. And here’s the problem – every yes means a no I hadn’t planned.

‘No’ to time with the Lord and relationships that won’t be boxed.  ‘No’ to the Spirit and a prayerful heart. ‘No’ to unplanned encounters and messy conversations.  ‘No’ to moments that can’t be zip-locked and stored.

‘No’ to the self that I was made to be. ‘No’ to the woman that God has designed to bless.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

I want to be a ‘yes’ woman.  But ‘yes’ to the right things.  ‘Yes’ to my limitations, as well as my ambitions.  ‘Yes’ to coping, instead of competing.  ‘Yes’ to weakness without shame; ‘yes’ to stillness and His strength.

What does a Spirit-filled ‘yes’ look like? I’m still working it out.  But I want it – and He wants it for me. So I’m keeping my Bible open.  I’m listening…and for this God-given moment, those lists can wait.

6 thoughts on “Listening over lists

  1. Thank you. I too experience fear of being still. I have a daily terror of going off piste. Away from the safety of the script, the auto pilot, the controls I try to surround myself with. I so desperately want to spend time with the Lord, but somehow my brain has filed that under unsafe, too hard, too many steps to push myself through – maybe today just stay on the safe slopes of lists and tick boxes. The problem is I say that everyday.

  2. “…‘No’ to the self that I was made to be. ‘No’ to the woman that God has designed to bless…”

    I am a woman of good intentions myself, which often turns out to be the same thing. Not intentionally choosing all those heartless no’s but finding my days are filled with them anyway.

  3. Thanks Susie!

    Johanna – I say it everyday too. I think that’s why we’re told to pray for daily bread – Jesus knows we leak faith overnight! But He tells us gently to ask for daily grace. And so, even though each day we stumble, each day we discover His mercy afresh.

    Caroline – you’re right, we’ll never get there under our own intentions or strength. But sometimes it’s when our strength and intentions fail that we also see our need; and we go to Him with new hunger and a thankfulness that would be missing where we able to get there ourselves

  4. Thanks Emma
    I was reading some jokingly disparaging remarks about “list makers” in a book the other day. (A book, mind you, that was supposed to encourage me in my own unique journey. But because of the author’s long list of impressive accomplishments, it only served to expose what a foolish, jealous and small minded woman I am…which I GUESS is part of my journey too… but it made the day much harder and that’s NOT what I was after)
    Anyway this little joke about list makers really bothered me. It followed me through that day and into the next, until it hit me: God is a list maker! We get it from Him! But like anything else our lists and love of checking them must be submitted to Him.

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