Unpacking my briefcase here in Wallingford a piece of blue paper fluttered out. It was a to-do list I had drawn up some time before Easter 2010. It had 21 items on it including two sermons to be written, mentoring at the Oak Lawn church, many individuals who needed letters and emails, and a number of heavier tasks relating to conference preparation in Australia and elsewhere.
I often write out to-do lists - its helps keep me on track and with relish I cross out each item as I complete it. I am sure many of my readers do the same thing. However, with this list I was amazed to see how few items were crossed out. Perhaps I had mislaid it early on? It was so disturbing to look at the major commitments that remained undone. It immediately triggered urgency (and some panic) about missed deadlines. Yet, with immense relief , I looked down the list and realized they were all past and (most importantly) all fulfilled. I remembered how some of them seemed daunting at the time.
It was a good reminder how easily worries can dominate our thinking. Yet a few months later we can barely remember them. Jesus talked knowlingly about taking each day at a time. "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own" (Matt. 6:34). I still think to-do lists are a help (even on sabbatical) but finding this old list puts them into perspective!