Imagine with me, if you will, a conscientious young woman. She has a full, rich life as wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and child of God (among other things). In order to manage the details of her varied and numerous roles she keeps a list. This list, she feels, grounds her - keeps her moving in the right direction at all times enabling her to accomplish all the necessary things in any given day.
Nothing gives her more satisfaction than to look at her list at the end of the day and see every single item checked off. Of course it doesn't work that way every day, but then she simply adds the unfinished tasks to the next day's list.
Keeping to this regimented way of life comes at a certain cost. Her over-crowded days leave very little time for the, seemingly, less urgent duties. For instance, it's difficult to sit still long enough to listen to a six year old's long-winded account of his day at school. Dinner is calling; the dryer just buzzed, and if she doesn't get the clothes folded right away she'll end up with a bunch of ironing.
She has noticed that for days her twelve year old daughter just isn't herself. She makes a mental note to have a talk with her but first she has to call the parents in her middle child's Sunday school class to get volunteers for the teacher appreciation night.
Her husband mentioned something about a problem at work, but there hasn't been a free moment to sit and talk. She meant to ask him about it as they lay in bed the other night, but her eyes closed in exhaustion before she could say a word.
The next morning, before throwing back the covers and stepping into another busy day, she lays still a moment trying to figure out why she feels such an emptiness. If she were to ask her family, they would have no trouble answering her question.
They would, with varying degrees of sadness, tell her she had gone far away from them. In spite of all the good things she did, she had neglected to do the one thing that mattered most. She had sacrificed relationship for her to-do list.
I find I am all too prone to being like this young, well-meaning woman. Not only do I make my list of "things to do," there have been seasons where I have relegated my relationship with the Lord to another item on that list. Prayer - check; Bible reading - check; Bible Study lesson - check until one day I acknowledge the emptiness in my heart. The Lord, whose approval I've been trying so hard to earn, seems so distant.
All the while, He waits right where He has always been. He waits - longing to deepen our relationship - to draw me close and pour His life into mine. As I put my hand in His, He whispers His love into my heart and my list falls gently to the ground.
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him..." Ps. 145:18