I first earned the dubious honor of being nicknamed “Action Amy” at 20 years old when I helped lead a group of teenagers on a mission trip. You can definitely imagine teens repeating that nickname with sarcastic tones and eye rolls. I’m sure I deserved it–at least a little!
Although I’ve mellowed some with age and experience, my tendency toward task-orientation hasn’t changed much. If I could give each of you a tour of my house, you’d see the evidence in the form of lists. To-do lists are a tiny obsession with me. I have a list on my kitchen whiteboard of people to call back, and there’s another list by the phone of award winning movies I want to watch. There a list of meals to cook (this might get done) and another list of items to pick up at the store on the breakfast bar. Beside my bed there’s a list of recommended books to read, and up in my office there are multiple legal pads each with a list of tasks to accomplish for that particular “hat”.
It’s. A. Sickness.
I don’t claim to accomplish every item on my lists, but I’m pretty highly motivated to get ‘er done. All my activity and organization makes me look pretty good on the outside … just like the church at Sardis in Rev. 3:1-6.
But for the church at Sardis, Jesus, without the usual start of commendation, gives this scathing rebuke that stops a list-obsessed girl in her tracks, “I know your deeds; you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
Oh, ouch! My toes!
Making a list and checking it twice is my default, and I have to confess it sometimes shoves aside true, deep relationship with God.
Just this morning I read these words from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, “Christian work may be a means of evading the soul’s concentration on Jesus Christ…. Sometimes there is nothing to obey (my note…item to check off your list), the only thing to do is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, to see that nothing interferes with that.”
Sometimes I’ve let LOTS of other busyness interfere with vital connection with Jesus Christ, but in verse 3, Jesus gives Sardis and us 4 commands to combat sliding into death. I’m going to add one action step to take for each:
1. Remember– Write down or retell your story of first falling in love with and giving your life to Jesus. There’s nothing like it to remind us of the joy of the first season of walking with Him.
2. Obey–Recently I heard Beth Moore say, “Many of us are moved by scripture, but we have to ask ourselves, ‘When was the last time I was changed by scripture.'” To stay alive spiritually, we can’t continue to ignore the transforming power of God and His Word in our lives. We have to move with Him, obey and change. I encourage you to ask this question of yourself that I’ve been using to evaluate, “How am I allowing this scripture to change me?”
3. Repent– God has designed us for full, abundant, joyful life. When we realize we’ve slid into a spiritual death spiral, the thing we need to do (and quickly!) is to say we’re sorry and start again. Repentance is the bridge back to Life.
4. Wake up!– We must live intentionally focused on God every day instead of lulled into spiritual numbness and sleep by consuming activity. I’m going to leave this one up to you. What intentional way will you turn your focus back toward God this week?
So one of the things I commit to is time with Jesus before I start checking things off my to-do list for the day. Well…maybe I’ll add just one thing to my list to start with…Today is a big day. Don’t forget God!