I’ve just finished making my to-do lists using a new method: markdown and HTML. Dividing my many tasks into different categories and subcategories — my tasks for the various aspects of my life and work — I then write my lists in plain text files using a simple markdown editor. These text files are individually converted to HTML pages, to be viewed in a web browser. To make my browsing efficient, I’ve added a basic system of page linking, just like in a website.
The result? Not only are my lists much easier to update now, and to adapt to changes compared to, say, using a task-management software, but my own minimal design also gives me a good overview and summary of my tasks, making prioritizing much easier. The states of my life and work, and my direction have all become clearer, and thus lifting much of the pressure I’ve been feeling lately.
Now, if only life itself is as easy to manage and to understand as our lists of things to do….
Because oftentimes, as we deal with our problems and struggles every day, we can become so focused on what is in front of us, that we forget to consider the bigger picture. We can forget how the pieces of our lives might fit together in the overall scheme of things. This doesn’t sound good, right? After all, we want to make the best of our lives, and so we don’t want to waste our limited time doing things that don’t really matter.
But I’m saying to you now, my friend, that as long as we also don’t forget to thank God continually for all the things he has done for us, and as long as we take an occasional break and try to keep everything in perspective, there is nothing wrong with this: To be focused on our present concerns, and to forget the rest.
Why are you saying this, you are thinking. Why are you saying that it is okay, most of the times, to be concerned only with what is before us?
As I know you’ll agree with me, life is much more complicated than our to-do lists, and it is my conviction that a constant effort to understand (and therefore to control) our lives will eventually overwhelm us.
I ask you, can you really manage in your head all the ceaseless planning on how to improve your lot, and can you carry in your heart the entire weight of all the pains and disappointments you’ve experienced through the years? For a few years, maybe, but for a long time? I don’t think so. But if we focus only on our present troubles, and if we leave behind our baggage, whatever they may be… we get things done. We move on forward.
The Bible has this to say on the matter:
Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? …
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith?
Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil [trouble] is sufficient. — Matthew 6:25,30-34 WEB
The context of this passage is a bit different from what I’ve been talking about, but food, drink, and clothing can easily substitute for the many concerns that we have.
But what is most important about this passage is that it doesn’t apply to all situations, because its application assumes two things: The first is that God is the one who is in control of our lives, not us; and the second is that we are seeking his Kingdom, not our own or that of others.
In other words, it is alright to be concerned only with what is before us if Jesus Christ is our Lord — if we have already surrendered our lives to him.
And that is because it is only his Lordship over our lives that will enable us to focus our attention and energy on our present circumstances. For we will be assured — we will know — that we are moving in the right direction, because he is the one who is leading us, even if sometimes we ourselves don’t understand where we are going. We work on the details, following his commands, and we leave to him the rest — certain that in the end victory is what awaits us.
But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. — Matthew 6:33 WEB
In case you haven’t yet figured out what I’m trying to say to you, my friend, let me say it to you now clearly: The price I’ve paid for my own victory is to surrender my entire life to God.
* * *
In the twelve years since I first surrendered my life to Jesus, there have been many instances and many long periods of time where I simply did what I believed he wanted me to do. And many of the things I’d done for him were unreasonable, and many had no visible results. So if you were only looking for the evidences of success as it is judged by this world, you would definitely consider me a failure. Many had. And some still do.
And though I knew better, there were times when I also thought of myself as a failure. Imagine… having my life broken for twelve long years…. Who would not fall to doubts and to despair in such a situation?
This is not the place to talk freely about this, but let me tell you this now, my friend. That part of my past that covers these past twelve years is filled with many deeply shadowed areas — sufferings and hardships I did not understand, and therefore left behind.
For there is one thing I’ve become good at, and that is moving on.
The lesson I’ve tried to impart to you today — focusing on what is before us, and leaving to God the rest — is one that I’ve been practicing for a long time. My love for Jesus is the reason why I’ve endured until now, but also the hope that someday I will see victory.
And I think that my victory is drawing near. Or maybe it has already come.
As I’ve said in my last post where I laid down the direction of this blog for the next several months, I am in a transition period — “from where I am now, to the place where I can truly work for God because he has provided for my needs.” And I do have the feeling that soon there will be great changes in my life.
And so I think that it is only fitting, as I stand here amidst this period of change, that I look back now on the past — to tell more of my story, and to shed some light on my past’s many shadowed areas.
This post is only the introduction to an essay series I have in mind — a series that will become part of my testimony and of the cornerstone of this ministry.
And my purpose for this series is simply to show you, my friend, how my life has been all these years, so that you can decide for yourself if the victory I’ve gained in Christ is worth the price I’ve paid for it — which is my very life.
Do you want a much closer look into my walk with God?
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This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
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