Jan 23, 2016

A List-less Life

An open, unplanned day is like a blank slate – where do I start drawing? I look around my house at all I have to do and my messy desk with all the paperwork. It’s overwhelming to know what to do first when everything seems so important.

Usually I start with a list. I write down everything I can think of that I need to do. New things are always coming to mind. Sometimes my lists develop sub-lists: today, tomorrow, this week, etc.. Then I am overwhelmed with list maintenance as more things go on the list than I actually get done.

There must be a better way!

Enter the sweet, small impression of the Holy Spirit.

What if I just asked God, “What do I do next?” and then do what He brings to mind?

Hmmm, the possibilities…

…sweet fellowship with Jesus all day long
…trust that if something is a priority He will remind me
…ability to focus on what I’m doing instead of trying to remember it all
…increased faith as I discover He plans so much better than I do
…and, freedom from lists!

I started this yesterday and had an incredibly peaceful and productive day. Morning routine, worked for a few hours, relaxed for a bit, cleaned the bathroom, spent time with the Lord. Today I’ve had a bit of down time (aka, did my own lazy thing), but now I’m writing this blog – the next thing on His agenda.

My goal with this new approach is to learn to walk in step with Jesus every moment of every day with little or no conscious effort.

I want to learn how to hear His voice more clearly and respond with confidence. When things happen, I want my reflexive response to be, “What now, God?” instead of, “I need to figure this out.”

I want this verse to be embedded in me so deeply that I replace all confidence in myself with faith in Jesus.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5-6, MSG)

My friend Robin reminded me of what God spoke to her recently: “Don’t pine over the past nor fret the future, but remain in the moment with Me.”

Today God gave me practical application for these words in my own life.

Jesus, teach me how to live each moment trusting You. Help me to “fear not” what I might miss without my list to remind me. I trust You to make sure that I do Your will – that you won’t let me forget what is important to You. I’m so excited about what You’ll show me!

Is it possible to live a totally list-less life? I’m going to do my best to find out!

Anyone want to join me?


  1. Mary, this post is both comforting and convicting. You understand my struggles with to-do lists. I need to learn to follow Jesus' agenda each day instead of being a slave to all the things I think I "should" do.

    1. Ahhh, the "should do's"...those things that seem to be on the list perpetually. Yes, David, those have to go, for sure - they always stressed me out too. Thanks for sharing, and keep me posted on how things are going.

    2. Hi Mary, you asked me to keep you posted on how things are going, so here goes: this really works!!! Thank you so much. My days are becoming more productive as God shows me what to work on (and for how long) and what to let go of. He's so much smarter than I am. :)

  2. What a challenge! In a small way it reminds me of Brother Lawrence, who wrote "The Practice of the Presence of God." Thanks Mary.

    Please post again and let us know how it goes.

    1. I remember Francois talking about that book. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing, Maureen...and, I will!

  3. I used to do this all the time, Mary, and it was wonderful. When I went to work in the morning, I already had a to-do list long enough to fill two days. I started my morning with "What should I do first?" and went step by step through the day, asking "what next?" It was the least stressful, most productive time I've ever experienced.

    The past few years, I've stopped doing that and your post reminds me that even a unstressful life can be very unproductive without the Lord's guidance. I'm with you! I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

    1. Yes, that's true...just scrapping the list doesn't relieve stress unless you are being productive with HIS agenda. Thanks for sharing, and yes, keep me posted!


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