I’ve always been an accomplishment-oriented person. I prided myself in knowing what to do, having my to-do list all prioritized, with the most important tasks highlighted, circled, or written in large print. I’d zip around town, stopping here and there, knocking off the “minors” while on my way to accomplish another “major.”

Some years back, I even designed my own Daily Planner Card—a small card printed on card stock that fits in my shirt pocket. I carry it with me and start a new one every day. In the past few years I’ve used these cards as part of a time-management seminar I’ve taught.

I used to spend much of my quiet time with God with pencil and daily planner in hand, writing down the multitude of things I needed to do. I usually came out of my “quiet time” with my prioritized plan of action, champing anxiously at the bit, ready to tackle the day. Getting my plan for the day constituted a big part of my personal time with God.

But some time back, something short-circuited my entire modus operandi. I found myself in a prolonged situation where it wasn’t really humanly possible for me to accomplish all that there was to do. My daily to-do lists were far too long with too many variables; there were too many priorities and way too many other stresses. To top things off, I was physically exhausted.

My situation was so overwhelming, in fact, that I really couldn’t think about a to-do list. All I wanted was to be close to God. I knew that only He could satisfy my soul and still the raging storm. It was at this point that I experienced what Jesus described in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” 1

I realized for the first time that Jesus doesn’t want my to-do list, nor does He even want me to let Him be the author of my to-do list. He wants me to abide in Him, being nourished by His Word.

I still have and make to-do lists, but not with the same intensity. It’s no longer top priority. Touching Jesus is my top priority. Often that’s when I hear the faintest of whispers to my soul, usually about matters that are important to God. If my head and spirit are too crammed with my own thoughts, I might not hear those whispers and might miss something that’s a must-do on God’s to-do list.

  1. John 15:5 NLT, emphasis added