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Taking Care of Busyness

I don’t know how much time I have. I just know for sure that it is limited. As I zoomed past another decade mark a few months ago, I didn’t need a statistician to tell me I have less time left. But some days I just let a flurry of things keep me busy, mostly good things. Being retired seems to give us the idea we have all the time in the world, so we say “yes” to lots of things, and then we are always busy. Well, I have fallen into that trap, too. I am happy that I am able to work, to travel, to volunteer for good things. Besides that, we want to keep in touch with our grandchildren, kids, friends, and so on. The result is busy-ness. Like others have said, I wonder how I ever had time to have a full time job.

Some days I get distracted into checking out everybody on Facebook or reading endless accounts of the news. And that’s enough to give me indigestion. So I have a habit. I make lists. I use them to remind myself of those things I really want to do sometime this week, this month, this year, or today. Most days I re-do my current list and add or cross off things I finished. The list includes all sorts of things, house maintenance, ministry items like “prep for meeting.” It could include “practice new songs on guitar” or “go fishing” or “call ____ about plans for birthday.” Then, to help plan my day, I mark the items “A, B, or C” and even number them in order of preference or urgency. Of course, I seldom make a list on Sunday morning.

I have a long-term list, too. These are things I really do want to accomplish, but are bigger jobs that will take longer, perhaps spread over several weeks or months. For example, I have lots of old family photos I want to scan, digitize and create a family history album with captions and comments. If I don’t do that, a lot of knowledge about them will be lost. I also have a box full of poems written by Richard Jansma, a friend of mine who died 30 years ago. I want to edit them into a book or make them available in some form. I’m also writing stories about some of my ancestors for our children and grandchildren. Again, I want to share their stories, something of their life adventures that I know about which will be lost unless I do this.

Next to these well-ordered goals, I have daily opportunities. I need to let holy interruptions take me away from my lists. Perhaps I can connect up with a neighbor who has a problem and doesn’t talk to anyone about it. That’s important, too. But there is one thing I know for sure, I want to keep doing the things that really matter. Mine will be different from yours. But life is really worth living when I use my time for the best purposes. My lists help me pay attention to what's important. It’s about stewardship of time and energy.

The final benefit that comes from making lists? I have the satisfaction of marking off things I did get done or enjoyed. That makes me smile because my lists are like good friends just helping me along to a satisfying life. I don’t want to just be busy. I want to make the most of my time and “run the race with perseverance” (Hebrews 12:1). That’s what I want to do.

Copyright 2019 Stanley Hagemeyer

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