I like lists. In particular, I always go to the grocery store with a list. I know plenty of people that can shop without one, but not me. If I don’t have a list, I end up coming home with a bunch of random stuff, none of which works together to make a meal. That’s quite a predicament when you’re trying to feed a family of five.
I keep other lists, too. I keep a list of things that need to get done around the house. And places I want to go. And books I want to read.
I have two lists that are like dueling sisters. They always force me to choose between the two of them. The first is Feel Like Doing. She likes me to sleep in, watch TV, eat cake, that type of thing. She is demanding and super high maintenance.
Feel Like Doing gets so jealous when she sees me spending time with her dutiful sister, Need To Do. When me and Need To Do are taking care of business, doing things like reading our Bible, sticking to our exercise plan, making goals, meal planning and keeping the house in working order, Feel Like Doing is always there in the background, trying to lure me away.
“An extra hour of sleep won’t hurt,” she says.
“Eat what you want. You deserve it.”
“You’re just too tired to do anything right now.”
“Tend to that other stuff later. Let’s just relax, you and me.”
If I’m honest, sometimes I’m extra focused and Need To Do gets most of my attention. But other times, Feel Like Doing and her smooth talking win me over, and I throw up my hands and hope that tomorrow’s a better day.
Sometimes my decisions and how I spend my time are governed by nothing more than what I feel like doing at the moment.
Can you relate?
It’s always so interesting to hear and see the social climate right before a new year begins. Everyone is focused and reflective, looking forward to the prospect of a new beginning and a fresh start. People talk about recalibrating and having the best, most productive year yet.
When January 1 hits, the gym is full of people determined to make their fitness goals a reality. Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig make a killing from those of us looking to get our eating habits back on track after an overindulgent holiday season.
And we’ve got high hopes that this will be the year of the flourishing prayer life and vibrant Bible study sessions we’ve been hoping for.
But after a few months, all of that “take over the world” talk trails off quite dramatically. We have these lofty goals but when we go to accomplish them, we are confronted with the fact that it’s hard!
Things don’t go as we planned. Hiccups and annoyances arise in areas that we thought would be smooth sailing.
We get discouraged. We let things that are said and done to us deter us from doing what we’d set out to do. The people that we thought would support us do quite the opposite.
We get sick. The funding for our big project falls through. Whatever the reason, we just don’t have the desire that we once did.
So we resolve to spend more time with Feel Like Doing to make life a little easier on ourselves.
But that game plan isn’t going to work either. Sooner or later, we all come to realize that a life led by feelings alone is an unfulfilled life.
Think about Esau in Genesis 25. He is so exhausted after working in the fields that he sells his birthright in exchange for a bowl of stew. A birthright is the unique privileges and blessings given to the firstborn son. To say that the birthright was valuable is an understatement. It was meant to be viewed as something special, honored and a sacred sign of favor from God Himself.
And Esau willingly traded it in for a bowl of soup.
But why? Why would Esau offer up something so valuable in exchange for something that would be gone in a matter of minutes?
The answer isn’t overly deep or super spiritual. He was exhausted. He allowed his decisions to be governed by his feelings, which caused him to downplay what was truly important and honorable.
Have you and I not done this a time or two? Every time we choose Feel Like Doing over Need To Do, we choose temporary pleasure over lasting impact, and we liken ourselves to Esau, coming in famished from the field.
No one sets out to leave their life’s purpose unfulfilled. Few people intend to squander the gifts, talents and abilities that God has graciously given them. But this is precisely what happens when we live lives characterized by Feel Like Doing rather than Need To Do.
We swindle ourselves out of reaching our God-given potential when we allow discouragement, laziness, or even fear to deter us from doing those things that God has called us to do.
And we’ve got a little unwanted help in campaigning for a Feel Like Doing life from the enemy.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – I Peter 5:8
That all sounds rather dramatic, no? As if the devil will come busting in your house with a blunt object, looking for a good fight.
But many times, his methods are much more subtle, like wooing you to spend all your time with Feel Like Doing so you forsake Need To Do. He hopes he can distract you and divert your attention, so much so that you will eat, sleep, and recreate yourself out God’s plans and purposes for your life.
Don’t give him the satisfaction. You and I were made for more. Let’s live up to it.