On Checklists, Control and Reality…

Checking it off the list
Whatever “it” is
That check mark equals success.

Controlling the pieces
Figuring out the outcomes

And then doing the next thing

Whatever “it” is

Touch it once
Organize it
Make a system
Work a plan
Manage your time
Fulfill the obligation
Execute the strategy

And then move on to the next thing

A+B always equals C, right?
Do the right thing and the truth will win
Show up and do your best and you’ll get the good result
Plan well and the details will happen

Check it off the list
(Crossing it off is even better)
Then make the new list, the next list, the next thing.
And success will follow

Until it doesn’t.
Until the dream flops
The idea goes down in flames
The results are not the anticipated outcome

Or worse yet, circumstances spin out
Unheard of tragedies occur
The unexpected strikes
The prayer goes unanswered
The pain explodes beyond what you have experienced before
The checklist falls to the side, useless
The control you thought you had turns out to be a façade
A farce
A useless exercise in futility in the face of real life

And you realize:
You have no control
You cannot produce the desired outcome
Make the people behave
Force the circumstances to align
Control the results
Or the stuff
The reactions
Or the consequences
Of anything
Or anyone
At any time
Or anywhere
Even if you are the one “in charge” of that area

Your checklist – my checklist – may be a useful tool for remembering, for managing the details
But it doesn’t drive the circumstances
Your organization and attention to detail may be beneficial to a point
But they don’t prevent the tragedy
They don’t shield you from the pain
They don’t keep you from experiencing the valleys

Face it, friend.
Face it, Kathy.
You have no control.
Never did.
Never will.

Yes, be smart about life.
Use your time wisely.
Consider your resources and do the best you can.
Be a good manager of what has been given to you.
But loosen your grip.
Go into every event, every circumstance, every day with the sure knowledge to you are not Sovereign.
You are not the King of the World.
You are not the Creator.
You are not the Good, Good Father.
And you do not sit on the throne.
If you do, it’s time to get off.
Once and for all.

Go into every event, every circumstance, every day with faith as the engine, fact as the car and feelings as the caboose.
Oozing with the grace you have been given.
Acting as a conduit for the love of God.
Not conjuring up your own emotion for the moment.
Not putting on the face you think they want to see.
Not even holding on to your intended goals or outcomes.
With your checklist of details to remember and items to be managed held very, very loosely in your hand.
Willing for it to flutter to the floor if necessary.

Go, knowing that you will be let down.
By people.
By equipment.
By outcomes.

But bringing what you have to the table anyway.
Taking the fives loaves and two fish of your life to your Master and allowing Him to break them.
Break your plans.
Break your dreams.
Break your desires.
Break the expected, anticipated, desired outcome.
Break even the thing you love the most.

Because in the breaking, comes the multiplying.
In the breaking comes the new beginning.
In the breaking comes the nourishment of all the others on the hillside with you.
Not because you are a great planner.
The Queen of Details.
The King of Getting the Job Done.
But because you are the servant of the King of the World.
The God who loved you enough to put one thing on His checklist:
“Make a way for the eternal restoration of humankind through the death, burial and resurrection of my one and only Son.”

In light of that, I have only one real checklist, the eternal one:
1. Be saved by grace.
“For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith”

2. And then walk in grace.
“And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].”

3. Letting Him write the details of the to-do list, holding my ideas, plans, desires and thinking very, very loosely.
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set]…”

4. And the walking with Him in the good life, the one that begins here but never really ends, even when this body is done.
“…so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Who is in control?
Not me.
Not you.
So take what has been entrusted to you and manage it well.
But yield control to the Only One who actually has it.
You’ll be glad you did.

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