Garlic. Dishwasher detergent. Eggs.
Wipes. Snacks. Extra outfit.
Unload dishwasher. Scoop litter. Pick up toys.
These are the grocery, diaper bag, and to-do lists that are a steady stream in my mom brain. As I scurry about the house, I’m always thinking of the next thing (or the next three things) that I need to do.
And as a work-from-home mom, it seems like these lists are never ending. Laundry, crossed off today’s list, will surely appear on tomorrow’s list. And if I’m not careful, these lists can be an end to themselves.
It’s easy for me to live my day for the perfectly checked off list, to measure my success by my productivity. And with this goal in mind, my day revolves around my planner.
But a quote from Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, The Gospel Comes with a House Key, made me question my focus on these lists: “My lists are not set in stone; they are set in grace.”
I realized that my heart was beginning to love and to find worth in these lists; my identity was defined by my list. Now, lists are a gift of God, I believe. He is a God of order, and He rejoices when His children rightly use the organizational tools He created us to have as image bearers. But I realized I was worshipping my lists. My emotion, my success, and my attitude all depended on the progress of my list.
Meditation determines worship
How did this come about? I believe, it’s because our worship is determined by our meditation. What rules our minds will ultimately rule our hearts. I would wake up every day and begin my list:
Make breakfast. Load dishwasher. Do quiet time.
At every moment in the day, these little lists were in the back of my head, reminding me of my purpose. It told me my purpose was to get things done. My success was measured by my efficiency. My worth was in my work.
So the good gift of order God gave me became an idol in my heart. All because my mind was focused on lists, instead of God.
When God revealed this idol of my heart, I wondered how I could change. It’s not a vice that can be completely avoided (going into a grocery store without a list is dangerous business!). So how could I replace my love of lists and control with a greater love of God? By changing the way we think.
Renewing our minds
What we think about reveals what we worship. That’s why Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 that the key to worshipping God in our everyday lives is to renew our mind:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
By changing what we meditate on, we change what we worship. Paul says it a different way in his letter to the church at Collosae: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
If we want to seek Christ, we have to change what we’re thinking. We have to “set” our minds on him.
To set our minds on something is not a phrase that is used frequently in our modern conversation. So what does it mean? In this context, it means “to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for.” We set our minds on something when we intentionally and consistently bring it to mind. Just like in the morning I would point myself to my planner, I can point myself to the Word of God.
One way I have practically done this is to replace my lists of three with a different list repeated throughout Paul’s epistles: faith, hope, and love. When I’m washing the dishes, changing a diaper, pumping gas, or whatever other mundane tasks where my mind is free, I think to myself, “How am I acting in faith in Christ’s sacrifice? How am I hoping for eternity today? How am I loving God and my neighbors today?”
It may not be that verse, but you can choose today to put aside those things that clutter our mind and meditate on the words of God. Psalms 119:15 says, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” And as you meditate, God will change your affections and your actions according to His word.