The Listmaker

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O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  – Psalm 63:1

Whenever my daughter, Jaime, and her family drove from South Carolina for an extended family visit, this mama and grandma got in gear weeks before, making my all-important lists: housecleaning lists, grocery lists, lists of deadlines and other writing-related work that needed to be completed before and during her stay. 

My plan was to have only one list while she’s here, with only one item: “enjoy the chaos and the fun.” 

In the rush to get everything done, I skipped my daily quiet time. I gulped my morning hot tea as I flit from chore to chore. It was iced tea by the time I finished it. 

But the more I crossed off my lists, the more frenzied I became. Whatever happened to my “slow down, pace myself, and enjoy life” philosophy?

It was gone with an earthquake, wind, and fire of my own making. 

“I miss you, God,” I whispered one morning, ignoring the urge to grab my Bible and my cup of tea and head to the back deck and leave behind the list of devotional readings and prayer lists so it would be just me and God. 

But I couldn’t. 

Lists – do they serve me – or do I serve them?

Jesus was crazy busy too. But the Son of God took time out to go on a mountain or to a quiet place like a garden before the crowds showed up, before the disciples stirred from their beds on the ground, before the world awakened. He took no devotional books with Him, not even a scroll of Scripture. It was just Jesus and God. In communion with each other. Talking and listening. 

Why do I think I need anything more than me when I approach God?

Because I feel naked without my lists. I hide from Him behind my Scripture reading for the day, behind the devotionals written by others, behind the lists of prayer requests. I rush through the readings, checking them off the quiet time list so I can get to that all-important work list. 

I can face the earthquake, the wind, and the fire, but I’m afraid of the whisper. 

But I feel empty. It’s like gulping a cup of tea without taking time to savor its essence and inhale its aroma. Or shoving food in my mouth and swallowing without tasting each unique flavor that begs to be enjoyed. 

My friend Kathy Bolduc takes her Bible, her journal, and her cup of tea to a place where she can be alone and observe God in creation around her. Then she reads a portion of Scripture slowly, savoring every word, meditating on God’s message and how it applies to her. 

If a hectic schedule or fatigue causes her to miss a day, she doesn’t have the stress of a catch-up list. She simply meets with the God who is waiting for her. 

He’s waiting for me, too. 

Give me the courage to shed the lists that I hide behind, Lord. Only then will I hear Your whisper. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 63:1–8; 1 Kings 19:8–13

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Venting Problems

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. —James 1:19 NIV

When we bought our camper, an RV refrigerator didn’t come with it. The sellers had installed a refrigerator that ran only on electricity. Since we planned to do a lot of traveling, we needed one that ran on either electricity or propane gas. We found a used one at an RV place near Raystown Lake, only a two-hour drive, for a reasonable price. 

But when we brought it home and installed it, the freezer worked, but the refrigerator compartment didn’t. My husband, fix-it guy extraordinaire, reasoned the problem was the refrigerator wasn’t getting enough ventilation. Which was why the previous owner had installed a 4-inch fan on the back, which we took off because we didn’t think we needed it. 

We tested Dean’s ventilation theory the first weekend we camped out in the yard. Dean hung a 20-inch box fan on the outside of the camper where the access door for the refrigerator compartment was. 

It worked! 

But when he slid the refrigerator out for the umpteenth time and re-attached the fan, it kept blowing fuses. After a week of frustration, he removed the fan and tested it with his volt-meter tester thing.

“It’s junk,” he said, tossing the fan on the table. Back he went to the camper.

Now, my husband refuses to let a stubborn problem get the best of him. He searches for a solution long after I would have said, “Nuts with it.” 

It wasn’t long before he returned to the house, grinning. 

“I found the problem,” he said, dropping a thick slab of Styrofoam on the table beside the useless fan. “This was in the roof vent over the refrigerator compartment.”

Apparently when the camper’s previous owners had the electric refrigerator installed, the Styrofoam was inserted in the vent for whatever reason. 

The refrigerator’s working great now. It just needed to vent.

Like me. 

At times, I need to vent, too, or I’ll get too hot and say or do something I later regret.

I remember a woman whose anger was directed at me one time, saying in lieu of an apology, “Once I vent and get it all out, I’m just fine.”

“So does a volcano,” I said, “but look at the damage it causes.”

We all need to vent. We’re flawed human beings with emotions that can get out of control at times. Tears are one way to vent. I call them the release valve the Creator installed to relieve built-up pressure. Physical activity, such as running or, for me, cleaning, is another. 

But we have to be careful of how we vent, when and where we vent, and to whom we vent. 

I used to have a terrible temper. Throwing things, slamming doors and drawers, and screaming were my methods of venting. Not very pretty. I’m ashamed of how I behaved.

But God has taught me a better way to vent: prayer – and lots of it. 

I’ve learned there isn’t a thing in our lives that He doesn’t care about — from the big, life-changing events to the small stuff, like an RV refrigerator that just needs to vent. 

Thank You, Lord, for being there when I need to vent. Amen.

Read and reflect on James 1:19–25.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.