September 07, 2017
Every morning, even before I get out of bed, I’m attacked by a herd of wild animals. These familiar beasts are my own thoughts that squawk and sputter, howl, growl, and caterwaul about what I HAVE TO do that day. They say: “Gregg, you HAVE TO write that report by 3:00 p.m. You HAVE TO be lead two meetings this morning and you HAVE TO look like you know what you’re doing. You HAVE TO make it to Jewel before 5:00.”
Perhaps you have a similar herd of wild beasts that resides next to your bedside?
We are frequently overwhelmed by the number of tasks in life that we HAVE TO do. The spiritual danger of all these HAVE TOs is that it puts our lives firmly in the kingdom of obligation. And in the kingdom of obligation, the native language is that of complaints and grumbling. This isn’t the kingdom God would have for us.
Two things help me survive the daily wild-animal attack of my own thoughts. The first is simply to pray before doing anything else: “God, the gift of this day is good. Lead me into what truly matters. Lead me into life!” Or better yet, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Redeem me, O God of truth!”
The second thing is harder to pin down. What I’m presently trying to do is intentionally move as many tasks and activities from the HAVE TO column in my mind to the GET TO column. As in: I GET TO wash the dishes tonight as a way of doing my part for my family. I GET TO shop for groceries that most folks on the planet can only dream of having available. I GET TO go to an imperfect-but-amazing job for five full days this week. I GET TO practice the piano!
Doesn’t this sound brutally naive to our cynical ears? And yet, this is the kind of spiritual posture God would have us lean into. We GET TO live the life given us. Nothing more, nothing less.
When we GET TO enjoy all the glorious mediocrity of our little lives, we locate ourselves firmly within the kingdom of gratitude.
And in the kingdom of gratitude, the native language is that of thanks and praise. “Sing a new song to the Lord” the
Psalms instruct us, again and again. We get to sing. We get to pay attention to the newness stirring with us. We get to reach up. We get to grow deeper within. We get to go out into new adventures.
As all the newness of the fall season meets us and invites us, and possibly obligates us, what can you move from the HAVE TO column to the GET TO column?
Or another way of phrasing this same question in a more inviting way: What delightful things to you GET TO DO as this new season begins?