I sat staring at my computer screen one day as it spun and spun, trying to open files and internet browsers. After a couple of crashes, I ran some cleanup tools, and then I was able to start working. But those extra issues turned a one-hour project into a more than four-hour project. I had barely made a dent in everything I needed to do that day, and it left me frustrated.
Now that my kids are older, the family has entered a season of busyness like we’ve never experienced before. Even though we limit activities, the calendar is bursting. Between the children’s commitments, my husband’s and my commitments, work, and school, last fall I was overwhelmed. The number of activities wasn’t what overwhelmed me. It was a lack of accomplishment, which was happening more and more.
As my to-do list grew and grew, not many items were being checked off—and checking items off my list gives me great joy. I was spinning my wheels much like that annoying icon on my computer screen. I felt like I was in a continuous state of go; constantly working, but not seeing results. Something had to give.
During this time of so much to do, I made a schedule to get things done and followed it, and yet I also made a point of being flexible since even perfectly laid plans can fail. That helped, but I still felt stress. Then I saw a post from someone on social media, someone with a great deal on her plate and only one week in which to accomplish it. She posted a prayer: “Lord, please magnify my efforts.”
That simple statement really struck me. Magnify my efforts.
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (NIV). I often cite this verse when I’m explaining the importance of hard work to my students and my children. Philippians 4:13 is another verse I use to describe how we can work through the hard stuff. I truly believe the Lord cares about every little thing in our lives, but for some reason I left my to-do list out of that equation.
I pride myself on being a strong and independent woman, but even the strongest and most independent of us need the Lord. We are nothing without him. We are not enough. While I was agonizing over my to-do lists and deadlines, I never once took my efforts to the Lord—until I saw that post.
I took another look at my list and prayed. I prayed for energy, dedication, discernment—and magnification. “Lord, magnify my efforts,” I whispered anytime stress and overwhelm threatened. “Lord, I need you. Please magnify my efforts. Help me accomplish what needs to be done, and help me release what doesn’t.”
Don’t be a slave to your to-do list. Yes, lists are great to reach your goals and not shirk your responsibilities, but those tasks should not rule your life. Pray about what goals and responsibilities are priorities, and focus on the Lord throughout the day. Your prayers don’t have to be long or eloquent; just let the Lord in. He’ll help you accomplish all you need to do, and he’ll help you let go of the unimportant tasks that can clutter up your day.
Let the Lord magnify your efforts.
Photograph © Evran Jawad, used with permission