The Tyranny of “To Do”

“It’s About Time,”©Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

It’s the dirty details that seem to plague my existence…

Dirty laundry.

Dirty dishes.

Dirty dog…it’s time for his bath.  Again.

Messy studio…

Muddy paint palette…

Seems like the daily list just gets done, and then, I must start all over again.   I’m sure you understand when I say that although I try to carve out time for dreaming, my life’s bucket list frequently gets swallowed up by the day’s duties.

Perhaps, that is the appeal of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.  After all, being a grown-up requires attention to the necessary yet frequently boring task of simple survival.  It isn’t always fun … and it definitely isn’t a game.

To be sure, in my experience, growing up requires a lot of dish washing.  And quite frankly, I’d rather commandeer Hook’s galleon with Peter Pan.

That’s probably why I stack my days so full.  I’m determined that the details won’t bog me down.  I dream of pixie dust, soaring over London, and settling in Neverland.

That’s right.  If I could have my way, I’d never wash a dirty dish again.

So I build my days the way I used to build blocks. The tower grows tall… my daily “to do” mounts higher and higher.

And just as when my big brother used to tease and pull a block from the center of my construction,  the unforeseen catches me off guard.

That’s right.  It all comes tumbling.

More often than I’d like to admit, my days fall apart with those shattered building blocks.

And in those moments, I feel a little like Charlie Brown staring at blue clouds after Lucy has pulled the football for the um-teenth time.

Life’s bucket list frequently gets displaced by the day’s duties.

It’s the little disasters that rattle me most.  In fact, for me,  little things frequently spell big trouble.

When the plates are stacked, it’s that “one more thing” that tips the balance:  plans crash.

I collect the broken pieces.

Sometimes, life is like that.  Daily details bury us.  We don’t have time for the unexpected events or criticism.  We stagger under the weight of the ever-accumulating small stuff.

To this, one biblical gal would likely add a hearty “Amen!”   In fact, as I’ve studied the life of Abraham, I’ve concluded that she often gets a bad rap.

After all, Hagar had an enormous “to do” list.  And her job description was already full when Sarai and Abram added a new role to her resume…

Hagar earned her keep as Sarai’s lady in waiting.  Because Abram’s sheep and cattle business flourished, Sarai could afford to have a maid.

And so Hagar certainly would have performed a great many jobs around Sarai’s household.  After all, a nomadic life isn’t easy.

But I imagine that Hagar’s mama probably encouraged Hagar to work for the wealthy man. With staccato rhythm, she may have advised, “It’s a good position.  You should take it.  A wealthy employer enables  job security.”

The Biblical record doesn’t tell us exactly how many years Hagar initially served, but we do know that Abram and Sarai had already lived in Canaan for ten years when Hagar is first mentioned.

Since we are told that Hagar was Egyptian, it seems likely that she joined Abraham and Sarah while they sojourned in Egypt, (Genesis 12: 10; 16:1).

After Egypt, Abram, Sarai and their nephew Lot had settled in the Dead Sea region around the city of Sodom;  thus, Hagar was a very long way from home.

Her life depended on the grace of her master and mistress.  Friends and family couldn’t help her.  If she were unhappy, there was no quick bus trip home.

I’m sure Hagar considered all of this when Sarai proposed her wild idea of providing Abram an heir with Hagar’s help. In addition to all her work as a servant in the household, Hagar would also become a surrogate mother.

Yes, her employers asked too much.  But Hagar was stuck.  People didn’t say “no” to the rich, powerful, and beautiful Sarai. And obviously Abram couldn’t refuse his wife.  He agreed to the plan, and Hagar was required to add new duties to her already long list.

Genesis says that when Hagar became pregnant, she “began to despise her mistress.”  Given the circumstances as well as a heavy workload, she had some reason for resentment.

Her employers asked too much.

Sarai obviously hadn’t considered her plans well. While insisting on the surrogate scheme, Sarai  failed to recognize Hagar’s humanity.  Although Hagar served Sarai, Hagar also had hopes and dreams.

In addition, as a servant, the pregnant Hagar would have continued to serve her mistress.  Exhausted? Stressed?  I suspect she was. And the circumstances of her pregnancy didn’t make things easy.

It isn’t surprising, then, that jealousy and resentment emerged on both sides.  Tensions began to build as Hagar’s pregnancy progressed. Little things festered.

Then, Sarai made her move. She pulled a critical piece from Hagar’s tower.

“Sarai said to Abram, ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering.  I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me…'” (Gen. 16:5).

Checkmate.

Actually, I must give Abram credit; he responded with incredible wisdom.  He didn’t argue or attempt to place blame.  He avoided taking sides in the women’s daily disputes.  He simply gave his wife permission to handle the situation.

Given that freedom, Sarai took strong action:  “Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her,”(Gen. 16:6).

Hagar crumbled.

But Hagar’s story reveals that Abba cares about our accumulating stress and often resulting mess.

He sees.

He knows.

He loves.

When the slow drip, drip of that irritating kitchen faucet finally spills over and becomes a rapidly rising flood, Abba gives grace.

That’s right. During that dark hour in Hagar’s life, Abba showed up in a big way.

He didn’t chastise, blame or lecture.  Instead, He asked, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”

During that dark hour in Hagar’s life, Abba showed up in a big way.

Of course, God knew the answer to the questions.  Yet, in asking, Abba recognizes Hagar’s misery and notes the practical concerns of her situation: she is a servant, pregnant and far from home.

There can be no doubt that God compassionately cared for Hagar.  Indeed, while He encouraged Hagar to return to her strained position with Sarai and Abraham, He did not leave Hagar without hope.

Even in the midst of the altogether daily stress, Abba made her a promise; God would not only provide for her but He would grant her dream as well.

Abba saw Hagar’s heartbreak.  And He is more than able to bring beauty from daily chaos. He blessed Hagar despite the mistakes of others.

For Hagar, Abba promised to make things right.  He said, “‘I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count,'” (Genesis 16:10).

And later, when Abraham succumbed to Sarah’s complaints and sent Hagar and Ishmael away, God provided for Hagar.

Indeed.  In the desert, when all her plans and life seemingly collapsed, Hagar met   El Roi, the “God who sees.”

He supplied even in the midst of chaos.

And yes, El Roi walks with us through the craziness that constitutes life’s daily difficulties.

Grace meets us in the desert.

When I consider Hagar, I recall Christ’s words, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

Hagar knew Abba’s loving care firsthand.  Her heavenly Father not only provided her daily bread, but He also blessed her dream.

Grace meets us in the desert.

For this reason, when my “to do” list grows astronomically, when my dreams overwhelm me, when an essential building block gets pulled from my best laid plans, I remember Hagar.  And I run to my heavenly Father who sees.

In fact, Abba has promised not only to provide my needs (Philippians 4:19) but also to bestow blessings (Psalm 67:7).  And His word never fails, (Isaiah 40:7).   Any doubt about it? Just ask Hagar.

True. You and I can’t see the future, and in life’s deserts, the present looks extremely bleak.  But faithful is He.

Without a doubt,  He makes all things beautiful in His time.

And Abba cares about every detail … our dreams as well as our daily bread.

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you,”~ Psalm 9:9-10

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; His love endures forever,” ~I Chronicles 16:34

66 Replies to “The Tyranny of “To Do””

  1. (As usual), I’m knocked out by your wonderfully woven truths. I’ve never even considered that angle before and yet you’ve brought it out, beautifully painted and perfectly visible.

    NB I LOVE the Clock Tower! WHERE is that? X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Warren… (As Usual) you are way too good to me! Thank you with all my heart! Your encouragement inspires me to continue blogging even when it feels like an overwhelming assignment from Abba! Thank you; thank you!

      As far as the clock tower goes… it is right here in my home town. The University of Mary Washington is here…it was modeled after the University of Virginia (designed by Thomas Jefferson) and it was the sister school to the University of Virginia. I am blessed to live in an extremely historic town. George Washington’s boyhood home is here in town as is his sister’s home. The home of a successful impressionist painter (contemporary to Monet and others) is here as well. I am truly grateful to live here… almost as wonderful as living in England. Almost. 😉 All the best to you, my wonderful friend! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hagar’s story really touched me a few years ago and has stayed strong still. I believe she is the first female and person the Spirit of the Lord or Angel of the Lord spoke to her. Like, she was preparing to die with her son, and He’s just like, “Now, now, take this handkerchief, wash your tears. It’s going to be okay. You have not been forsaken.”

    Great tie in with the “to-do” lists, I know we’ve talked about it in the past. Dishes one of the banes of my existence xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Hagar’s story really is powerful, isn’t it? So grateful for the tenderness of our all-powerful God! I love the way you describe it, dear TR! Thank you for your kind words! It means the world coming from a wonderful writer like you! And yes, dirty dishes and dirty laundry… seems like those chores are no sooner done than they must be completed again! Sigh … :-/ Love you, sweet friend! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Lynn. Strange how you can see something and yet not really see it. That’s what you did for me with Hagar. I’ll probably never view Hagar the same way again, thanks to you. Blessing my sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wow, Bruce! Thank you for sharing that with me! That absolutely means the world to me! So often, your posts provide such deep insight into Scripture and spiritual Truth! And I’m so grateful! It is honor that one of my posts would resonate so with you! Thank you again and again for your kind words, my brother! God bless you big time, Bruce! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Waoooo! I have never thought of this story this way. Gosh Lynn, you have a thing you do with writing that I haven’t seen anyone here do. You are gifted! You carried me along in this story and for once I saw this in a better picture. Thanks Sis!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Efua… thank you with all my heart! You have encouraged me more than you can possibly imagine! I’m truly grateful to God that He leads and guides us so graciously! I know that is true of your wonderful blog! I see His wisdom in your writing again and again! Love you, dear Sis! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi sis. Thanks again for this post. I was going to do a post this week on another name of God for my ongoing series. I will be doing El Roi. Am I ok to reference your post please?🙂

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  5. Very True my dear Lynn, life can present many obstacles and problems, yes we can feel drained but Jesus Understands when we have a Heavy Load to carry, as confirmed in the Scripture below and as you shared Lynn our Abba Father indeed Cares….

    He Sees.

    He Knows.

    He Loves.

    2Corinthians1:3-5 Blessed be God The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of Mercies and the God of all Comfort, who Comforteth us in all our Tribulation that we may be able to Comfort them which are in any trouble by the Comfort wherewith we ourselves are Comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

    Matthew 11:28 – 30 Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you Rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me for I Am Meek and Lowly in Heart and ye shall find Rest unto your Souls. For My yoke is Easy and my burden is Light.

    I’m sorry Lynn, I haven’t visited your Blog recently of course your Adopted Mum still cares but I had another Accident on my Mobility Scooter which has been presenting problems, I was taken to Hospital but I’m feeling a lot better, I recovered very quickly although I’m bruised and still sore but only moderately, nothing was broken.

    A wonderful thing happened Lynn while I was lying on the concrete in acute pain with the Mobility Scooter on top of me, a young couple came to try and help, they had just come from their Church and I was Lovingly Prayed for before the Ambulance came to take me to Hospital, so yes even in my pain I felt God’s Peace and Reassurance.

    Christian Love Always dear Lynn,
    from your – Annie Mum.

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    1. Oh, Annie… I’m so very sorry to hear this!! I wish I had been there to ride in the ambulance with you and help however I could! I’m so grateful that that lovely couple stayed to pray with you! Praying for your healing and for your health overall! Love and huge hugs!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you Lynn for your Compassion, you are a beautiful caring daughter I too wish you had been there but I know in Spirit you are now and I feel comforted.

        I have been replying in detail to some Comments on my Blog but I will be seeking to visit you dear Lynn when you Post again and also respond to more of your other resent Messages but until than God Bless you greatly as you Bless others from you Heart of Love.

        Christian Love in Christ Jesus – Anne. ( Annie Mom).

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      2. Oh, not to worry, dear Annie Mom! I know you have a great many people who love and rely upon you! And I know that you must take care of your health right now! I continue to pray daily for you. You are such a blessing and I am delighted to hear from you whenever it is possible for you. But please know that I fully understand that that isn’t always possible as your health right now has put some limitations on your activity. Love you much! ❤ and hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Lynn, so precious are the insights the Lord gives you into HIs Word. How blessed we are that you share them with us. Dishwashing as a chlld was never pleasant, but it was part of my training for my many years as a caregiver for members of my family. Like Hagar and Paul in whatever circumstance, the Lord’s presence makes the duties a joy. Hagar enjoyed God’s presence, even though our Lord was forsaken on the cross; so that we would never be left alone. Blessings 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes… you are so right, dear Frances! Thank you for adding your wisdom here! How beautiful your thoughts regarding Hagar! And thank you with all my heart for your kind words regarding my post! It means the world to me. Love to you, my friend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh how the LORD does take care of those little birdies doesn’t HE?! And how much more HE cares for us too. Yes, for me all my daily chores stack up and I would much rather be writing or just sitting with the LORD. I guess, the more we have, the more we have to care for. I once wrote a post entitled: First, make your Bed. My point of it was that if you did that first and got to nothing else that day, in the light of eternity, it really doesn’t matter if some things are left undone. Never neglect anything for your soul Lynn……never!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Maxine! It has been a week of decision-making and thus, deep prayer for wisdom regarding priorities. As a result, your kind words of encouragement couldn’t have come at a better time! God bless you, my sweet, wise and wonderful sister!! ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful comparison as always, Lynn. How God watched over and gave hope to Hagar always comforts me. Yes, He sees, He knows, He loves. I love how Abba cares about every detail of our lives! Love and hugs to you!

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  9. A beautifully written message, as always, and a timely one this week as I have juggled many unplanned activities and have seen my to-do list of wants and needs almost entirely left undone! God always supplies what we need and what is best, even if we don’t recognize it at the time. I am thankful that God brings you such insight into his word and so very thankful that you listen and share it with us. It always brings joy to see a new post of yours in my inbox…even when I am not able to read it right away. Love you so much. XO ❤❤❤

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    1. Amen, dearest Vicki! I’m so grateful that God supplies what we need! Whatever would we do without Him? I don’t even want to imagine it. 🙂 Thank you for your truly kind words and encouragement, Vicki! Your thoughtfulness means the world to me and you have truly made my day! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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