Taking Charge From the One in Charge

A notebook with a to-do list

March 26, 2024

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD.” Roy and I didn’t have to remind ourselves of the truth embedded in Psalms 127:3 ESV. We were thrilled when we realized we were expecting our first baby. We immediately set to work outlining everything we had to accomplish to turn our aging home into a House Beautiful setting perfect for a newborn.

To-do lists are my specialty. I’m a planner. And in those days, I was a woman who believed that if I planned for every possible contingency, everything would be perfect. I would leave nothing to chance. Yes, I would plan down to the smallest detail, forgetting nothing, so that every item on my list would be crossed off before the baby’s due date.

I admit, the list was long. Our home featured its original plumbing, electrical and heating systems, and decor – and time hadn’t been their friend. I knew one thing above all else: drywall dust, stacks of lumber, and wallpaper hanging from the ceiling would not be ideal conditions for the homecoming of our precious newborn baby.

Between work, spare-time construction, and restoration chores, we attended baby showers and Lamaze sessions and read all the baby books we could find. We worked hard, and I regularly consulted my list of chores, calculating that all would be done in time if we faithfully stuck to our schedule. I memorized all the names of paint swatches before choosing a warm neutral yellow (back in the days before gender reveals). I studied layette options, homecoming outfits, and necessary nursery accessories. Yes, I had everything planned down to the tiniest detail. This would be a perfect beginning for our new baby’s life.

But then, God proved me wrong. Our baby announced his arrival weeks before his planned due date – weeks before my to-do list was completed.

“No! The baby can’t be coming now! It’s too early. We’re not ready!” I wailed as Roy bundled me into our car. Shocked that things weren’t going precisely as we planned, we rushed to the hospital. Only months later would I recall the words of Proverbs 16:9 ESV, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”

After fourteen very long hours of labor, when Jason finally entered the world, our relief was short-lived. Complications required us to stay hospitalized longer than we expected. Once that shock wore off, I worried about the unfinished nursery – but visions of that picture-perfect photo layout in the House Beautiful publication quickly faded as the doctors told us about our baby boy’s complications. God’s plan was infinitely superior to mine.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 ESV.

However, God wasn’t done with His mighty work. Unbeknownst to me, Uncle Ray took charge of the nursery renovations while I was hospitalized. He was a man of few words but mighty works. More than a skilled wood artisan, he was a skilled craftsman of the heart.

Many people might not associate my slightly disheveled, drywall-dust-covered uncle as an angel – but I know otherwise. Hebrews 1:14 ESV describes Uncle Ray better than I can: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” He poured his heart into transforming Jason’s nursery, working tirelessly until the room was perfect for the tiniest member of our family. And me.

When I returned home from the hospital clutching our very dear baby in my arms, Uncle Ray and his son Tom welcomed us home with a massive banner proclaiming, “Welcome Home, Jason! (And Mommy, too).” I recognized the “tongue from the LORD” in that message. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:37 ESV.) Whether or not he knew Saint Francis of Assisi’s advice, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words, if necessary,” Uncle Ray embodied that way of life. God was his master Builder, and my uncle believed in building a solid foundation, just as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24 ESV; “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

I’d like to say that I learned a mighty lesson once and for all – but I can’t. When the dust (literally) had settled, I returned to my never-ending-to-do lists, and the feeling of being overwhelmed, just too much to do, gripped me once again.

I spent too many years writing those to-do lists trying to take charge rather than seeking God, the One in charge, before the proverbial lightbulb finally clicked on! God loves me just as I am, and I didn’t need the world’s acclaim to validate me.

Nowadays, I still create to-do lists, but they’re not long, and they always begin with “Time to walk and talk with the Lord.” I’ve learned to untangle the tangled thoughts – and to-do lists – that held me hostage and discover the life I was meant to live according to God’s plans and purpose.

Philippians 4:8 has become a life verse, a reminder of what is truly admirable and where my focus should be. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Let’s put those qualities on our perpetual to-do list. Enjoy a state of be-ing a Child of God, be-ing blessed with young children in our homes, and be-ing able to witness God at work in our lives and our families. Abandon the urge for do-ing. Let’s put into practice what God has taught us. He’s the One in charge.

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  1. Jackie, I love the article!!! As you stated, we must allow our God and his work to take first place in our lives always. It’s so easy to become complacent and allow “our wants/needs” come first. Uncle Ray was a perfect example of a godly man who would see a need and act….expecting no “thanks or acclaim” for his actions!!!! PS …..he loved you more than words can say!!!! 💖💖 🙏

    • I know how much we meant to each other. Wasn’t the Saint Francis of Assisi quote a perfect fit for Uncle Ray? “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words, if necessary.”