“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
– Colossians 3:16-17
I decided to zero out my e-mail inbox the first week of 2022. I’m one of those people who has about 12,000 unread e-mails, so this was a huge undertaking. I spent hours deleting spam, printing important documents, unsubscribing from e-mail subscriptions, and deleting random e-mails I wasn’t sure why I had kept in the first place.
When my inbox was finally at zero, I celebrated. I took a screenshot and shared it with my friends. I felt accomplished for about five minutes, and then I got another email. And another. And another. Within a week, I had over 100 unread emails, almost all of it spam. Despite hours of intentional effort, I could not stay on top of the avalanche of e-mails that kept coming in.
My never-ending inbox is a microcosm of much of the work in my life, and maybe it seems familiar to you, too. You might finish a task on Monday, only to come into the office with more of the same to do on Tuesday. You do the laundry on Friday, and by Friday night you have enough dirty clothes in the house to run another load. You add three items to the to-do list for every one you cross off. It can feel overwhelming and demoralizing.
“In a world where so much of the work we do has no discernible end point, it is more important than ever to celebrate the small stuff.”
In a world where so much of the work we do has no discernible end point, it is more important than ever to celebrate the small stuff. The inbox may not be empty, but we made progress organizing it. The yard might still need mowed, but the weeding of the flowerbeds looks fantastic. There might be weeks left in the semester, but today’s classes went well. Pausing to celebrate the work of our hands is a way of giving praise to the God who has called us to these tasks. Appreciation and celebration can be acts of worship in the midst of the drudgery of the daily grind.
For Lent, as I continue the work of giving up busyness, I am trying to live into the challenge of Colossians 3:17. What would it look like to do the endless, mundane tasks of life in the name of Jesus? How might I give thanks to God as I answer phone calls, work on tedious projects, or make headway on a task only to become buried under it once again? I am learning to lean into the second half of verse 17: “giving thanks to God the Father through .”
“…giving ourselves space to celebrate what we’ve done is an opportunity to give thanks to God and to encourage ourselves to keep going.”
We may not be able to finish everything on our list. Or, we might finish the list only to make a new list in the morning. Whatever the case may be, giving ourselves space to celebrate what we’ve done is an opportunity to give thanks to God and to encourage ourselves to keep going. As we draw near to the cross and the empty tomb, may we have the peace to know that even when we can’t finish all our tasks, Jesus said, “It is finished,” and that’s what counts.
Prayer: Lord, so many of the things I do everyday are endless. I finish one project only to have two more pop up in its place. Help me to slow down and appreciate the small victories. Give me the courage to give up busyness, not just for Lent, but for life. Amen.