by Joel Bates
Oh, those days when you wish you could get just one thing accomplished! Just one thing, but no matter how hard you try, everything works against you. You know what I mean! I like to think that I am flexible, but some days I wake up with an agenda fueled by the pressure to succeed, to achieve, and to win, even if my victories are paltry offerings. That morning, I awoke with the pressures that C.S. Lewis describes in Mere Christianity, “All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice…” But I couldn’t set them aside, couldn’t really hear the “other voice.”
I had the day mapped out. I would finish the annual report, complete the next step in building the climbing wall, and call some prospective interns. Every item seemed really important. Then, when I got off work, I was going to get my taxes done and finish a little dry walling project that I’d neglected for months. My daughter had a term paper that she wanted me to proofread, and I was to help Caleb work on a poetry piece—again, good and important stuff. Then I arrived in the office.
Logan awaited as I walked in two minutes late and immediately announced, “We need to talk.” His tone indicated my plans were about to be aborted. “There’s this bus,” he began. “It’s a good deal, and I really think we should try to purchase it for the camp.” He sat at his desk looking at me with hope and longing. You see, Logan has a soft spot in his heart for old, forlorn, unwanted, used vehicles. In a way, he sort of runs a vehicle orphanage! Actually, it’s more like a rest home. And, because we see old vehicles to their final resting places, he was certainly right about our needing a new bus.
“There’s just one little problem,” Logan continued. I looked at him blankly. “The bus is two hours away...and I need you to go with me.”
“Logan, I have all these tasks on my list, and they’re so near completion. I needed to finish something!” I protested.
“Well, you can help me finish the hunt for a new bus,” Logan reminded.
Getting a bus was not what I had in mind, but I couldn’t deny DM’s need. It was just two hours away. Okay, if we left immediately, we could get there, get the bus, and get back by lunchtime. Even if it were a late lunch, but I would still have the second half of the day to finish my tasks, and I could add acquiring an old bus to the list of accomplishments.
“Grab the keys!” I said. “Let’s do this.”
About halfway there, I thought, “Why didn’t I bring my daughter’s paper to proof?” I would have to do it later. Then Logan’s phone rang. The lady selling the bus was calling as an afterthought to inform us that the vehicle had a lien on the title! I gave Logan a hard look when he told me. He shrugged his shoulders, and we kept driving.
We got there and discovered that the bus was no better than our current rig, maybe worse! We noted torn seats, a hood that wouldn’t open, and an odometer reading nearly 50,000 miles more than reported. Logan and I met behind the bus.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“I don’t like it.”
Logan looked at the ground, “Me neither,” he admitted. “Sorry…it was a long way to come.”
It was unfortunate. All the lost time was difficult, but the cost of not finishing my other stuff made it a hard price to pay. Then Logan remembered a used bus salesman in the area.
“Do you have time to look at his supply?” Logan asked.
We’d already invested the time, so I conceded, and we drove onward. The sales yard had lots of buses, and even one we really liked, but the salesman was busy with prior engagements and couldn’t see us until after lunch. My schedule was totally ruined now! However, after a hasty lunch and a couple of test-drives, we were ready to plunk the money down, buy a bus, and head home. However, the salesman informed us that he would have to get the bus inspected and ready for commercial highway use. We could buy the bus but couldn’t take it with us till next week!
Late in the day, Logan and I wearily pulled into the DM parking lot empty-handed. I had awakened with great expectations of accomplishing so much, but had accomplished nothing. As Logan grabbed his coat to head home for the day, he paused outside my office. “Thanks for being willing to help me get a bus,” he said. “I’ve been so worried about replacing our old one. It puts my mind at ease, knowing we’ve got a plan.”
“No problem.” I smiled thinly, trying to conceal my sense of personal failure that at the day’s end I had finished nothing. Then from the far reaches of my spirit, came a remembrance of God. He’s a Finisher, you know. Like at creation…the scripture says He made everything in six days and then rested. He didn’t leave trees half done, animals partly thought out, or man a pile of skin and dust, something to come back to later. No, He saw it through.
Then there was the cultivation of a nation that would be His people. Drawing them out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land, He taught them how to build a government, a system of worship, and a fighting spirit. That first generation cowered before the waters of the Red Sea and later despaired at facing the giants in Canaan, complaining that it would have been better to die as slaves in Egypt. The Lord did complete his work, though…with the next generation, who bravely stepped into the flooded Jordan before its waters parted. They crossed full of fight and faith. God had “finished” them well.
But the best finish, the one I’m sure every believer loves most, is the Savior Jesus hanging on the cross, bloody, and about to die after He’d spent His life loving the lost sheep of Israel, healing them of their diseases, performing miracles so they might believe. As He hung there, He uttered the ultimate truth, “It is finished.” What was finished? Jesus? Not hardly! In three days He would blast the stone from its seal and conquer death itself. He finished what we had started all the way back in the Garden of Eden with that fateful bite. We were done for, lost to sin and destined for destruction and death. But Jesus’ one act of dying on the cross paid our insurmountable debt and redeemed us for eternity. It was His finishing work!
As I pondered this, I realized, it’s literally because of Jesus’ finishing work on the cross, that I can leave some things unfinished on my task list. He is the Prince of Peace and the Author of Time. My life in Him grants me time to deviate from my schedule, cancel some of my plans, and help a coworker find a bus…find some peace of mind.
My to-do list awaited me the next day, but for some reason it didn’t feel as pressing, as urgent. I’ll draw this blog to a close because I do need to get some other things done today, but I sure do love knowing that I walk with God as I go about my tasks. I am learning how to finish things as I learn from the Master Finisher.
“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.