I like to keep the notebooks I’ve filled up from year to year. If you flip through the pages, you’ll wonder why I consider them valuable. They aren’t journals filled with my adventures, and I don’t jot down wise thoughts along the borders, at least, not usually. What these college ruled, spiral bound, beat up pages generally contain is: lists.
Do you write lists? I love lists. Lists keep me on track, keep me focused on what is important from day to day.
In my notebooks, these lists serve as a reminder of past years. They show all aspects of life, the good and the bad. Over on this page is a list of items to remember to pack for a day at Disneyworld. Two pages later is a list of food needed for a friend’s funeral. A list for the vegetables growing in my garden this year, and a list for the clothes my growing daughters need. There are lists of chores that need doing, gifts that need buying, and letters that need writing. In one of my older notebooks lies one of my favorite lists - things to bring to the hospital including a car seat and newborn clothes. Turns out, we needed that list twice. My husband keeps his lists color coded, but I don’t possess that level of sophistication. Mine get jotted down using whatever is close at hand - a pen, a pencil, a crayon stub. I love lists.
I think God loves lists too. After all, the Old Testament is full of lists, lists of rules, lists of families and their roles, lists of what is needed for the tabernacle and then the temple. In Proverbs we find several lists: things that are detestable to the Lord, things that are never satisfied, things that are amazing, and more. Even the account of God’s son coming to earth is preceded by a list of his family members.
There is comfort in the list of promises God gives us.
I will never leave you.
I will forgive all your sins.
I will wash away all your tears.
My favorite list - by far - is the list God gives us of things that can separate us from him.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
A list consisting of nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. There is nothing that can separate us from God. His love always reaches us. His presence is always with us.
The psalmist reminds us of this truth too in his list of places to hide from God in Psalm 139 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10
Another list with no entries. There is nowhere God cannot find us. There is no place too far for his hand to hold us fast.
Tomorrow as I tally up the items I need to grab at Walmart I pray God will remind me of the lists he wrote in his word on my behalf. When you cross off the final chore on your honey-do list I pray God will remind you of the null list of things that separate you from his love.