Lists to Live By

By Karla Hein

I’ll admit that I have blissfully floated through life catching rides on other people’s checklists.

Leaving for college? I received my family’s hand-me-down list of dorm room essentials. Unfortunately, the list didn’t suggest a packing order. My Cheerios had a floral taste suspiciously similar to the fabric softener sheets squished next to them in my suitcase.

Planning a wedding? Microscopic details were outlined on the lists provided by an aunt and the mothers of the bride and groom. Moments before my wedding, a needle and thread quickly emerged from the emergency kit to divert a potential dress mishap.

Giving birth to my first child? My sister sent hospital packing lists for the mother and baby; even the father had a list to ease the trauma of the birthing ordeal. I realize not everyone has the luxury of their family’s copious list-making abilities. Thankfully, a quick internet search results in every list under the sun and a few reaching into galactic travel.

While it can be easy to borrow lists of cyber man and biological family, Scripture also contains plenty of lists. Studying these lists equips us far better than any other list ever could (2 Timothy 3:16–17)! The other day, I sat down with my Bible determined to list some of the spiritual blessings God has given. The negativity and hostility of our culture had left me feeling discouraged, and I wanted to refresh my mind with God’s promises.

My list included: God’s presence with me always (Hebrews 13:5); hope for the future (Philippians 3:20); joy in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18); the fellowship of believers (Hebrews 10:25); peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7); his Word to guide my way (Psalm 119:105); the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and power (John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19); forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9); his love inseparable (Romans 8:38); examples of those who have gone before (1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 12:1); the testimony of creation proclaiming his glory (Psalm 19:1).

While my list focused on what trials cannot take from me, Apostle Paul’s list reminds of the benefits that result because of trials: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts…” (Romans 5:3–5). Not only do we rejoice in tribulation, but “we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (5:2).

Then finally, verse 11, “we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Remember the list of Romans 8? Terrible tragedies, fears, and enemies are listed, but “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37).

Karla Hein

My giant list of fears and doubts are taken captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) as I echo with the psalmist, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11; 43:5).

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