By James Snyder
Have you ever had a week where everything went exactly as planned? Neither have I. Every week I start out believing this week is going to be different from all the other weeks of my life. If this has ever occurred, I cannot recall it.
Take last week, please! I start every week about the same. I meticulously prepare my weekly to-do-list. This is not to be confused with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage’s honey-do-list. Her list, and I learned this by experience, takes precedence over every other list in the world.
My weekly to-do-list is a very important part of my week. I chronicle everything needing accomplished during the week along with appointments with people that I need to see. With the religious ferocity of the Pharisee, I follow this list throughout the week and dutifully check off each item as it is completed. Then, Saturday evening I can look back with a great deal of satisfaction and see what I have accomplished.
Unfortunately, I can also look back on my list and see what I have not accomplished this week. With a deep sigh, I carry these items over to next week’s to-do-list. Just between you and me, some items I have carried over for 36 consecutive weeks. By this time, I usually drop the whole notion and get on with my life.
My philosophy is, if you aim at nothing; you will hit it every time. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but what I take away from it is simply that if I do not aim to do something I probably never will do it.
I live day by day by this weekly to-do-list. If it were not for this marvelous tool, I would never get anything done during the week. It is my great joy late Saturday night to work out the following week’s to-do-list.
Sometimes my wife will look at me, sigh and say, “You’re not working on your to-do-list, are you?” Then she says something that actually irritates me. Not everything she says irritates me, but this one does. “You know, if you would spend as much time actually doing those things as you spend planning to do them you might actually get something done during the week.”
I developed this to-do-list so I would not have to keep trying to remember what I was supposed to do during the week. They keep me free to think more creatively about things that need that kind of attention. All I had to do was consult my to-do-list and find out what needed to be done. After all, I don’t want to tax my brain too much. Who do you think I am? The government?
Then last week it happened. Something I had feared for many a year.
Tuesday morning I looked around for my to-do-list and the more I looked, the more elusive it was. I took a deep breath, trying to keep panic at bay because I knew that would not help me. Verging on frantic, I began searching the house.
“What are you looking for?” my wife asked. “Maybe I can help you find it.”
Now, I faced a very deep quandary. Do I confess to my wife that I lost my to-do-list? Or, do I forge ahead on my own hoping I will find it myself. Life is full of these deep, dark quandaries.
Finally, I confessed I had lost my to-do-list. Then she said, “Where did you have it last?”
If I knew that, I thought to myself, it would not be lost. I mumbled something along the line that I could not remember. At my age, not being able to remember comes with the territory.
“You didn’t have it in your shirt pocket, by any chance?”
Of course, I always have it in my shirt pocket. I never go out of the house without my to-do-list in my shirt pocket where it is readily accessible to me.
“You didn’t have it in the shirt pocket of the shirt you put in the laundry yesterday, did you?”
With that, she went to the washing machine, which had just finished its cycle and pulled out some of my shirts. She found a shirt with something in the pocket.
“Oh, here it is, in your shirt I just washed.” She pulled it out and began unfolding it and with a tone a little more sarcastic than I appreciate, she said, “My, your to-do-list is nice and clean.” Then she handed it to me.
With my to-do-list expunged, I had no idea what I needed to do for the rest of the week. It was then that I came up with a solution. If I do not know what I need to do this week, I will do the one thing I have been putting off a little too long.
I went to the Publix bakery and ordered myself, not one, but two Apple fritters. One for myself and one for my guilty conscience. That should teach someone a lesson.
Just when you think everything is going your way, something happens to prove otherwise. A verse in the Bible says this, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Thankfully, I always have a backup plan. Nothing takes my mind off the contingencies of life like a warm, freshly baked Apple fritter.
Since 1997, Rev. James L. Snyder has written a weekly religion/humor column, “Out To Pastor,” syndicated to over 300 newspapers and many websites. The Rev. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 30 books altogether.
James L. Snyder was given an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters) by Trinity College in Florida. His weekly humor column, “Out To Pastor,” is syndicated to more than 325 weekly newspapers.
Through 45 years of ministry, he and his wife Martha have been involved in three church-planting projects prior to their current ministry at the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Florida. The Snyders have three children and nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.
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