Do all the good you can, By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
Snow falls, covering January’s browned grass and bare-limbed trees in white to match the spaces in the calendars on our walls and planners on our desks. As Anne Shirley gushed, ahead of us lies a whole year with no mistakes in it yet–well, perhaps not, as we’re a few weeks into it at this point. Still, the new year causes most of us to take some time to think through how those empty squares will be filled.
Most of the time, much space is previously called for. Our employers, teachers, parents, children, houses, cars, pets, churches, neighbors, communities–all have plenty of demands they’ve already made on our time. Yet January invites us to a time of intentional measurement, a consideration of the ways we spend our minutes, and thereby, our lives.
Recently I picked up a copy of “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done.” The title was intriguing, as I’d honestly never thought about the gospel affecting methods of productivity. Yet the author managed to draw me in almost immediately with his assertion that not only does the message of Jesus change our means of accomplishing our to-do lists, but that it absolutely must inform what’s on those lists to begin with. After saying that God has called us to do good and has made that clear in several places, such as Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”— he goes on to say this: “The biblical call on our lives is not to do good randomly and haphazardly. Rather, God calls us to be proactive in doing good — even to the point of making plans for the good of others.”
As adults, we know we have responsibility to make plans for our lives. But have you ever considered that God wants you to make plans for other people’s lives? Plans, like those of God, “for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope,” as Jeremiah 29:11 puts it?
Last month, our community group was blessed to be invited to plan a Christmas party for local kids in need. We divided tasks amongst us–one focused on collecting decorations, one’s job allowed for the provision of an incredible steak dinner, one family was able to donate all the gifts, others brought crafts and games and cookies to decorate. We had an amazing time. This spring, we’re making plans for six of us to board a plane to Mexico, where we’ll have pour concrete floors for the makeshift houses many single moms have built from whatever scraps of building materials they can garner from the outlying areas of town, hoping to alleviate the disease issues caused by dirt floors. We’re bringing our kids along because, of course, we have responsibility to make good plans for them, too–and what better “plans for good” can be made than planning to do good?
This year, how might you plan to fill your own blank space with good plans, for yourself, your family, and others?