I love a good list.
There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
I love a good list. There’s something satisfying about marking a crisp X into a previously empty square box – each tick mark the sign of a task completed, of one more step towards a job well done. But as much as I appreciate a good list, the Gospel reading this week on the Good Samaritan has also made me question whether lists are serving me or I am serving them.
I doubt the Good Samaritan woke up that morning and thought, “Today I’ll block off 2 to 4pm for an extra stop to give water to a stranger and bandage his wounds. While I’m at it I’ll budget another couple hours to walk 10+ miles with him on my donkey into Jericho and get him settled at the inn.” Doubtful. More likely than not he had a schedule to keep, a list of tasks to complete and people to see that evening in Jericho. That day, many things went unfinished on the Good Samaritan’s original to-do list, but he did not serve the list. He prioritized people over productivity, serving those in front of him with compassion. I wonder if I would have been as willing to release my schedule, or if I, like the priest and Levite, would have judged that my own agenda was more important than my neighbor.
This Gospel is a stark reminder to me that God is not calling us to be productive. Our daily success is not based on how many items we check off our to-do lists or how rapidly we arrive at our destination. Rather, God is calling us to be the Good Samaritan – to be willing to scrap our plans and our lists when he needs us to be His hands and feet.
Who needs you today? Who wants you to walk on their side of the road, to sit down, to get a bit off schedule in order to be present with them? Friends, let’s leave more boxes unchecked – and leave more space on our lists for God to write our stories.
Kassie Manning is a molecular biologist turned consultant and co-founder of Every Sacred Sunday. When not thinking about books, she can be found climbing tall rocks, searching for chapstick, or making pros/cons lists about camper trailers. Say hi HERE!