Overriding Your To-Do List

Overriding Your To-Do List

September 1, 2014

“But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.'” Luke 9:62 (TLB)

Leah DiPascal

I was a woman on a mission and nothing was going to stop me. Or, so I thought.

With an over-ambitious mindset and a determined heart, I clutched my lengthy to-do list as if it were a sacred antidote for life.

Having much to accomplish and only a few hours to spare, I whipped into a parking spot and made a mad dash towards the front doors of my local convenience store.

On the way in, I noticed a group of people staring at something on the ground. Avoiding the distraction, I shifted my direction and headed towards another set of doors on the opposite side of the store. Then the unexpected happened.

A nudge. A knowing. A whisper in my heart: “Go over to the crowd.”

At first, I dismissed it as curiosity. A random thought that needed to be ignored. But then it dawned on me … I wasn’t curious at all. In fact, I was much more interested in getting in, getting out and going my own way.

I’m not involved, so it’s not my problem.

Then I sensed the whisper again: “Leah, I want you to go over there.”

With a smile on my face and joy in my heart, I made a beeline for the crowd. NOT. Instead, it went something like this: Heavy sigh. Slow turn. Unsettled feelings.

I recognized God’s nudge, and I wanted to obey. Really, I did. But, another part of me just wanted to keep walking.

This distraction is going to throw off my schedule and keep me from accomplishing what I need to get done today. It’s probably nothing.

Reluctantly making my way back across the parking lot, I approached the crowd and saw a man on the ground. A heavy concoction of sweat, alcohol fumes and stale smoke filled the air.

Glancing at his tattered clothes and swollen feet, I noticed the scratches on his arms and face.

His eyes were swollen shut, and he wasn’t moving. The crowd stood silently staring at his body. I couldn’t tell if he was breathing, but I could hear the faint sounds of an ambulance in the distance.

Help was on its way, so I could now be on my way. Then the whisper came again: “Kneel down and pray for him.”

Seriously Lord … kneel down? Here in the parking lot? Can’t I just stand here and pray silently for him? All these people will think I’m a weirdo. Besides, help is coming.

“Kneel down and pray for him.”

So I did. Kneeling down next to the man, I stretched out my hand and gently placed it on his shoulder. I began to pray out loud. No one else said a word.

At first it felt awkward. Uncomfortable. Crazy. But then I felt someone’s hand rest gently on my shoulder. Within moments, a woman bent down next to me and placed her hand on the sick man’s arm. Another hand extended. Another voice responded to the prayers.

In just a few seconds, this unlikely mix of strangers transformed into a powerful prayer group. Right in the middle of a busy convenience store parking lot. An unwanted distraction became a divine appointment.

No one objected. No one walked away. We continued to pray until the paramedics arrived, treated the man and left for the hospital. As the sirens faded into the background, I stood there astonished at what God had just done in our midst.

Had I ignored the whisper I would have missed out on the miracle. I could have overlooked the distraction, but I would have missed my divine appointment. My “important” schedule paled in comparison to what I had just experienced: God tying hearts together and weaving a beautiful blanket of prayer over one of His broken children.

In the midst of the ordinary, God breathed the extraordinary … all within a circle of strangers willing to be distracted for a moment in time.

Did you wake up this morning with a long to-do list and an ambitious mindset? When distractions come your way, try pausing for a moment to see if God is unwrapping a divine appointment for you. It may be disguised as ordinary circumstances. But as you peel back the layers, whispering “Yes Lord, I’ll obey,” you will no doubt experience His presence and glory!

Lord, thank You for entrusting me with divine appointments, and let my answer to Your call always be yes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Jeremiah 7:23b, “Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.” (NIV)

Philippians 2:13, “… for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Sometimes interruptions are your Best Yes in disguise. To learn more about making wise choices, click here to purchase Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, The Best Yes.

Are you living with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule and aching with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul? If so, know you’re not alone. Click here to join our free upcoming Online Bible Study of The Best Yes, beginning Mon., Sept. 22.

Stop by Leah DiPascal’s blog today and enter a drawing to win a copy of The Best Yes.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When was the last time God turned a distraction into a divine appointment for you?

Do you struggle with discerning God’s voice? Pray and ask God to give you a greater awareness of His presence.

Lysa TerKeurstClick here to pin the imageClick here to download this free printable PDF

© 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. I was one of those busy and on a mission people until about 4 years ago. I became unable to physically do all those things anymore….my body just won’t allow it. I lose function of my legs for hours, sometimes days at a time. I have had no real answers until recently. I spent so much time being angry but now I realize God has a plan for me and he is leading me where he needs and wants me.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. It brought tears to my eyes reading it. I wonder just how many opportunities pass by because we are just too busy trying to run the show instead of listening to God and His plans

    • Alyson, I’m so glad you enjoyed today’ devotion. The good news is God’s mercies are new every morning so we can start with a clean slate and have great expectation of what He will reveal to us today!

  3. Janet Price says:

    God bless you Leah. You were willing to submit to the leading of the Spirit and step out of your comfort zone–and God used you. What a beautiful story!

  4. What an amazing story, Leah! I wonder how many of those people praying hadn’t prayed in weeks or months? It’s amazing how crisis draws people to God. But none of them might have prayed if it hadn’t been for hearing YOUR voice. “Lord, help us to wake up to your divine appointments!”

  5. Thanks for the post. Three days ago as I was travelling by train , I too had the same nudging of the Spirit to convey a message to the young girl sitting right across me. (a warning). I was very hesitant but The Lord gave me the courage to write a note to her and get down. I really do not know whether she responded to the warning or not but I felt at peace and joy filled my heart . It was a new experience in my life. So glad to know how our LORD directs us to fulfill His plan.

  6. Mom Self Employed says:

    I am feeling very lost today. I’m asking for prayers. I’m searching for God’s help & direction. I’m a mom, wife and love my family yet everyday I come home and yell. I have expectations of some help with picking up the house & I feel like I’ve lowered my expectations so not to put pressure – but then I come home & there are dishes & trash & no one has bothered to clean up after themselves so I yell – yet a again.
    I’m also self employed (Realtor) and business has been very slow. I’m focusing on what is suppose to move my business – somethings are a struggle because I’m more introverted that I ever realized. We are slowly depleting our savings which is putting more stress – especially when yesterday our a/c had issues & now our 2nd car won’t start.
    I woke up this morning and keep praying for God’s help & I know he is there & listening – I just can’t find the peace the last few months.

    • When you yell, you hurt those around you, as well as yourself. You’re taking your frustrations out on them and if you don’t find a way to cope, it will only get worse. You’ll eventually lose your joy and peace and you may even find yourself saying hurtful things you shouldn’t. This is the voice of experience talking. When you feel you’re about to “lose it”, remove yourself from the situation immediately. Step outside on the porch–go lock yourself in the bathroom–just get away until you calm down. Cry out to God—He’s listening. Set aside time each day to read His Word and most importantly, attend church for edification of your Spirit. You are loved precious one, and you know God is aware of everything you’re going through. I will be praying for you.

    • Hi Self-Employed Mom, you have received great advice and wonderful prayers here. I also posted a response below, but am not sure you will see it as that may be the wrong area. I will be praying too <3

  7. Know that you are not alone.
    I will keep you in prayer throughout the day today.
    May God give you the measure of peace you need for this day. 🙂

  8. After watching the movie “God’s not dead”, this is a great devotional to wake up to.
    Thank you Leah for allowing God to use you.
    Thank you for this devotional.

  9. Mom Self Employed, I will be praying for you today. Wish I could tell you how unimportant everything being just in place is once they are grown and gone and you are in the house alone.

  10. We never know when the request to do something God ask us to do. We just have to be open to hear his voice and to abey no matter what WE have planned. God comes first

  11. Leah, this message is yet another way God is reminding me to embrace the uncomfortable in life–stepping out of my comfort to reach out in love. To say “yes” to the divine appointments He has for me. To actually notice them and to sacrificially respond in love. Thank you for sharing this today. Blessings to you.

  12. Really LOVED that message. Thank you for sharing. We can get so caught up in the busyness of our lives that we can totally miss the miracles and wonders happening all around us. We must always be open to hearing the voice of God and even more importantly, OBEYING! lol it’s one thing to hear, but it’s a different thing to actually hear and obey 🙂 Thank you!

  13. Thank you for reminding to listen when God is calling and to do what He is asking, even if I feel like a “weirdo”.

  14. Self employed mom, I yell as well for the same reasons. I’ll pray for both of us.

  15. kacee burgess says:

    What a beautiful reminder to slow down and allow Father to move on the behalf of others.

  16. kacee burgess says:

    Self- Employed Mom- I am praying that Father gives you peace as He answers.

  17. This was really on time for me this morning as I was just taking a 20 minute pause before tackling my “to do” list.

  18. To swlf employed mom…life is so difficult.we have so many responsibilities as mom and provider and sometimes tbe stress has us wanting to break! The good news is that God allows us to scream and yell at him! So instead of yelling at the kids find a place (for me the bathroom lol) where you can be alone! Yell your fear your heartache your worries and concerns! He knows them already but wants to talk to you and hear them from you! Life is like a marathon… in the beginning it seems easy bc you are going downhill…its the moment we must push our way up that we find out what we are made of and that God is seeing us through even carrying us at times! Remember that when we are at our breaking point thats when we are about to be at the finish aboyt to have our breakthrough!! Dont allow the devil to steal your joy! Cross the finish! Grasp your blessing! You are almost there!! God bless you!!

  19. Waking up and coming Accross this is amazing. To the self employed mom praying for you god will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. It happens often to me as well but we need to stop and ask god to take over.Thank you Leah for the encouragement. he is soooo good and we don’t always see it! God bless you all.

  20. Thank you for the devotional. I am speaking at a prayer group this week & I am going to use this message. I pray that I can deliver it in a humble way that glorifies God.

  21. That is the most beautiful reminder for me/us.Thank you so much! It will make a difference in my life.

    PS I’m looking for comments/advice for the many women who are avoiding so many wonderful foods God provides, just to be slim, they are paranoid, a nervous wreck, and unhappy. I call it “Worshipping the Creation more than our Creator”. And then we wonder why our next generation of girls are becoming “Bulemic”
    Might be a good topic for a book??????

    • Anne, if you have a blog, I’d encourage you to begin writing about this topic “Worshiping the Creation more than our Creator” see what kind of response you get. Personally, I think this message is very relevant for our world today. Leah

  22. Thank you Leah I have been receiving your daily devotionals for about a month and it is amazing how each one has something to do with my day especially today’s. I have been so busy caught up in the affairs of others that I have been infected by their bad choices that have been made. I have realized that I cannot save them I am talking about family members however it has been a journey. I am working on saying NO when actions affect my health. Thank you again for allowing God to mi ister to you to help others especially me.

  23. Shelley Summerville says:

    I’ve read so many devotions before about missing divine appointments, but wow- this really hit me. So thankful for your sharing this story and reminding me to stop and listen when God prompts me to do something. I don’t want to miss any opportunity that the Lord has for me!

  24. Self-employed mom, I am so glad you posted today! It is so good to know that we are not alone! I so appreciate the responses others have given you as they have also been a blessing to me. I yelled for years and my children are grown now. I have asked each one of them to forgive me and thankfully we do love each other and God is merciful. I wish I had known some of the techniques Supernanny uses when I was raising my children. While it is not a Christian show, she teaches techniques that help us create rules and boundaries (and fun relationships too!) that can prevent you from feeling like a victim when family is not doing what they are supposed to do. It used to make me feel so bad! I didn’t know how to get my family to do what I needed them to do! All I could do was yell. The advice and prayers you are receiving here are wonderful and take steps too to learn how to set limits and encourage your family. Our husbands and children are our greatest blessings. You will not regret learning new techniques that will help you enjoy your time with them.

  25. Thank you for this devotion. To mom self employed- Yes you are not alone. I’ve experienced what you are going through. I changed my tactic really finding that yelling and getting all upset really has not helped at all. I found that I have control issues I’ve had to deal with. Hesitating and praying before responding allows me to open my heart to how God wants me to respond. This devotion also made me realize that I am not letting the Holy Spirit speak into my life.

  26. I totally agree with your experience. I had similar ones; the joy and amazement that follow is overwhelming. Often, I am thankful that I obeyed Him.

    Words cannot express how good our God is.

  27. Janet…how humbling is it to depend on others when we are supposed to be the caregiver!? I am 4 weeks out from back surgery. I’ not worked since July 15th and my husband is disabled. But God has shown me so much!! HE is BiGGER THAN my physical limitations, my frustration, my financial challenge. HE made all and, if we allow, He has incredible, not always painless, lessons to teach us. I am seeing my family through new eyes. He is allowing me to re-prioritize. I have hours available to pray for others now, to read my Bible! I thought my life was over…He has graciously shown me a better life in this season. Don’t give Satan an inch…praise God that He loves you so much that He slowed your pace so you can give Him your full attention. I am praying for you sister!

  28. Hi self employed mom! We are on the same boat. I also yell at my husband and kids when chores assigned are not done, when house is cluttered when I got home from work. It’s true, we are not alone. God is always there 24/7. I will pray for you and all moms around the world who are weighed down with by duties of responsible parenthood. Hey, we are lucky for we experience the joys and pains of being a mom. It’s still a blessing. God bless.

  29. What a beautiful testimony! I will start praying so I can be as well aware of God`s appointment to me. Thanks for sharing the word of God! God bless you indeed!

  30. Angie Hamilton says:

    Thank you for the post. It is very timely. I often find myself rushing or anxious to complete my to do list. My day is overloaded with too much. I am learning to wait on God’s timing and his will. Things occur on his time. Thanks.

  31. Kimberly Jones says:

    God is showing us that even in a world that seems so distant and often so evil, that those who love and know Him are among us. Just last month my family was on vacation in Lake Tahoe and a boy was brought onto the shore who had drown and was grey. The medics worked on him but you could hear the whispers that there was no pulse and no hope. During that time, after a call from a woman that had brought him on vacation for all who loved Jesus to pray, MANY came forward one by one and began to pray in Jesus’ name and ask for the boys life. I have been in contact with the family and his recovery has been nothing short of miraculous! The boy’s family was called from Texas to say their good-byes. Miracle, by miracle Jake has recovered. He has no brain damage and is getting his strength back. It has been beautiful to witness from the day on the beach to today…PRAISE TO OUR LIVING GOD!

  32. mary bruin says:

    LOVE THIS Leah!!!! 🙂

  33. This is an opportunity that does not come to my mind. Makes me think; am I listening to the holy spirit?
    What opportunities have I missed? Thank you for sharing this experience, I would like to be as open to the Lords calling.

  34. That brought tears to my eyes! And considering I am working out and reading this at the same time, heavy breathing and crying do not work well together!

    Oh, how often am I rushing around and forgetting that god is whispering to me!

  35. As I was reading the comments on the blog, I had my Bible open to Isaiah 30:21″Your ears shall hear a word behind you,saying,”This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.” That is a directive from God and I pray He lays it on my heart to not ignore. I’m sure I have failed in the past but pray I will hear that directive when an opportunity presents itself from this time forward. The powerful comments on this blog were motivating and convicting.

  36. Thank you for this story. I needed this today. I’ve been struggling with many things myself and praying for a miracle in my life. Thank you for reminding me miracles are all around us, we just have to be still and listen and obey.

  37. I have heard God ask me to pray for strangers in stores, and I ignore Him for fear of being “weird” or turned down. I had the opportunity this weekend to pray for a friend who I knew wouldn’t say no, and I didn’t hesitate for a second. This devotion has shown me there are other believers in the crowd who want to pray but are afraid like me. I’m going to be bolder from now on knowing I am called to obey God and called to be fearless!

  38. A divine appointment by nature will be uncomfortable because it takes us out of our personal comfort zones to a place where the Holy Spirit can work in and through us. Our task is simply to be obedient to God’s still small voice at that moment. Yes, it feels crazy or embarrassing possibly but our God works in mysterious ways His wonders to behold. I have never regretted walking through that divine appointment with God once I took that first step toward obedience. Once I got past my self and my pride to join God where He was ready to work. My husband had triple bypass heart surgery a few years back. As I entered the ICU as I would pass by the ICU waiting room and yes, I would say a quick prayer for them and their ill family member. Every day I noticed the same young man wearing a brightly colored hoodie with the hood pulled up. I never saw his face but always noticed his presence. Day or night, he was faithful to be there. On day five after my husband’s successful surgery, praise God, it appeared he would be coming home. I was his only caretaker and my mind and my list were full of things to do. I was running late and power walking toward ICU to check on my husband and assist him in getting ready for bed at about 8:30 PM. As I rushed past the ICU waiting area, God very clearly spoke to me and said,”You need to go talk to him.” referring to the young man wearing the hoodie. I whined and told God that I was running late and my husband needed me. Then, and it grieves my heart to this day, I actually had the audacity to put the Creator of the universe on hold. I told him that if the young man was still in the ICU waiting room when I came out of ICU, I would talk with him then and truly,thought nothing else about it with my mind and list full. I left the unit later than I planned so my mind had moved to my list of all the things I needed to take care of before my husband’s discharge the next day. As I power walked down the hall past the ICU waiting area, a flash of color caught my attention in my peripheral vision. I stopped and literally had to walk back to the ICU waiting room and there sitting all alone was the young man wearing that hoodie that had caught my attention all week. I had put God on hold and then almost walked right past His assignment for me. God told me to talk with him but he did not tell me what to say. I said a quick prayer for the words I needed to say and walked over to him. I asked him about his family member who was ill and complimented him on his faithfulness in being there for his grandfather. The Holy Spirit took over and gave me every word that needed to be said. There was no way I could have thought of the words on my own. Ultimately, I prayed the sinner’s prayer with that young man as he gave his heart and life to Jesus right there in the ICU waiting room. I told him I would bring him a Bible the next day. Little did I know that there would be a partial ICU unit switch including the waiting area. I arrived the next morning, Bible in hand, and the waiting area was gone. I prayed about what to do because I wanted the young man to have a Bible and to know that I would keep my word as a Christian. I finally decided to take the Bible over to the cardiac post-surgery waiting room. There was a volunteer in the room that day so I described the young man and left the Bible with the volunteer not knowing the outcome although I did wonder and shake my head in wonder at the gift of being part of God’s divine appointment. The story, much to my continued amazement, (Why are we amazed at God?) did not end there. I live in a city of 250,000 people with at least 5 Walmarts. I had gone to pick up some gluten free cereal for my husband to a Walmart on the other side of town because they had the item in stock. I gathered all my other items and yes, I was power walking again down the front aisle of the store to pick up the cereal and head to checkout. I looked up and walking toward me was Danny, the young man I prayed with at the hospital. Another divine appointment! He did receive the Bible and his grandfather came through his surgery well. I also learned that he did not live locally but was visiting during his grandfather’s illness. Only God could have orchestrated such a time and story. Now what I have not told you is that due to the critical nature and timing of my husband’s cardiac surgery, I was missing the birth of my first grandchild (blended family) and was feeling a little sad and disappointed at missing such a special time with my daughter. Being able to be part of that young man’s commitment to Jesus was so much more the greater that God gave me such peace about being where He wanted me in the much greater and better picture. My daughter is married to a pastor and when told the story, rejoiced with me in my absence at the birth of the baby as compared to the salvation of a lost soul. I realized that being asked to be part of a divine appointment is a gift to be treasured-that God entrusts us to be part of His work that may only present itself for that specific time or place. His Word promises us that if we are obedient, He will equip us for His calling. So what if we feel a little awkward or uncomfortable? Look at Mary, Joseph, Moses, and other greats from the Bible. God did His greatest work in and through their lives by moving them out of their comfort zones through His divine appointments. My prayer and concern is missing His work for me because of my busyness and misplaced priorities.

  39. Dear self-employed mom: Your plate is so full with so much going on. I am a school counselor and find that when I really want/need to get the children’s attention, leaning toward them, lowering my volume, and saying “Listen up for something important”. Really does help. Also behind your yelling are feelings that need to be named and taken to God. He is loving and big enough to handle it all. Please make sure you are taking care of yourself-spiritually and physically. I have lost my ability to speak due to complications from a parathyroidectomy. My vocal cords are paralyzed and what I would give to be able to yell one time! Seriously, before the surgery, God gave me this verse. I did not understand it then but hold onto it every day now. I pray the truth and power of His word will help you as well. You are covered by the prayers of so many sisters in Christ and as my mom says, ” Where prayer is concentrated, power falls”. Now for the verse. ” In a quiet spirit and confidence ( in God who and in all He is), is my strength. I am praying for you.

  40. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to be reminded of what matters most.

  41. Ann Marie Peterson says:

    Loved it!

  42. Thanks for listening to the Spirit’s prompting, even if it was reluctantly. I shared this devotional with my women’s prayer group today. Open my ears, that I may hear . . .

  43. I did like this message. I am trying to be like you and keep my eyes and ears open for the right things to do. I know for sure there is always a happy ending in my heart when I get it right.

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