What’s on Your To Do List? by guest M.J. Johnston

At this time of year, I generate lists – and lots of them; lists of cards to send out, lists of presents to purchase and lists of chores to accomplish.  While speaking to a friend recently, she expressed how challenging this time of year is when working full-time and trying to keep up with her own lists.

My friend isn’t the only one feeling a bit stretched and stressed during the holidays.  A report generated by the American Psychological Association showed that up to 69% of people are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time”, 69% of people are stressed by perceiving a “lack of money”, and 51% feel stressed out over the “pressure to give or get gifts”.  That’s a lot of people feeling stressed about things that don’t really have anything to do with the reason we reach out, gather and share with friends, family and others at this time of year.

My friend’s comments got me to thinking about the underlying reason for all the activity that creates all the lists – i.e. celebrating the birth of Jesus.  I wondered just what his mother, Mary, had on her list as the birth approached.

This led me to the question, “What did God put on my list today?”  I knew for certain that it wasn’t God who had listed, “Go to the Post Office, Dry Cleaners, pick up milk & bananas”.  So, what did God put on my list today?

As I turned to the Bible for answers, I thought about Moses who found himself with a pretty big item God put on his ‘to do’ list – lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  This was clearly not on Moses’ to-do list, but he knew it was God-directed and he was obedient and accomplished what was asked of him.

InGalilee, Mary was told how, when, where and what to expect for her firstborn – in spite of her never having been with a man – and was even given the baby’s name, Jesus.  She simply replied, “be it unto me according to thy word.”

Saul had a very clear and succinct ‘to-do’ list – to arrest all followers of Jesus and bring them bound untoJerusalem.  His transformational experience not only forced him to abandon his to-do list, but led him to a 180 degree turn around and to lead the very movement he intended to abolish.

What wonderful examples of individuals who listened to hear what God put on their ‘to-do’ list and who went about doing just that – even if it meant that they had to abandon their own plans.

So, back to finding what God put on my to-do list. While I didn’t see a burning bush, have an angel visitant nor be blinded by a bright light, I did remember what Jesus said were the two great Commandments:  love God and love others as you love yourself.  With Christmas really being about celebrating Jesus’ ministry, the beauty of this short, simple list is that it can all be done while going to the P.O., dry cleaners and the grocery store.  It’s not the doing of these chores that matters, it’s how we do them.

When I start my day knowing and practicing these to-dos, I find I drive more safely, I respond to store clerks more kindly, I find what I need more easily and I complete chores more efficiently.  Often, I’m reminded of items I forgot I needed and even save a subsequent trip.  Completing to-do lists in this way becomes a joyful opportunity for blessing others; stress and pressure just melt away.

Artwork by cathredfern uploaded from flickr.com

Mary Jane (“M.J.”) Johnston is a former executive with a Fortune 10 company and is now in the full-time study and practice of Christian Science. She and her husband live with their (2) sons and “Grandma J.” in Lutherville, MD.  M.J. enjoys outdoor activities and plays the bagpipes with a local band.



  1. Thank you, I am grateful for this blog, for this particular message today, and for all the way marks that press me “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” as Paul says.

    • Steve – so glad the blog was helpful. We can all rejoice for the continuous progress we make each day!