Finding Rest in Unfinished Work

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I have a constant to-do list running through my head these days. No matter how hard I try to organize my schedule, no matter how much effort I put in to filling out my weekly planner, no matter how early I get up or how hard I work, the days keep ending before the list does. Every night as I crawl into bed I turn off the light and leave a stack of things undone. Unfinished business has become the theme to my life these days.

It’s kind of defeating, isn’t it? To know that regardless of our effort or accomplishments we will constantly have more to do? I had a countdown to a particular date this spring, the date I thought all the hard stuff would be over and I could at last feel caught up and on top of things. That date came and went and I’m still ploughing through a pile of to-do lists, still feeling behind on my agenda, still feeling like there’s never enough, still wondering if I’ll ever finish everything there is to do.

Weeks have passed since we stood in the lily-clad sanctuary on Easter Sunday and joyfully sang about Christ’s resurrection. The days have moved quickly, one on top of the other, and that morning – and the victory we celebrated then – has become a distant memory. It is Finished is the mantra of Easter. All the striving and all the work, all the meager human attempts to save ourselves, it is all finished. Christ’s death on the cross is completed, and so also are we. But then we woke up on the next Monday morning with a list of things that were incomplete, a whole slew of unfinished business.

How do we reconcile the finished work of the cross with the unfinished work of daily existence on this finite planet? How do we keep waking up, day after day, with faith that it is finished when nothing ever is?

I was on the way home from an evening run the other day. The last of the day’s sunlight was quickly vanishing and the sky was that hazy purple of almost night. Another day completed. Another set of twenty-four hours over. Time keeps moving, keeps moving, never stopping. Racing through my mind were the things I wanted to do before I called it a day. It was too much. There were more tasks than time, as is the case day after day after day. And whispered to my soul right then were the quiet words of Christ, it is finished. But no! It’s not, I argued. I need to get this done, I have deadlines and I have schedules and I have agendas. It is finished, was the only response. Did God not see my list? Does he not understand this constant dilemma?

When we first got married, my husband and I asked each other what goals or hopes we had for each other in the next five years. I told him I desired to see him enjoy the things he did achieve without letting the things still undone overshadow them.

Perhaps this is what God wanted for me when he kept telling me it was finished.

Because the big thing is done. The thing that really matters, the thing of utmost importance. It has been completed. Salvation, redemption, atonement: it is finished. And yes there’s more to be done, there’s always going to be work to do in bringing the kingdom to fulfillment on this earth. We are imperfect humans living in an imperfect world and we will never have quite enough time or resources do to it all. But we can’t let our list of unfinished business overshadow the glory of Christ’s finished work. We will always have more to do, but nothing is as important as resting what has already been done.

I believe the words ‘it is finished’ are so big that they hold every one of our days, even those we have not yet lived. It is finished, even when all feels unfinished. Death is defeated. We have been forgiven our terrible rejection, and we can live every moment in the knowledge that there is nothing left for us to do. Only everything for us to receive. For he has done it.” -Christie Purifoy Roots and Sky

Greer Oharah is a lover of authentic words and strong coffee. She blogs over at greeroharah.com where she writes on encountering God in the sacredness of daily life. She is a nanny, choral accompanist, and piano teacher. Her home is nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains where she lives with her gallant, school-teaching husband.
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