I think I know what I would like carved into my gravestone someday. (How’s that for a morbid thought on Valentine’s Day? 🙂 ) Here it is:
“I have finished the work which You have given me to do.”
Jesus prayed these words before Judas betrayed Him. It would only be a few hours before He went to the cross (John 17:4b). Elisabeth Elliot, in her insightful (and highly recommended) book, Discipline: The Glad Surrender, says of Jesus’ words,
This is not the same as saying He had finished everything He could possibly think of to do or that He had done everything others had asked. He made no claim to have done what He wanted do. The claim was that He had done what had been given.
This is an important clue for us. The work of God is appointed. What was given to the Son to do was the will of the Father. What is given to us to do is also His will.
There is always enough time to do the will of God. For that we can never say, ‘I don’t have time.’ When we find ourselves frantic and frustrated, harried and harassed and ‘hassled,’ it is a sign that we are running on our own schedule, not on God’s.
I regret the many times I have neglected my God-given priorities to pursue my own interests and desires, the times I’ve said “no” to God’s tasks because I said “yes” to other good and not-so-good activities. I look back and recall many times that I have been frantic or stressed or overwhelmed because I have taken on more than God has called me to do. I remember far too many times where I’ve felt my heart racing, heard my voice rising, seen my children bowing beneath the weight of my over-taxed emotions and energy.
God has called me to serve Him. He will not lay the weight of burdens on me that I foolishly try to take up on my own. Jesus’ burden is light. When mine becomes heavy, I know I’m carrying more than He has given me to bear. I need to pray for God’s guidance, listen to His direction, and take hold of His enabling grace. I want to finish what He, my Father, has given me to do, and leave the rest behind.