People who have been following me for a while know how much I love lists. Top 10 lists, Most Important lists, Best of the Year lists, Greatest of All Time lists, you name it and I would probably enjoy it.
With one exception… To Do lists. I hate them because I’m so bad at them. I rarely write one for myself and when one is written for me I struggle to feel enough personal investment to get it done. Even when my wife, the most important person in my life, gives me a list of things To Do, odds are I will forget something (or everything) on the list.
But last year I found a list posted by The Simple Way, Shane Claiborne’s ministry, and I can’t get it out of my head. So much that I keep coming back to the list to pull ideas or check how many items on the list I have done recently or in the past. It is also one of those to do lists that is perpetual. You don’t do it once and then you’re done. You don’t scratch an item off and then never do it again.
The list is called 50 Ways to Become the Answer to Our Prayers. The idea is that so many people view prayer as something you do and then wait for God to answer it. We forget that God uses his followers to bless others and transform lives. Jesus said we have an opportunity to do even greater things than He did. There is a reason the church is called the “body” of Christ. The purpose of this list is to find ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus by loving our neighbor (and even our enemy) in very practical and helpful ways.
Ask your pastor if someone on your church’s sick list would like a visit.
Adopt a child.
Mow your neighbor’s grass.
Read the newspaper to someone at your local nursing home.
Leave a random tip for someone who’s cleaning the streets or a public restroom.
These are tasks that could turn someone’s day (or even life) around. What would happen if you had to miss church because you were sick and a church member stopped by to check up on you? Or better yet, brought you soup? Millions of children worldwide are praying for a safe home. What if you could give them one? Maybe your neighbor hasn’t mowed his lawn in a while because of his recent health problems and he is worried the landlord might complain. What if you mowed it for him? A nursing home can be a lonely place. What if you spent some time with one (or more) of the loneliest residents? And many public service workers are scraping to get by financially and rarely expect much help beyond their small paychecks. What if you left them some extra cash?
As you see, these are practical and even simple. Not to downplay their profound implications, but it is awesome to see a mighty God working through His creation to answer the prayers and even cries of the needy in such simple ways. And of course, that is the purpose of The Simple Way’s ministry, to show that helping the needy, feeding the hungry, caring for “the least of these” is the result of making some simple decisions and life changes that may have a profound impact on someone who has been crying out to God for help.
You can check out the rest of the list here. And I recommend you stick around on the site for a bit and see how The Simple Way is transforming their community and the Kingdom of God.