Life Is Not About Our To-Do Lists

Life Is Not About To-Do Lists! #livingbrave



The most important truth that we as a culture, and especially a Christian culture–the church–are missing is this:

Life is not about doing; it’s about being.

Before we can do amazing things for God (and I’m not against that) we must be in relationship with Him—a relationship that goes beyond the “Please, save me” prayer. We must be in an ongoing, communicative, dependent relationship with God. This is something I fought and dismissed for most of my Christian life. First, I didn’t understand it. Secondly, I didn’t want to understand it. I’m a Type A person—active, making things happen, checking off my list. Focusing on being and not doing made me uncomfortable. God eventually got my attention. He helped me understand the concept of being with Him in a way I could understand. I pray it will help you understand as well.

Last fall I reread John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping. God made these words speak specifically in a way I could hear: “A soul rests in God the way a tree rests in soil.”* All I had to do was be the tree. Rest in God. From there He would take care of the rest. Simple, right? God just wants me to be the tree. He talked about this in Jeremiah 17:7-8:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

This tree sinks its roots into the rich, moist soil and lets God grow it. Jesus also taught the same idea in John 15. In verse 5 He teaches us, “I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

The essence of both of these verses is relationship. The relationship the tree/grapevine has with the soil determines the kind of fruit it produces. The same is true of our relationship with God. The relationship we have with God determines what come from our lives. Our souls were meant to be rooted in God. When we’re not resting in God, we’re like an uprooted tree or broken off branch. We’re not who God designed us to be. We’re fearful, worrisome, overbearing, and no fun to be around. We’ll never be and do all God planned for us to do.

When we are “resting in God the way a tree rests in soil”, we have peace, comfort, and joy. We are not striving or fretting. We are confident in God, trusting He will direct us.

God gave me this picture of a tree and its roots (see above). Almost every day I draw it in the little notebook I keep with me. As I draw, I pray to God, “I’m resting in You.” As I draw each root, I write the characteristics of God on each root and I pray, thanking Him for each one. I soak in the reality of each of these in my life and the lives of my family.

  • On the first root I write “Love.” I soak in God’s love for me. John 17:23.
  • On the second root I write “Sovereignty.” God has my life and my family’s life under control. Habakkuk 3:17-19.
  • The third root is “Adequacy.” God is more than I will ever need. Romans 8:28-39.
  • The fourth root is “Faithfulness.” God is faithful to keep His Word and do what is best for me. 1 Corinthians 1:9 and Isaiah 26:3.
  • The fifth root is “Forgiveness.” God forgives me. Remembering God’s forgiveness for me helps me forgive others throughout my day. 1 John 1:9.

This is not a how-to list to rest in God. It is a helpful application to focus our thoughts on the truth of Who God is and help us rest in the soil of who He is. From this place of resting in God’s rich soil, my life grows. I am a blessing to those around me. I know and live my purpose for my life. I have all I need to do these things. 

Be the tree. Rest in God. Lay down all your issues. Focus on these five truths about God. Nothing else matters because without God and our relationship with Him we are powerless to affect change in our lives. John 15:5.


*Soul Keeping, John Ortberg. Zondervan Publishing. Page 130.


Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

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