A recent article in Time magazine called Thomas Edison an “inveterate scribbler with a wide-ranging mind.” It seems that in his life time, Edison filled some 3,500 “idea books” with a myriad of goals, concepts to be realized and drawings On one page dated January 3, 1888, he listed 26 different inventions that needed to be accomplished. They included the phonograph, electric lighting, a cotton picker and even “ink for the blind.” He called these things “things doing and to be done.”
It got me to pondering how many of us have lists of things that are “doing and need to be done.” I believe in goal setting and I deeply admire folks who not only make goals but also extend a significant effort to achieve them.
Howard Hendricks, the wonderful Christian writer out of Dallas Theological Seminary once wrote of a friend of his. She was a tremendous lay leader that he greatly admired. She was engaged in important spiritual matters her whole life. Howard remarked that just before she passed away at 83 years of age, she wrote out her goals for the next ten years.
Her story made me think of Caleb in the Old Testament. At 85 years old, he made a significant request of Joshua. The territory of Canaan was being divided up among the tribes of Israel. They knew that there were “giants in the land.” Parts of the country would be very difficult to subdue. And yet, Caleb declared, “I am strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me, as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day…the Lord will be with me and I shall drive them (the giant Anakim people) out as the Lord has spoken.” (Joshua 14:11-12)
“Give me this mountain…I will drive out the giants!” Now there are some lofty goals!
I am truly concerned that many among us generally lack a productive focus and passionate desire to accomplish things that would please the Lord. I am not talking about the pursuit of the almighty dollar. I am talking about being energized about things that will last for eternity. I am speaking of making a difference in the lives of people around us. Considering the prevailing needs that our society has, are we spending time strategizing on how to meet those needs?
At whatever stage of life, do we have meaningful goals that drive our efforts? Are we filling notebooks full of ideas and concepts that need doing? What new “mountain” are we focused on?
Maybe as we say good bye to the fun days of summer and start to reorient ourselves to the more demanding days of fall, we can sit down and write out some significant goals for ourselves. Some of them may be in the “bucket list” format. Or maybe we can identify some specific spiritual exercises that we need to reinforce. Or maybe there are ministries that need our involvement. Or maybe we need to address some personal or family concerns.
This week, let’s focus on accomplishing some things that matter! Who has a good idea for a new light bulb?