Sunday, January 9

List It!

This is the time of the year for lists. Lists of movies or books or most important events or people. Lists of favorite blog posts. Lists of resolutions, which are really just glorified "to-do" lists.

Lists put things in order. You can take a group of things that seem chaotic, and if you start to put them in a list you will probably see patterns of things--a bit of organization begins to emerge out of the confusion. Or maybe not. Maybe the list really has no rhyme or reason, but just by being a list, it will look as if it does.

I'll admit that I like making lists, and that I'm known in the family as "The Mad List Maker." I have several post-it note lists in the kitchen by the phone: a list of things to do tomorrow (check the oil in the oldest car, take a trip to the dump and a trip to the recycling center, buy Drano); a list of things to do over the next month (That one starts with deep-cleaning my bedroom.); and the beginning of a list of groceries to buy (soy milk, molasses, caraway seeds). There are lists I've compiled here on the blog: some lists of suggestions on child-rearing subjects (potty training tips, and tips for getting reluctant readers to read); a list of some purposes of Christ's death; and a list of God's attributes, for starters.

I like seeing things in lists; I like their tidiness. I like the sense of satisfaction that comes from making a good list. Half of getting anything done is putting it on a list, or at least I tell myself that.

On the way home from church today I started thinking about biblical lists. I thought of several. My favorite one is this:
  • the satraps
  • the prefects
  • the governors
  • the counselors
  • the treasurers
  • the justices
  • the magistrates
  • the officials of the provinces.
This list is a big part of what makes the third chapter of Daniel so fun to read. Of course, it doesn't hurt that this list of dignitaries occurs twice, or that it is given to us right alongside this list of musical instruments, which occurs three times:
  • horn
  • pipe
  • lyre
  • trigon
  • harp
  • bagpipe
  • every kind of music;
and this list (twice):
  • peoples
  • nations
  • languages.
And we can't forget the three friends with the interesting names:
  • Shadrach
  • Meshach
  • Abednego,
who are listed for us a whopping 11 times in that chapter.

All those lists, recorded for us together and repeated again and again in the same chapter makes the story quite entertaining. There is an important point to it all, of course--a serious point; but you can't read this chapter out loud without at least a little chuckle, can you?

Then there's this biblical list, which is not funny, but reassuring. The ultimate hope sustaining list:

  • tribulation
  • distress
  • persecution
  • famine
  • nakedness
  • danger
  • sword
  • death
  • life
  • angels
  • rulers
  • things present
  • things to come
  • powers
  • height
  • depth
  • anything else in all creation
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is there anything at all that's not included on that list? What possible reason could we have to doubt that we are secure in his love?

Add to my list of biblical lists. What lists can you think of? What lists do you like?

[Update: Check out the lists added in the comments!]

[Update 2: The Crusty Curmudgeon gives us a couple of lists: things Paul endured, and things the Old Testament faithful endured, all because they focused on the eternal rather than the temporal. Good stuff.]