It was the fall of 1989, as I stared down a blank bulletin board in the hallway of the second floor of Coconino Hall at the University of Arizona, where I was a resident assistant for our all-girls dorm. Amongst the resident assistants’ many responsibilities—welcoming students, mediating roommate conflicts, apprehending after-hours boyfriends, and sniffing out the pot smokers—was the added job of constructing an “attractive, inspirational” bulletin board for the residents.
Again, it was the fall of 1989, and the three words splashed across every media outlet in the country were simple: Just Do It.
The man responsible for the fame of these words was Dan Wieden who borrowed the them to sell the world on Nike shoes and clothes. He claimed to have borrowed the words from Gary Gilmore, the Utah man sentenced to death for double homicide. Gilmore is reported to have responded, “Just do it,” when asked for his last words.
Well, if an ad executive could borrow words from a death row inmate, then surely a college resident assistant could borrow the words from an ad executive.
I plastered “Just Do It” across that bulletin board and inadvertently tattooed it permanently on my brain.
You see, it wasn’t only that I used the slogan on this bulletin board, carefully cutting and pasting from the multiple magazines running the ad campaign that year. Once finished, I also saw the bulletin board then hundreds of times over that fall semester.
Going to a writing class at 8 in the morning: Just do it.
Heading out to meet friends when I really wanted to read and eat Oreos: Just do it.
Taking a test that I hadn’t studied for: Just do it.
Interviewing for an internships: Just do it.
I’ve carried those three words through many years of marriage, parenthood, and ministry. They’ve been a refrain through good times and not-so-good times. Get over yourself. Forget about the past. Forget about the doubts. Just do it.
Yesterday, some new responsibilities landed in my proverbial lap. I’m not at liberty to say just yet what these responsibilities are. Long story. What I can say, though, is that these are responsibilities I have possessed in the past and intentionally relinquished for the sake of my family and sanity. Now, however temporarily, they are back, and I was left in a panic.
As I went to God’s word early this morning, I was specifically hoping for some guidance. How am I going to do it all, God? How can I manage with a new campus ministry I’m trying to launch at the same time? How can I juggle? Lord, are You sure?
Here is some of what stood out from my reading today:
By you I can crush a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. (Psalm 18:29)
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:29)
And, finally, a little something from George Macdonald:
We are and remain such creeping Christians, because we look at ourselves and not at Christ; because we gaze at the marks of our own soiled feet, and the trail of our own defiled garments.
In short, said God rather loudly, “Just do it.” Get over yourself. Forget about the past. Forget about the doubts.
I was gratefully reminded that, after all, what matters is not what I accomplish but rather what Christ accomplishes through me. My job is not to lead. My job is to follow.
All right then. Let’s get going. Let’s do it.