Thursday, November 24, 2011

Procrastination

Monday was a bust. My to-do list had several items that I either didn’t want to do or was unsure how to do them. Instead of getting at them, I procrastinated. Perhaps I thought that the greatest labor-saving device of that day was tomorrow, but at the end of the day, I was mad at myself. The problem with procrastination on any day is that the next day has twice the work. Not only that, not doing what needs to be done can have far-reaching consequences.
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. (Proverbs 24:33–34)
Spurgeon says that lazy people usually ask for only a little slumber because they would be indignant if accused of total idleness. If I crave only a little time off, a little self-indulgence, I can come up with all sorts of reasons for my unwillingness to do anything. I’m tired. My back hurts. I worked hard yesterday. I don’t feel good.

I’m not knocking proper rest. There is a time for that. However, I know the difference between rest and putting off work because I am lazy or procrastinating. I also know that these little indulgences add up. Minutes add into hours, then days and weeks and years. Soon the time for doing them is gone and I know I will not live long enough to catch up on the “should haves” that I left for a more convenient day.

Time passes quickly. Life can be wasted by droplets, seasons of grace lost by little lapses. In the days like Monday was, God teaches me how frail are my good intentions. In myself, do not have the wisdom or motivation to use my time well. I need the Holy Spirit to keep my priorities right and to have whatever it takes to overcome those uncertainties regarding the things I avoid.

The verses from Proverbs are a warning. Those who sit on their good intentions can be overcome by poverty. Procrastination is like a thief that robs me of the fulfillment that comes from obedience. If God were telling me to take a rest that would be fine, but when God urges me to finish this or tackle that, and I make excuses, then what? At worst, the opportunity will never come again. Even if it does, something else must be put aside for I’ve crowded two things into a space where only one will fit.

Indecision and procrastination do not fit a description of walking by faith. Faith hears and obeys. Procrastination hears but hums and haws. I grew up on a farm. There was seeding and harvesting, each in its time. My father could not tarry. If he did not do either at the appropriate time, there was not a second chance. The crop would be lost. What am I losing by procrastination?

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God, You are gracious and most certainly a God of second changes. However, time is relentless and I know it is possible to put things off until there is no more opportunity. As I wrestle with indecision, laziness and procrastination, remind me that this is not only selfishness, but actually a lack of faith. You are able to equip and help me with all those things that I either dread or am uncertain about. Your Spirit gives the fruit of self-control meaning a discipline to ignore my own selfishness and instead move ahead, doing all that You ask me to do. Tuesday was like that, in great contrast to Monday. You know what I need. Each day, fill me with Your Spirit that I might live in confidence, work with diligence, and turn my back on procrastination.

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