I love my older brother, Kyle. He’s a great guy; hard-worker, honest, friendly, and a man of true integrity. Next to my wife, my brother is the person that I would trust with my life without question. But there’s one tiny flaw that Kyle, admittedly, wrestled with for years: procrastinating. Now, he’s much better than he used to be. In fact, I remember a time when he postponed buying my parents an anniversary gift so late, that he was forced to walk to the corner market and buy the first thing he saw: an Asian-style hibachi. It was the only thing on the shelf of that convenience store that closely resembled a gift. That may not seem odd to you, but it was odd to all of us because my parents have never (even to this day) eaten one single Wonton or a bite of Lo Mein noodles. They don’t even like Asian food. That time, his procrastination got the best of him. But that wasn’t the last time. There’s one priceless story that he and I look back on and laugh about to this day. Now remember, this is not just based on a true story, it IS a true story.
When we were in seminary at Southeastern together, we would often commute with one another from Virginia to North Carolina. Therefore, it was more convenient for us to schedule our classes together if possible. One semester we took an evening course which was entitled Biblical Counseling with Dr. Bob Jones (no, not that Bob Jones, another one). Throughout the semester our professor taught us how to approach lifestyle problems from a Biblical perspective. Dr. Jones taught us how to look beyond the “fruit” issue and discover the “root” source of an ungodly behavior, habit, or attitude. We were then shown how to give sound Biblical guidance accordingly. Our major assignment, for that semester, was to do an honest, self-diagnosis. We had to pick an issue, in our own personal lives, that we struggled with and Biblically counsel ourselves. At the end of the semester we had to present a paper to the professor about how God’s Word helped change this area of our life. So early in the semester we all picked our issues: one friend of ours picked laziness, I chose my inconsistent prayer life (which I still battle with) and my brother Kyle picked the obvious issue that he’d been aware of for nearly three decades: chronic procrastination.
The semester trudged along and as the deadline for our project approached Dr. Jones frequently reminded us about it. After three whole months of personal introspection, blatant honesty, Biblical conviction, and self-counseling, the day finally arrived for us to hand in our assignment. As we walked to class that evening, I asked Kyle “How’d your paper turn out?” His response was, “Ah, not that good.” I said, “Really? How so? Did you find it more difficult to deal with than you originally thought?” He said, “Yeah, you might say that.” After a few moments of awkward silence I eventually replied, “You didn’t finish your paper yet, did you?” He said, “Nah, not even close.” Needless to say, he turned the paper in nearly a month overdue!! I must say, procrastinating on a paper about procrastination has to be the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy. Since that time, though, Kyle’s definitely learned his lesson and prioritizes his life much better and procrastinates much less. I’m very proud of him.
When given the opportunity, some of us have the tendency to procrastinate like my brother used to. Some people wait to fill out their taxes until April 14 and others buy their Christmas gifts on the 24th of December. Still others plan on starting that diet or quitting smoking on Monday, but that “Monday” never comes. As the song says, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” Procrastinating is an easy choice to make, because it’s simply the choice to do nothing.
One reason that procrastinating is unwise, though, is because we don’t know what the future holds. As Proverbs 27:1 reads,
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”
Sometimes we find excuses or invent reasons for waiting to do something we know that we should (e.g. invite someone to church, share our faith, make an encouraging call, pray for someone) but before you know it we end up procrastinating the opportunity away all together. When we hear God’s Word and when we’re prompted by His Spirit, we shouldn’t delay in responding, but we should seek to obey Him immediately. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6,
“We also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain–… [for] Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION “.”
This is one reason we often give invitations to the sermon each Sunday. It is an opportunity for an immediate response and decision in light of God’s Word. When it comes to obeying the Lord, there’s no time like the present. Many people think, “Yeah, I know I should serve in church but I just never make the time.” Or, “I know that I should give, but I’ll start sometime later.” But sadly, many times, the future never becomes the present. Solomon encouraged us to carpe diem (“seize the day”) for God. He wrote
“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them’;”
When it comes to obeying God’s leading, there’s no time like the present. So for all those things you know you should do, but have been waiting until you got “around to it”; just, print this article, get yourself a pair of scissors and cut out this “round tuit”. That way you’ll always have one.
Maybe later, right?