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Put It Off

I am a terrible procrastinator. Really.

I used to joke that if you looked up the word ‘procrastinator’ in the dictionary, you would see my picture attached to the definition of the word.

I have a saying that I came up with years ago and still use to this day. “Why do today, what you can put off until tomorrow?”

Here is a fine example.

This photo was taken by me in my office this morning. On the chair you will observe a green plastic bag. In that green plastic bag is a painting I did a few years ago and promised my niece Jamie a copy. Jamie lives in Idaho. The painting has been in my closest at home for over 3 years. It has been in my office since mid-December of 2022. (Trust me, that was a feat all unto itself.)

I need to mail this painting to her. The only problem? That would require me driving to the post office and perhaps standing in line for a long period of time. Oh, I have not even wrapped it for shipping yet. And don’t even get me started on grocery shopping and such. I will put that off until I am at critical mass, as in Old Mother Hubbard. So ya, why do today, what I can put off until tomorrow?

Merriam-Webster defines procrastination:

As a transitive verb: to put off intentionally and habitually As an intransitive verb: to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

They both fit.

I recognize some of it is me simply trying to prioritize, but I also know a part of it is, I’m just plain lazy at times.

I have had a project at home that has desperately needed my attention. I have two guest rooms; one also serves as a home office. The closets in both had become a catch-all. There were boxes of stuff that had just been thrown together to get it out of the way for one reason or another. I wanted to move furniture in one bedroom to place all my office related furniture on the same wall with the guest bed on the opposite wall.

I would think about this project. I would stand in the doorway and visualize this project. I would determine to do something, anything, only to find a distraction, oh, I don’t know, like baking bread. Well, yesterday was the day. I started at 10am and fell into a hot tub at 4:30pm. I did it!!! I felt so accomplished yesterday. It felt so very good to get those things off my To-Do List.

I ended up with three closets, neat and tidy, mostly. Two guestrooms with beds beautifully made and ready for company. I took all my scarves out of three small draws and displayed them on shelving in my closest. Funny thing: I have had my Pashmina scarves for many years. I have several. I discovered yesterday that I have two of the same color and design. I had no idea. I then organized every drawer in my dresser. After that I turned my attention to the mail. Yuck. Junk mail; unopened mail; bills and a handwritten card (Thank you Denise)

I ended up with a few bags for community services. I threw some stuff away. I burned some stuff. I did a few loads of laundry. And vacuumed the house when I was all done.

Why do we procrastinate? Procrastination is the delaying or avoiding of a task. The delay itself is counterproductive, irrational, or unnecessary; so why do we do it?

I found an article online for the Strong Women Training Club, and although the piece was written with exercise in mind, I think it fits any category of our lives. “Before you beat yourself up, procrastination isn’t just due to laziness, nor is it “down to poor time management,”…“It is often associated with a person’s ability to self-regulate their behavior. Procrastination is driven by shorter-term emotional gratification to avoid the experience of negative emotions, adversely impacting longer-term achievement and wellbeing.”

Hmmmm. Ok.

I read of a man who was learning to speak Spanish. It seems there were workers who were asked to do a certain task and they would always answer “mañana” (which he assumed meant, tomorrow). Each day on the job site they would have the same conversation. Finally, one day he asked, “I thought you said you would have this done tomorrow?” to which they replied, “No senor’. “mañana” does not mean tomorrow. It simply means ‘not today.'”

We may put off appointments with our doctor. We may put off meetings at work. We may opt for exercising later. I put off going to the store. Why do we put off?

Chances are we have all done a bit of this at one time or another in our life. But here are the cold, hard, facts. It is one thing to procrastinate with the day-to-day business of this world, but it is quite another thing to procrastinate with the business accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Why do we put that off?

It is funny, in a sad way, how people get priorities confused. Most of us understand the importance of not procrastinating when it comes to matters of money. We get our bills paid on time. We do not negligent to transfer money out of stocks and into bonds before the market changes. We will go to the gas station at midnight if it will save a few cents before the price goes up the next day.

Funny how we see the importance of not procrastinating when it affects our pocketbooks! How much more important are our souls and the souls of those around us?

We can find stories in the Bible about procrastinators.

There was a young man who told Jesus he would follow Him, only he first needed to tend to family matters.

Luke 9:59-62 “Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” NKJV

There are those who will procrastinate doing the right thing because they lack faith in the second coming of Jesus.

Matthew 24:48-51 “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” NKJV

But perhaps the classic example of deadly procrastination is the story of Felix. In fact, the heading for this chapter in the Bible is often titled: “Felix Procrastinates.”

This sad story is found in Acts chapter 24.

Felix was the governor. The chief priest and a contingent of leaders had brought false charges against Paul saying, “We’ve found this man time and again disturbing the peace, stirring up riots against Jews all over the world, the ringleader of a seditious sect called Nazarenes. He’s a real bad apple, I must say. We caught him trying to defile our holy Temple and arrested him. You’ll be able to verify all these accusations when you examine him yourself.”

"The governor motioned to Paul that it was now his turn. Paul said, “I count myself fortunate to be defending myself before you, Governor, knowing how fair-minded you’ve been in judging us all these years. I’ve been back in the country only twelve days—you can check out these dates easily enough. I came with the express purpose of worshiping in Jerusalem on Pentecost, and I’ve been minding my own business the whole time. Nobody can say they saw me arguing in the Temple or working up a crowd in the streets. Not one of their charges can be backed up with evidence or witnesses. Acts 24:10-13 The Message

The story goes on to say that Paul defended himself and Felix listened. Felix then told the centurion to keep Paul locked up, but to allow him liberty to walk around and, allow him to have friends visit and provide for him. Paul must have made an impression, because we see after a few days, Felix came back with his wife.

“And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.” Acts 24:24-27 NKJV

Two years of conversations? And yet, it sounds like, Felix never made the commitment to God. It seems He never accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.

I remember years ago, like 50, my mom was giving Bible studies to a woman. I don't remember if she was a neighbor or how mom knew her, but there came a point where the woman made mom stop. She basically said, "I don't want to know anymore. If I don't know the truth, that I cannot be held accountable." I don't think that is how it works in this case, but the same could be said for Felix. The words Paul was speaking he knew were truth and the truth was making him very uncomfortable.

J.W. McGarvey, in his Original Commentary on Acts said, “It is a sad warning to all who thus procrastinate, that to neither Felix nor Drusilla did the season ever come which they thought convenient to listen to such preaching. Felix was soon dismissed in disgrace from his office; and Drusilla, with a son by Felix, perished in that eruption of Mount Vesuvius which engulfed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.”

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” NIV

Putting off Jesus until some day in the future may prove to be deadly.

Oh! I forgot one very important fact. All that stuff I got done yesterday would have been impossible except for one thing. I prayed before I started. I sincerely asked God to help me get ambitious; to give me the strength to get stuff done; to give me the motivation to not stop halfway through. When I think today about what I accomplished yesterday, I know without doubt, that was my Heavenly Father giving me just what I needed, at the times I needed it.

Philippians 4:13 tells us that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I know this to be true, even with housework.

by Jeanette Stark – Monday, February 6, 2023

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