Hold on a minute. Let me check my email. I’m expecting a few, and they may need my immediate attention. Okay, I’m back. But the cat is whining by the back door. I really should go let it out. Back again. You know I haven’t checked my posts on Twitter and Facebook in a couple hours. I really should do that. It’ll only take a minute, and once I’ve done it I won’t have to think about it anymore. Hello, again. I really hate it when my documents folder gets congested with a lot of different documents. I should take some time to get them organized into sub-folders. That’s better. Now, I can concentrate on what I really need to do. But my husband just got my grilled ham and cheese done. I should eat it while it’s hot. Hey, he even added some chips and French onion dip. Score! I’ll be back just as soon as I’m done eating.
Believe it or not, this is exactly how the last hour has gone at my house. Well, I guess you’d have to add in a couple deep sighs with my head thrown back on the couch in frustration and an episode of New Girl. Oh, and chocolate.
I had every intention of sitting down, getting right to work, and having my post written and up in no time at all, leaving the rest of my evening to work on my novel’s sequel. But once I turned on my computer, my plans changed. I still wanted to write the blog, but I was met with a blank page. Some days there is nothing as difficult as facing a blank page.
What do you do when that happens? I don’t know about you, but I procrastinate. It’s not that I don’t intend to do whatever I started out to do. I will. I know I will. Just not right now. Maybe if I wait, I’ll come back and the page will magically be filled with words. How sweet would that be? Maybe if I spend just a little more time doing other things, things that don’t take a lot of thought, I’ll come back to that blank page and the words will start flowing freely from my fingers. Probably not.
The things I’m filling my time with aren’t bad. Eating is necessary for life. Chocolate is too. My documents folder really did need some organization to make it more user friendly. And I’m waiting on emails from a few authors answering Main Character Monday interviews and one from the person making a book trailer for the release of Faith’s Journey. Those aren’t unimportant. Plus, if they have questions, I do need to answer them promptly. Besides, the documents folder and emails are all part of this business of writing. They do need attention. Just maybe not right this minute.
That’s the problem with procrastination. It’s easy to get sidetracked by doing good, helpful things and convince yourself that it simply has to be done. But just because they’re good things to do, doesn’t mean they are the right things to do at this time.
The procrastinators of the world understand that this doesn’t just apply to writing or work or unpleasant things. It can carry over into our spiritual lives, and we have to be careful not to let it overtake us there. Sometimes God asks us to do something unpleasant. Maybe we are supposed to witness to a perfect stranger. (I know, that’s not unpleasant for some of you. For others, like me, it’s a level of unpleasantness that ranks right up there with a root canal.) Maybe God’s asking you to forgive someone that hurt you or forgive yourself for sins He’s long since forgotten. Perhaps what God is asking isn’t unpleasant, but it’s new for you and that makes it uncomfortable to begin. The unknown can be a scary, and begs for us to avoid it through procrastination. Maybe He wants you to start using the gifts and talents He has given you to minister to others. Maybe you’re supposed to start a new ministry or set aside a specific daily time to spend in prayer or God’s word.
Whatever God is asking of you, it’s easy to let ourselves get sidetracked by other good things. It goes something like this, “God, I know you want me to spend one Saturday a month feeding people at the shelter, but I don’t know anyone out there. Besides, that’s when the choir practices, and I was thinking of joining them.” Singing in the choir isn’t bad. It’s a good thing. But if it isn’t what God is telling you to do then it isn’t a God thing. In fact, when we know God is telling us to do something, and we keep coming up with excuses why we can’t right now, it’s worse than just not being a God thing. It’s actually a sin. James 4:17 tell us, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
We like to make the excuse that we aren’t not doing it, we just aren’t doing it right now. According to James, that doesn’t cut it. We can come up with a million and one reasons why we shouldn’t, but if God is telling us to do something none of those things matter. We can replace what God wants with a hundred other good, spiritual things, but if they are not what God is asking us to do, we are sinning. Turns out, there is no time for procrastinating in the kingdom of God.
By the Book: Spend some time searching your heart to see if there are things God has asked you to do that you’ve been putting off. If so, ask Him to forgive your unwillingness to do it and help strengthen you to follow through with what He wants.