When I’m under pressure I have the bad habit of procrastinating. As my deadline looms ever closer, I find myself rebelling against the clock. I have plenty of excuses for what I’m doing. I’m tired after a long day at work. I need to make dinner. There’s a new Hallmark movie starting soon. And if the procrastination is to its highest levels, I need to wash the dishes.

I’m ashamed to say the excuses win out in the fight for my attention. And they are all true and some even good things. My husband is thrilled to come home to a clean kitchen despite the fact that it’s simply a way to further my procrastination. I’m not sure why I do it. I know I shouldn’t do it. I want the pressure to end, but the pressure is what pushes me into procrastination mode. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s one only I can break.

Andi Hollister from Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley understands excuses all too well. For years, she has worked to put her sisters murder behind her. Days before the murder’s execution is to take place, circumstances bring to light the possibility that the wrong man is about to die. Andi is hesitant to accept this. Her excuses range from a confession and subsequent conviction to simply not having the strength to face the pain of losing her sister all over again.

Andi is a go-getter when it comes to her job as a reporter. She doesn’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to get her story. When her attitude leads her into trouble and friends and family tell her she needs to slow down and let God lead her in her actions, Andi has excuses at the ready. The stories need told. Why should she ask for help when she can do it herself? Why should she wait on a God that took her sister from her?

While Andi is searching for the truth about her sister’s murder, she becomes a target herself. Tracking down answers to questions that should have been asked during the first investigation puts Andi in harms way and aggravates an old back injury. It’s this injury that give birth to Andi’s most devastating excuses.

To deal with her physical pain, Andi was prescribed a pain medication. While she knows in her head that pain medication can be dangerous, she has convinced herself that she is immune to becoming addicted. Even as her drug use causes issues for her in her quest for the truth, Andi continues to make excuses. She’s too busy to have the surgery that will correct the back problem. She was prescribed the medication. She’s too smart and capable to fall into the pit of addiction. She is only using when she has pain. Even when she begins to see a problem developing in her use, Andi convinces herself one more dose can’t hurt anything. Besides, she needs it to finish the job.

Some excuses, like the ones I use to justify procrastination, don’t have a great potential for causing harm in my life. They need put in their proper place and dealt with, but missing deadlines and sleepless nights cramming to get the job done are more than likely the worst results I’ll face. Excuses like those Andi uses to justify her drug use are far more deadly. Continuing drug use could cause her to lose her job, her health, and endanger herself and others. The ripples of those choices can keep going forever.

Andi’s excuses to misuse her prescriptions may sound horrible to us, but we need to consider how often we make those types of excuses in our own lives. It may not be for drug use, but how often do we excuse sinful behaviors that come between us and God? How often do we excuse a lie with the idea that it’s only “a little lie”? How often do we gossip about others excusing it because “it’s true”? How often do we ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit because “we must not have heard Him correctly”? The list could go on and on. We sin in our anger and call it justified. We choose to say or do things we know are not godly because of what others will think of us if we don’t.

We excuse our behaviors as being necessary and not harming anyone, and we can’t honestly say that. And just as bad are the times when we acknowledge our sin and laugh it off because “everyone does it” and “God will forgive it because He knows I’m human”.

It doesn’t matter what excuse we use. Sin is sin, and it puts a wall between us and our heavenly Father. It’s time to rid ourselves of the excuses, acknowledge our sins, and turn away from them. Only when we get rid of the excuses can God work in us to make us more like Christ.