God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture verses

How a puzzle reminded me of what the Bible says about procrastination

Tomorrow — June 23 — is Typewriter Day, so I’d like to share the story of the typewriter jigsaw puzzle in my office. And, as silly as it seems, how that puzzle reminded me of what the Bible says about procrastination.

what the bible says about procrastinationAs soon as I saw the puzzle on the shelf at our local bookstore, I knew I would buy it. After all, I’m a writer and the puzzle is an old typewriter. I was so happy to find that puzzle and could picture it framed and hanging on my wall at work.

What I couldn’t picture was how long it would take for that to actually happen.

Putting the puzzle together took less time than I expected. We finished it in about three days, with all four of us pitching in at different times. Then the anxiety set in.

I had never glued and framed a puzzle. And this one was a bit intimidating as a starting point since it’s contoured instead of straight-edged and big — a bit more than 20 inches across. What if I messed something up when I glued it? Once I glued the front, what if it fell apart when I flipped it to glue the back?

I dealt with the anxiety by ignoring it. The puzzle lay on the dining room table for a couple weeks, until just before family came over to celebrate our son’s birthday. I slid a piece of posterboard under it and carefully relocated it to my office downstairs.

That typewriter puzzle claimed a spot on my office floor for weeks … then months … then more months. As embarrassing as it is to admit, it stayed on my floor for more than a year.

Yes, more than a year. All because I was afraid something would go wrong when gluing and then taking it to the frame shop.

What a silly reason to procrastinate! I wish I could claim procrastinating is unusual for me, but it’s easy to do for all sorts of things. Scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Cleaning out the fridge. Starting a new exercise or eating program. Getting back to church after watching online services for so many months. Carving out prayer time. The list goes on.

For some situations, procrastinating can seem valid because something really could go wrong. In other situations, though, all procrastinating does is create a roadblock that doesn’t have to be there.

What the Bible says about procrastinating

Of course, the Bible includes plenty of verses chiding people who procrastinate, even labeling those people as sloths, sluggards and lazy. Ouch! Here are a few of those verses (realizing I’m not digging into their full context here):

  • But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. (1 Corinthians 14:40)
  • Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)
  • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)
  • As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9:4)
  • One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

It’s easy to agree that everything should be done “in a fitting and orderly way.” But to compare someone who slacks in their work to one who destroys? That’s a zinger.

We assign ourselves “to-do’s,” but some also come from God. While it’s clear that we need to do whatever work is in front of us, procrastinating on some things — like gluing and framing my typewriter puzzle — won’t necessarily make much difference in the big picture of life.

Procrastinating on the things we believe God wants us to do is more serious. Whatever those things might be, if God wants us to do them, He’ll show us how. We might not need to jump in and do everything overnight. But as long as we take small steps in that direction, God will help us keep moving where He wants.

We might even look back later and realize our procrastination was pointless. That’s what happened with my puzzle. I put several layers of glue on the front and nothing fell out of place when we flipped it. I put a couple more layers on the back and had no trouble getting it to Hobby Lobby. The framing department was having such a quiet day that they finished it while I wandered the store for a while (which is easy for me to do there!).

So, yes, the puzzle I procrastinated about for more than a year was mounted, framed and ready to take home less than an hour after I took it to the store. I hung it in my home office that afternoon instead of waiting to take it to work.

Now it’s a focal point that always makes me smile. And a constant reminder that the things that make me anxious — the things that tempt me to procrastinate — can sometimes be things that aren’t worth worrying about in the first place.

 

Lord, it’s so easy to put things off because we’re anxious about what might happen, but that’s crazy because we’re not the ones in control anyway. You’re the one in control and we’re so glad for it. Help us keep moving forward the way you want us to go instead of letting ourselves get bogged down by procrastination. Amen.


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Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Ash Wednesday: Sacrifices and social media

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. It’s a holy day that wasn’t commanded in the Bible, but Christians have observed it for well over ten centuries.

Early Christians would sometimes have ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a public symbol that they needed to repent from sin. According to historians, all Christians began to show their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.

We do the same during Ash Wednesday services today as a reminder that we’re all sinful and stand guilty before God. No matter how good we try to be, no matter how often we go to church or help others or pray, we still can’t save ourselves from our sin.

That’s why God sent Jesus – to be our Savior.

Lent is a time for us to think about this, to acknowledge anew that we’re sinful and mortal. Jesus saved us from certain death and separation from God because of our sin, but it wasn’t without a cost.

He took our place and accepted the punishment for all our sins even though He had none Himself. He knew what was coming – including being shunned, tortured, crucified, and separated from God – and He did it for us anyway.

We’re encouraged to use the weeks of Lent to remind ourselves of what God gave to us in Jesus and what Jesus gave to us in Himself. That can take different forms, depending on who we are and where we are in our faith at that point.

Some people will give up something as a tangible sacrifice to God. Whether it’s fasting, breaking a habit like smoking, or giving up chocolate, the idea is that we’re giving up something we enjoy as a way of showing our commitment to God and our desire to put Him first.

Other people will add something to their life during Lent that is designed to help them grow spiritually. We might commit to having more prayer time, to read through at least one of the Gospels in smaller chunks so we can really meditate on it, or volunteer in the community.

I’ve taken both approaches, depending on the year. And while giving up Diet Coke wasn’t nearly as serious as what some people do, it was a pretty big deal for a college girl who popped the tab on at least four cans of it a day.

The point is that we’re finding a way to mark this season, to think about what Jesus went through in the days and weeks leading to His crucifixion. To think about the gift He was willing to give us, despite what it cost Him during His time here on earth. To thank Him for that gift even though we’re so unworthy of it.

This year I’ll be doing a couple of things, one of which will be posting a Bible verse on social media each day that relates to this season of waiting and preparation. If we haven’t already connected there, I hope you’ll find me wherever you like to hang out and follow along (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook).

Your turn: I also hope you’ll consider finding a way to observe Lent for yourself and strengthen your relationship with God. If you do, I’d love to know what you choose. Leave a comment and let’s start a conversation.

Monday Musings, Scripture verses

Beautiful Eternity

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

 

The book of Ecclesiastes has thoughts and wisdom that I sometimes have trouble wrapping my mind around, but it also has certain verses that I can pluck out and cling to at certain times – and they’re exactly what I need to know.

Today’s verse is one of those for me. God made everything beautiful in its time – not my time or the world’s time, but in the time that God planned for it to be beautiful and perfect.

And I love the part about how God put eternity in our hearts. Isn’t that just a beautiful concept? God is eternal and wants us to be with Him – wants us to long to be with Him in eternity.

As happy as we might be or as perfect as things might seem, what we enjoy here on earth is barely a shadow of all the wonderful things God has for us in heaven someday. Of course, there’s also a flip side in life. As terrible or confusing or hard as things might seem, we can still hold to that same promise. Those things that hurt or that we don’t understand just help underscore the fact that God didn’t mean for us to spend eternity here. We’re travelers passing through, and someday we’ll look back and understand so much more than we do now.

That’s something I’m especially thankful for today.

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Also – be sure to come back on Wednesday, when I host my first guest blogger! Jodie Bailey will share about some things she’s learned lately in her writing journey. In the meantime, stop by Jodie’s website to learn a bit more about her and her writing.