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

MLK, presidents, and me

This is a week of importance for Americans.

Yesterday marked the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when we’re encouraged to think about the issues he fought for. Tomorrow is Presidential inauguration day, ushering in a time of new leadership and whatever may come with that.

I felt like today’s blog post, sandwiched between these two national observances, should be insightful or meaningful or profound. Well, not necessarily profound – because I don’t consider most of what I say or write to fall in that category. That’s for people who are much deeper thinkers than me.

Bible verse love one anotherBut I still have quite a few thoughts related to these two events tumbling in my mind, so I’ll share a few with you.

I was raised in a time and place when many people didn’t necessarily embrace the issues raised by Dr. King. That sounds harsh, especially in today’s culture, but it was my reality. He was assassinated only a few years before I was born, which meant events were still fresh on people’s minds. Changing laws or perspectives or hearts is difficult, tedious work. It takes time. More time, for some, than what had passed by the late 60s and early 70s of my childhood.

Grappling with that realization as I grew old enough to be aware of it and understand what it meant was tough. To be honest, some days it still is.

I also was raised in a family that believed voting was a privilege to be exercised, but that politics were personal. My parents voted every time an election came around. In those days you stepped up to an available voting machine and pulled the curtain closed around you so that no one else in the room saw anything but your calves and shoes. There was just enough space for me to stand at their elbow as they flipped the levers for the candidates they voted for. The clicks and thunks of the levers carried such finality, sounded so official. Standing in that little closed-in space felt magical and secretive and special – and private.

I’m sure my parents could have discussed candidates and issues, but they never had those conversations in front of me. Maybe it stemmed from how they were raised themselves, but you truly let your vote be your voice instead of vocalizing your opinions on candidates to anyone who cared to listen. Talking politics was seen as tacky.

Wow, have we moved past that mindset as a society.

Talking politics still isn’t high on my list of favorite conversational topics. I research candidates and make my choices and believe that everyone else should be allowed to do the same. It’s one of our rights as American citizens.

Do we have to agree on who to vote for? No. Do we need to be respectful of each other’s opinions and find ways to move forward together despite those differences? I believe so.

Bible verse love one anotherAs I wrestle with these issues on a personal level, the words from John’s letters to other believers (1 John, 2 John, 3 John) keep rising above the muck: Love one another.

It’s a recurring message in John’s letters, but echoes what Jesus Himself taught: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 ESV) and “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV).

John walked with Jesus and was part of His inner circle. He was part of some events such as the Transfiguration that only a handful of people experienced (Matthew 17; Mark 9; Luke 9). He stood at the cross during the Crucifixion and was given the responsibility of caring for Jesus’ mother Mary (John 19). He was one of the first disciples to see that Jesus was no longer in the tomb (John 20).

He was gifted with a vision and was told to write it down in what we know as the book of Revelation.

Yet after seeing all these things, after experiencing face-to-face life with Jesus, the message John shared again and again was to love each other.

Everything of importance comes back to love.

I’m trying to remember that for myself. I’m trying to get better at putting it into practice myself.

As tired as I am of anything related to this election season, as bruised/battered/frustrated/angry as I felt at different times during the past year, it all comes back to loving each other and loving God.

It doesn’t matter which candidates you supported. It doesn’t matter which candidates won.

What matters is that God is in control. He is on the throne.

My job is to love God and to love other people, no matter who they are or what they believe. God will take it from there.

That’s what I hold to, especially in crazy or uncertain times (read my other post, Faithful Despite the Fear). I pray we reach a place someday where we’re able to do that together – as Americans, as Christians, as children of God.