“Now is the time.”
Those are the words the Lord whispered to a lady at a recent “Dare to Be Still” retreat. She wrote them on her rock, a final act of intentional remembering as we gathered to share what the Lord spoke to us during our stillness. You see, this friend is a declared procrastinator. She gets ideas, has nudges, even lets her to-do's rise to the level of guilt and shame. I listen with compassion as she shares her disappointment in herself.
I feel what she feels because I do what she does.
A few years ago I was visiting two cousins with my sister in California. One was hosting a party; the other had recently built a beautiful new home. Kay, the proud homeowner approached my sister and me and invited us to slip away for an hour and tour her lovely new house. Annie and I were eager. Then Kay back stepped.
“You might want to come tomorrow morning instead so you can see the view in better light.”
“Let’s go now,” my sister smiled gently. “I’m not promised tomorrow.”
None of us are, but the reality hits Annie every morning when she wakes up. She assesses which body parts might be working each morning as she pulls herself up in bed. When she was three Annie survived polio. Many didn’t. Now sixty-six years later, she suffers many of the same symptoms – and more.
It’s called Post Polio Syndrome. Many, who suffered through paralysis and lung machines and years of braces and agonizing therapy, don’t live to be sixty-nine. For those who do, many endure PPS – a second, horrific swipe at a body already limited.
Living close to Annie’s heart, as I’m blessed to do, puts my life in perspective. I appreciate hands that can hold a cup, feet that can walk, a neck willing to hold up my head. But the perspective I’m still striving to embrace is this one:
“I’m not promised tomorrow.”
When my heart is unsettled or in some way my life doesn’t match up with my belief system, I try to ask myself this question: “What is the lie I am tempted to believe?” In the case of procrastination, it is this one: "I’m guaranteed tomorrow."
I should know better. People I love have died. And my own body is less willing to move with the speed or ease it once did.
Lies are nasty things, especially when we tell them to ourselves. Sometimes I wonder what I’ve missed by counting on tomorrow more than taking action today.
What if I’d lived centuries ago in a place much different than here and now? What if I was a servant at a wedding in Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle?
Perhaps you know the story from John 2:1-5:
“The next day there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festival, so Jesus’ mother told them, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
I’m thinking the implication was: “Now is the time.”
In Mark Batterson’s book, Whisper, he writes, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” I yellow-highlight it. Read again and give it a red star and a turned down corner page – my way of telling myself to share this with you. In the margin I make one more note, as though inking it will somehow implant the truth into my own soul. “D.O. – Delayed Obedience.”
You probably catch the impact as I did after writing! “DO” is the opposite of disobedience, especially for a procrastinator.
Yesterday morning I spent wonderful hours lingering over breakfast with two girlfriends who share in the ministry of “Dare to Be Still” with me. Before, during and after eating I asked questions and took voracious notes. Their brainstorming was brilliant! God-inspired. Retreats, and more, will be even better because of their ideas. These precious sisters know me well and love me well. They are also gifted organizers. So with my hand sliding over my yellow legal pad filled with eight scratched pages of notes, I asked them, “Where do I begin?”
They suggested I rewrite the list with boxes to check off, categorize, prioritize, open a new folder in my “Dare to Be Still” computer file…
With great suggestions and hearts of love, they are helping me fulfill the words Mary told the servants in Cana: “DO whatever He tells you.”
I pray, “Lord, please give me the grace and diligence to obey NOW. What would have happened if the servants listened with good intentions to bring the six stone water jars… but instead, waited until later? Lord, I don’t want to miss Your miracles because of the lie that You have promised me tomorrow.”
I wonder what the Lord’s next Whisper might be if we had already…
* Contacted our friend
* Paid our bills
* Visited Grandma
* Sought forgiveness
* Sorted the closets…
* Established a time to read and listen to His Word
If we procrastinators acted on “Now is the time,” maybe He could stop the repeat holy nudges and move onto:
* Apply for the job
* Take the overseas trip
* Begin a Bible study
* Write a book
* Share the Gospel with a friend
* Take one step into your big dream
What might the world look like if all God’s beloved procrastinators leapt right through the lie that we are promised tomorrow and acted now? Ah, perhaps some stone jars would be filled with the best wine!
TO CONSIDER: Pause for a moment to listen for the last thing God asked you to do. I’ll pray for you, as I pray for myself, that we believe His words deserve a NOW response.