God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” Hebrews 4:7, NIV
I have been a procrastinator my whole life. I imagine if I checked with my mom she would tell me I was even late being born.
I wish I had a dollar for every time she would address my procrastinating with this bit of wisdom: Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today. I remembered this as I read this passage in Hebrews.
Several times in scripture we are reminded that God’s word is today, now, this day. Our strength is being renewed day by day. The Israelites were fed manna daily in the wilderness. Jesus taught his disciples to ask for the daily bread and not worry about tomorrow because it has its own particular problems.
Just as clearly we then learn that Satan’s word is tomorrow. Moses asked when he wanted relief from the plague of frogs to which he surprisingly replied, “tomorrow.” Why wait? God can take care of it now? Makes no sense to me. So whether by procrastination, putting off until later, or worry about what tomorrow holds, Satan’s job seems to be to get us off focus of the present and presence of God in this moment right now.
As a counselor I encouraged families frustrated by negative behavior to consider that all behavior serves a purpose. This is even true of procrastination. Two primary purposes jump quickly to mind. First, we procrastinate or put off doing something in order to maintain control. I’m sure we’ve all seen how a three year old can dig in her heels in defiance. She doesn’t want to do whatever Mom wants. Even at her young age and diminutive stature she fights for some semblance of control. Sometimes it’s cute on a toddler—not so much on an adult.
The other purpose that procrastination serves is fear. I don’t do what I need to do because I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll fail. Afraid I won’t be perfect. Afraid I’ll disappoint. The way the twisted thinking goes is that if I don’t do anything then I can fail or disappoint. The problem with that is we don’t realize how often this disappoints those who are expecting us to do something. Bosses are frustrated when the job doesn’t get done. Teachers have little option but to fail us for not completing the assignment (or science fair project). And if I wait to the last minute and don’t have all I need to complete the task (whether it’s poster board or ingredients for class treats), then I can put the blame outside of myself. ..or at least try to.
While I am quick to assure others of this, I’m a little more reluctant to own it for myself. That doesn’t however make it any less true. I’m working to release my fears and my insane need to control everything. My family will tell you it’s been a series of pain-filled baby steps. It’s just not natural for me to surrender, not initially anyway. I know I will get there, but it’s a process for me. Thankfully God gives the strength to work on it each day, day by day, starting Today!