Friday, January 10, 2014


The job was immense, and I had put it off too long.  It was time to go through The Clothes.  We are very blessed that our children are right in the middle of a large group of cousins.  My sister-in-law (who would win a gold medal if closet cleaning were an Olympic sport) has kids who are older than mine with the same family dynamic, a boy sandwiched between two girls. My younger sister has a boy and a girl younger than my kids. Understandably, my house has become something of a revolving door for children's clothing.  What I don't spend in money to keep my kids clothed, I spend in time, changing out seasonal clothes, organizing what I've been given, and boxing up clothes to give to the younger ones.  This past season, I got behind.  I didn't organize what I had been given (often coming six bags at a time); the season change, always a dicey thing in Tennessee, got away from me, so my toddler was wearing jammies a size too small.   Every day that I delayed, the problem got worse.  Random piles of clothes multiplied, I had unorganized little dresses scattered in my den, and my niece needed the too small clothes my daughter was wearing.  

Procrastination is a problem I have long struggled with. I pulled many an all nighter in college, finishing an assignment or studying for a test.  When I was working, I ended up doing all of my CEUs in the last month before my license was due for renewal.  My reasons for putting things off have always been pretty simple.  The task is unpleasant or overwhelming, or I simply don't manage my time well. The results are always the same. I have less time to do a big job, and someone suffers.  Usually it's me, but sometimes my procrastination hurts others too.

The same could be said for my spiritual life.  I can think of several spiritual tasks that I have avoided or put off because they seem distasteful.  There are several books of the Bible I haven't studied because they are a chore to read (Job), and I've put off visiting sisters on Hospice because I'm uncomfortable with death. As ever, the best solution is to remember Jesus.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians:5-8).

Jesus's task was not only unpleasant; it was also big. Sometimes I put off doing a job because it is so big, I don't have the strength to face it.  Planning a Ladies' Day, memorizing a Psalm, or preparing to study the Bible with a seeker all seem like jobs that are beyond my skill.  That's because they are beyond my skill.  If I could do everything on my own, I would not have any need for Jesus.  Instead, I must remember that Jesus is the one who gives me the strength to follow his commands. 

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13). 

Of course, there are times when the jobs I face are big because I have already put them off for too long.  If I had just organized the clothes as I got them, I would not have had so much work later.   Although I know that the Bible tells me to make good use of my time (Ephesians 5:16), I don't always do it.  I have learned over time that for me, the best strategy is a "to do list."  A schedule is too restrictive, and it is hard to keep to a strict routine with small children.  But if I make a list (on paper, on purpose), I'm more likely to manage my time in such a way to get my tasks done.  Now I don't  just include jobs like dishes and laundry.  I also add spiritual tasks such as pray, read my Bible, teach my kids, or plan a ministry project.  If I ever need the motivation beyond checking off a task, I can always remember James' admonition: 

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

When I finally got around to working on the kids' clothes, it took me ten hours. Procrastination did nothing but make the job more unpleasant and more overwhelming.  I don't want service to my King to be the same way.  I want to keep in mind the big, unpleasant job Jesus did for me, and remember that he has not asked anything so onerous.  With his strength behind me, I can start right on those jobs that will further the spread of His Word. 


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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