You know what it’s like, jobs need doing, you have plans, important things need attention; somehow you get sidetracked, something else catches your eye, grabs your attention.
In ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’ Tim Urban explains our desire to be distracted from the challenges of life by the ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’. It’s a brilliant allegory of the psychology of procrastination and decision making.
He describes the ‘Panic Monster’ who appears now and again, at times of pressure or when we’re at risk of embarrassment and catastrophe, in order to shock us into action.
I wondered how procrastination affects the lives of those who are considering following Jesus, and of those who are waiting for his return?
Do we put off making our mind up about following Jesus? Do we leave it for another day to start thinking about our spiritual point of view?
This is what the Bible says about taking this opportunity now:
‘now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation’
2 Corinthians 6:2 (ESV)
I heard a great bible talk recently on the title ‘The Lord Delays His Coming’, where we considered why Jesus’ return seems to be taking so long, and why it seems to have been delayed; we thought about the affect this waiting has on our lives.
The Bible seems full of examples where God pauses his plans, for a variety of reasons, for example:
- The Israelites who spent a generation wondering the wilderness instead of going to the promised land themselves (Numbers 14);
- King Hezekiah who was told he would die, only for God to postpone Hezekiah’s death because of his devoted prayer (2 Kings 20).
The exciting thing is that these delays provide opportunities to you and I. They allow more people to benefit from God’s mercy, have the time to come to know the gospel message, and find salvation through baptism.
The delay of the Jesus in returning to the earth also poses questions and challenges for us to consider…
- Can we continue to wait in patience?
- How do we avoid becoming despondent or discouraged?
- Can we fight off a growing apathy?
- How can we keep our attitudes and behaviours in check while we wait for him to return?
These verses in Luke 12 show us the possible effect of this delay on our behaviour:
‘But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.’
Luke 12:45-6 (RSV)
We don’t know when Jesus will return, and the Bible suggests that we won’t be expecting it when he does. The apostle Paul describes Jesus’ return as coming as a ‘thief in the night’:
‘But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.’
1 Thessalonians 5: 1-2 (RSV)
The challenge for us is to make sure we don’t get distracted by the ‘Instant Gratification Monkey’ and loose sight of the return of Jesus. The time to respond to the Gospel is now, we can’t rely on the ‘Panic Monster’ to tell us; by then it’ll be too late.
‘He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’
Mark 16:16 (RSV)