When was the last time you had a home project, but you never got around to it? Or you want to finish college, but you never find time to register for the courses you need? Or you meant to get your oil changed, but now your car is 2,000 miles overdue?
Laura and I have had a project to paint our utility room for . . . let’s just say it’s been on our to-do list for quite some time. This is actually a pretty small project, but we simply never seem to get around to it.
A number of years ago I had a friend who gave me a small, wooden coin that had stamped on one side the words, “Round Tuit.” When he handed it to me he said, “Now, you can never make the excuse that you didn’t get a round to it.”
I read this the other day: “Procrastination is like a credit card. It’s a lot of fun until you get the bill” (Christopher Parker). The bottom line for those of us who tend to put off for tomorrow what we can do today is that we will never finish what we don’t start, and the “bills” will eventually come due.
Mark Batterson tells the story of “The Madonna of the Future” written by Henry James (Chase the Lion, 136-137). The fictional account is about “an artist who devoted her entire life to a single painting. When the artist died, it was discovered that the canvas was blank. She never finished because she never started, and she never started because of perfectionism” (idem.). Batterson then asks the question: “What’s your `Madonna of the Future’?” (idem.).
What dream are you not fulfilling, because of your fear of taking the first step? As the ancient proverb says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (Lao Tzu). The key is not to delay until tomorrow what needs to be done today. Laura and I teach our children that delayed obedience is still disobedience. If we call you to the dinner table, it doesn’t mean join us in an hour.
The Bible is full of God’s admonition for us to be diligent about doing what needs to be done today and not waiting until tomorrow. In the parable of the two sons, the father said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today” (Matthew 21:28). When Jesus looked up in a tree and saw Zacchaeus, He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). After Jesus’ conversation with him, He said, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9). The writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalm 95, which says, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts . . .” (Hebrews 3:7b-8a).
What’s your next step? Whatever it may be, it’s time to take it. Don’t let your quest for perfection keep you from stepping out where God calls you to go. Don’t let multiple options freeze you from choosing at least one of them. Pray, wait on the Lord, decide, and then go. A former Pepsi executive once said, “I’d rather have an 80% plan 100% executed than a 100% plan 80% executed” (Chasing the Lion, 135).
Turn your wish list into a to-do list, and then don’t forget the “do” part. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a utility room that needs painting, and it’s time for me to take my next step.