Procrastinating With Questions

WP Lent 2

We’re getting close to Easter. Can you feel it? Do you feel more “ready” for it than you have before? Are you moving beyond the familiar to SEE Jesus in new ways, different places?

Take John 3:16, for example. It’s quoted, tattooed, worn on t-shirts, and seen at every major sporting event…but can you put it in context? Do you know any of the verses surrounding it?

WP J 3 16

I turned to chapter three of John’s gospel and read it in the message and a new phrase leaped off the page at me. As the conversation unfolds, Jesus tells Nicodemus what he must do, but Nicodemus is full of questions–very pharisee-like. Finally, Jesus tells him: Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. (John 3:11, The Message)

Ouch. This habit of questioning may have been used by the Pharisees a lot…but they don’t have a corner on the market. The longer I can keep someone engaged in dialog or conversation, the more I act like I “don’t get it”–the longer I have before I have to DO it. If you can’t recognize this in yourself, maybe you recall how your children could come up with a hundred questions to avoid doing their homework or cleaning their room.

WP Too many Q

Here’s a quote that might help us put this in perspective: “If you ask too many questions, you will find no answers, only more questions.” (Monica Fairview)

I know the danger here. Someone is going to think I’m saying, “Don’t ask questions.” I’m not. God is able  to handle our questions and curiosity. But we know when we cross the line and venture into “Procrastination Land.”  That’s what God’s message is for us: Don’t go there.

And we’re not procrastinating to avoid making our bed or finishing our math. No, the stakes are higher. We’re avoiding change. We’re clinging desperately to the familiar to keep from having to release control. Just like with Nicodemus, God is calling us to action or deeper surrender, growth or faith.

So today, let’s determine to leave the security of our questions and trust God to really love us. That is what it says in John 3:16, after all.

WP For God so loved

PRAYER: God, thank you for loving us…so much, that you gave. Help us to move beyond our questions and procrastination so that we too can give…give our lives to you more fully, deeply, completely. Amen.


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!

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