The kitchen counter at Safe Haven Farm after a week (or two or three), Haven, KS

Facing anxieties like ripping off a band-aid

I am a procrastinator, at least when it comes to things I don’t want to do. If it’s something I’m passionate about, I’ll jump up and do it right away, with zeal! But if it’s something I don’t really have interest in doing anyway? Well, it can wait until later. After all, I don’t really need it right now, do I? It’s not important, right?

Wrong. It may not be important now, but it will be important later. And later, when you have run out of time to do a good job on it, you’ll be wishing for the time you wasted back again.

Why is it so easy to procrastinate? I know I’m not the only one out there, and it confuses me. Because I’m a rational person. Some might even call me a wise person. But still–even though I know the consequences–I would often rather face the consequences and do what I want instead of doing what I should do.

It irritates me. But I guess it doesn’t irritate me enough to change. Take my dishes for example (please, take them). If you’ve been reading my posts for a long time, you’ll remember a few other times that I’ve posted about my amazing, alarming stacks of dishes that pile up. It’s not that I don’t like doing dishes. It’s just that there are other more important things to spend my time on. Dirty dishes don’t bother me. They only bother me when I know people are coming over and I know a countertop overflowing with dirty dishes will make me look irresponsible. Then I care about my dishes, and then I spring into action. Of course, it takes ten times longer than it would have if I just did them earlier.

The kitchen counter at Safe Haven Farm after a week (or two or three), Haven, KS

The kitchen counter at Safe Haven Farm after a week (or two or three), Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Hebrews 12:11.

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Living a disciplined life isn’t easy, and there never seems to be an end to it. Because the moment you conquer one aspect of your life and bring it under control, another area seems to let go. Living a disciplined life feels like trying to hold on to sand. The more you grab, the more keeps slipping through your fingers. You bring one area of your life under control, but when you let go of it to seize another area, you lose your grip.

The trick is finding the balancing point, where you are able to live and live well according to how God would want. But you won’t get there overnight. And the journey isn’t easy. And I can guarantee you’ll never get there if you procrastinate.

For me, it’s convincing myself that acting immediately is better than acting later. That requires a change of thinking. But how do you do that? I’m still trying to work it out, but I can tell you that my main reason for procrastination is anxiety.

When I’m facing a challenge that seems completely out of my control, the last thing I want to do is jump in with both feet, especially if I’m on my own. No, I back off and let everything settle. I let myself calm down, first, because jumping in unprepared rattles me, and I can’t recover when I’m challenged. But once I’ve backed off, it’s much easier to keep backing off. It’s much easier to find something more important (or more urgent) to focus on instead of doing what I should be doing, and I rationalize it telling myself that I’m not ready or that I’m not qualified enough.

Lies. Lies that spring from anxiety and insecurity. None of which comes from God .

Facing challenges is so much better if you treat them like a band-aid. Don’t just pick at it. Rip it off. Get it over with. The sooner you get over the pain, the sooner you can get on with life. And if we could look at our uncomfortable life situations that way too, I think we’d all be a lot happier and a lot less stressed. Because that’s ultimately what procrastination leads to. Stress, stress, and more stress, and eventually a poor job done because you didn’t give yourself enough time to do a good job.

Learn to be disciplined enough to shut out those anxious lying whispers when you’re faced with a challenge that scares you. No, don’t be foolish. Don’t just jump into something that you can’t handle. But don’t run away from it either, especially if it’s something you have to do, for work or for ministry or whatever.

Discipline is hard work, but if you can learn it, if you can live with it, if you can figure out a way to integrate it into your life, life itself will get a lot better, and you’ll reap the rewards of it.

So how do you do it? Well, it starts with knowing what the right thing to do is. Know what you’re supposed to do and then choose to do it. It’s that simple.

No. Not easy. It will take time and sacrifice and dedication and commitment. But the choice to act is ultimately simple, and the satisfaction you’ll feel once you’re finished will be worth it.

So why are you wavering between choosing to act or choosing to retreat? You know what you’re supposed to do. So do it.

Now.

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Tiger at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Fearless

What does it mean to have confidence? If you check the dictionary, which is a good place to start if you’re looking for the definition of a word, confidence is full trust. It’s the complete belief that an object will perform or that a person will keep their word. Confidence usually comes from repeated experience where the person or object in question proves over and over again that he/she/it can be trusted.

Confidence is difficult to earn in today’s culture. Trustworthiness isn’t something you find everyday. If you want someone to trust you, you have to work hard to prove it, especially in our culture of skeptics and realists. Not that skepticism or realism is necessarily wrong, but they do get in the way if you are trustworthy and people refuse to trust you because they’ve had bad experiences with other people.

Tiger at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Tiger at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Hebrews 10:35-36.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

I love the book of Hebrews. Someday I’m going to do a study just on it. I don’t claim to understand everything that’s in it, but the pieces I do grasp always leave me speechless at God’s great love and willingness to bring us into His family.

In this section, the writer is encouraging the readers to persevere, not to give up, and to remember that God is worthy of their trust. That phrase used in verse 35 (παρρησιαν), confident trust, is better translated fearless confidence. Think about that. Fearless confidence.

Wouldn’t you like to have confidence without fear? I sure would. There are so many things in life right now that could go wrong, so many things that have gone wrong, that being able to move forward in confidence with no fear would be miraculous. I’m not a fearful person generally, but I have anxieties and worries like anyone else. I have an active imagination and a brain that never stops racing, so I can come up with worst case scenarios with the best of people.

Fearless confidence isn’t something that only super Christians can claim. It’s something each of us has access to. Fearless confidence stems from trusting God completely, and I honestly think we all start out fearless. And then the “realities” of life set in and we give in to the normal anxieties we face on a daily basis.

If you read the verses before this, the writer is talking about how the early church used to be, when believers trusted God so deeply that no matter what happened to them, they didn’t fret or fear, whether it was persecution or theft of their belongings. But the longer we live and the longer we wait for Christ’s return, the more we have to go through, the more trouble we have to face, the more difficulties we feel like we have to overcome. And after a while it wears us down, and even though our confidence isn’t shaken necessarily, the little fears start creeping in.

But that’s not the way we’re called to live. We are called to live fearless.

Have you ever had a moment when you and God were on the same page? I don’t know how to describe it, but you know it. His presence is practically tangible, His voice is almost audible, and in that moment there’s no doubt in your mind that He can do anything, even though He’s acting through you. I wish I could say those moments were common in my life, but they’re not. But I have experienced them.

In those moments where God is so real to me that I would swear we were walking side by side, I’m not afraid of anything. I’m not afraid of what I’ve done in the past or what people will do to me in the future, because in those moments all that matters is Him. When all that matters is Him, you don’t have room for fear.

But fear is tricky. It’s stealthy and deceitful. Fear makes us think that we can accomplish something. Fear makes us feel like we have power over our lives, even though all we’re doing is turning our hair gray and making more work for ourselves. And when it comes down to choosing between fear and confidence, many of us choose fear because it gives us something to do. But fear isn’t worth it. It’s hollow and empty and useless.

And deep inside, we know that there’s no comparison between fear and God, but we choose fear anyway because it’s something we can control–or at least that’s what we think.

That’s what the writer’s talking about here. Don’t throw away your confidence in God because you run into trouble. Don’t choose fear over confidence because you can’t control what’s coming. God has a history of keeping His word, and He’s made us a doozy of a promise. But if we don’t hold on to that trust in Him, we won’t see it.

The world will tell you that fearless confidence is foolish, that trusting anyone on that level is just asking for disappointment. But since when were Christ-followers supposed to take the world’s advice?

God knows what’s He’s doing, and we can’t control our lives anyway. Better to trust Him, to live fearless, and keep moving forward.