Friday, May 11, 2012

"The Gift of Procrastination"

Here I sit tonight, my thoughts rambling out through my fingers, when I really should be doing something else. Any number of things possibly, and a few things particularly.  And I should warn you, sometimes some of the things I write may be with tongue somewhat in cheek. When is it in cheek and how much? That's for me to know and you to wonder.

We have Summer Bible School starting about a month from now. We're one of the very few left that still do a two week Bible School and I'm the superintendent. And I have been for more years than I have fingers on both hands and maybe about as many as my fingers and toes. And I have yet to decide what I am going to use for the assembly at the end of each evening.

I've told Otto Koning's  "Pineapple Stories" and Silvia Tarniceriu's "God Knows My Size" both several times. After 4 or 5 years you have a new group of children who haven't heard these stories and you can use them again. I always leave Otto or Silvia in the worst possible situation at the close of each evening so the children will want to come back the next evening to hear what happened to them. We've been privileged to have both Otto and Silvia come and speak to us for the "program" evening.

I've also used nature stories several times and one year various short stories that taught a good lesson. Like Tolstoy's "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" and "They Grind Exceedingly Small". (can't remember who wrote that one)

But so far this year?? No inspiration just yet. This is a situation where the "planer", the "scheduled" person that likes to "have it all together" starts getting uptight. The truly gifted procrastinator doesn't lose his joy for at least several more weeks.

Now let me be perfectly clear. There are some things you shouldn't procrastinate on at all. Things like being at peace with your Maker. Like getting your crops planted and harvested on time. And you should never procrastinate when someone else will have to suffer for it. That's selfishness, plain and simple. That's how you can tell the difference between the low-down scum-bug procrastinators and the "gifted"ones.

One time last summer we were getting company on Sunday and we wanted the yard all mowed nicely and the place generally presentable. Now I'm the type of person that functions the best on a predictable schedule and sometimes I "fall apart" on the weekends. This particular Saturday I fell apart. I couldn't get going and laid around the house all morning. (I was tired too; sometimes I work pretty hard for an old man my age)  I rallied enough to eat lunch and then rested some more. I should mention too that the forecast was calling for rain that day.

Finally about the middle of the afternoon I made it out of the house and onto the lawn mower. An hour or so later I had just finished the last couple passes and was headed back to park the mower when the rain began to fall in earnest.

Mary asked me with begrudging admiration, (well, that's probably a little too positive) "How do you manage to DO things like this??" I mean, my timing was perfect; got the job done and just slipped in under the wire.

I tried to be modest. It's a gift, and you can't be proud of a gift.

There have been many times that I have begun to worry about something and all day I'm thinking tonight I must get on this thing whatever it is. Then I get home and get to thinking about it more and it comes to me that actually I could put it off for one more day. And you wouldn't believe the peace and joy that comes over you. I might pop up a big bowl of popcorn and relax on the couch with a logging magazine. All life's small pleasures seem to take on special meaning. Can't relate to that? Well, then obviously you're not gifted in this area.

If there's anything that makes me procrastinate, it's when the "something" that needs doing includes a phone call. I HATE having to make phone calls. I border on having a phobia about it. Now if you call ME, I'm fine. But if I'm calling you? Don't hold your breath waiting; it may not be today.(I think e-mail and text messaging are the best thing since sliced bread) And I'm fine to talk to people in person as well. Mary used to laugh at me; I would drive several miles to talk with someone so as to not have to call them up on the phone.

There's something else I'm wondering about procrastinators. I have a theory that if you studied it out you would find that procrastinators tend to be "evening" people instead of "morning" people.  I never have been able to figure out why some people waste all those wonderful, quiet hours of the night doing nothing but sleeping. Of course they wonder why I'm still sleeping then when those "wonderful" early morning hours roll around. I milked cows for years and years at the "wonderful" hours of 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning; I've had about as much wonder as I can stand. I'm a little like Otto Koning's wife Carol. He tried to get her to get up early enough to see the sunrise in New Guinea and she said  if God would have wanted her to see the sunrise, He would have scheduled it for later in the day. (By the way, Carol Koning is suffering from cancer and not expected to live much longer)

For years I felt so inferior to the "morning" people. Felt like a first class second-class citizen. I mean these people get up before daybreak and read their Bible and pray! (I read mine at night) They never procrastinate about anything. (I have the gift of it)

All the evangelists always try to encourage us in our devotional life. Take time each day, they say, but preferably in the morning when your mind is the "clearest". Well, in the morning my mind the clearest isn't. (think mud) I can't think straight 'till about 10 o'clock. When we were young married Mary used to think I was mad at her in the mornings when all I would do is grunt at her. I'm telling you, it was the best I could do. A one syllable grunt meant "yes", a two syllable (huh-umn) meant "no", and a three meant "I don't know". (MMM-mm-Mmph)

Anyway, late one night several years ago I was reading my Bible. I happened to glance over at the bedside clock. It read a few minutes after midnight. All of a sudden all those years of inferiority fell clean away.  Second class citizen no more! I'm getting about as early a start on the day as there is to be had! How freeing! TAKE THAT, all yall smugly superior "morning" people!!

 So if you're an evening-night procrastinating combination like me, take heart. There's a place in the Kingdom for you, too. And there is nobody (I repeat, nobody) that will appreciate the New Heaven and the New Earth as much as we will. That feeling of  not having to be pressured to do something TODAY. Because there will always be tomorrow and the day after that and the one after that and the one after that.

 It will be a joy that is right down our alley!


  1. I would suggest the book Miss Nancy written by Harvey Yoder. I have personally met her several times here in Belize. She is an amazing woman of faith!

    You do a wonderful job with summer Bible school. :) Thanks for your hard work!

  2. Merle, you speak my language! I'm trying to be one of those 'gifted' procrastinators and not of the 'low-down scum-bug ones':)

    greetings from Poland,
    Matt Gingerich