Confession: I am a Procrastinator (with a capital P). If it can be put off, I do. I begin with good intentions, making plans and lists, gathering all the supplies I need well ahead of time. I’m rarely late with assignments or projects. But I get complacent; “I’ve laid all the groundwork, and getting started is half the battle, right?” I vastly underestimate how long things take. I get swamped with numerous little projects all vying for my attention at once, increasing the last-minute panic. We’re not even going to talk about those college projects. Everyone says what a horrible thing procrastination is, and certainly it causes a lot of unnecessary stress and cut corners. And while I don’t pretend procrastination is healthy for me, there’s a secret code within it that always produces my best work – urgency.
It’s surfacing right now. I am less than three weeks away from moving out of state to work in a Christian school. There are boxes everywhere; I wisely did quite a lot of packing early. And yet as I sit here writing, I’m struck by how much more there is to do; do I pack this? or donate it? throw it away? What’s waiting for me when I get there that there’s no use buying first? Why do I have so many books? Why can’t I be boring and have one or two small, easily packable hobbies? And then there’s Christmas shopping and decorating. There’s last-minute meet-ups with friends. And events all month long. Finishing up piano lessons. Writing blog posts and editing graphics. Urgency. I can hardly sit still. This is really happening! Get moving!
John 16 shows us how loathe Jesus was to leave His disciples; there was so much He still wanted to do and say and simply didn’t have time to get it all done. But He continues to assure them, “I’m coming back! Keep your shoes handy!” Revelation 22 captures this urgency; John has just got through eighteen solid chapters of prophecy, unfolding the drama of the end of the world and all the mysteries yet to be fulfilled. He’s trying to land this plane and close the prophecy, but Jesus keeps butting in. “Behold, I come quickly!” “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you!” Write this down, John; I’m not kidding! This is really going to happen! How excited He must be to return, to get this eternal party started; how eager to bring the old earth to a close and start anew with the ones He loves!
If I could anticipate His coming with the same urgency that I pack for a move, how much different would my life be? Of course I need to occupy my time wisely until He comes; of course I need to be a good steward of my practical resources – but I need to see this world in a much more temporary light, as He does. “Behold, I come quickly!” What do I really need between now and then? What can I lay up in store for after the move so I won’t rush out in a blind panic to buy oil for my lamp at the last minute? What’s available in Heaven that I don’t need to waste my time or money or energy on here? What’s important to complete before I go? What is irrelevant to eternity?
My mother often said that death is nothing to fear; it’s simply moving without a U-Haul. Since she went home to Heaven, I’ve realized through the things she left behind, how fully she lived that truth. She kept what was useful or beautiful to her here, or what grew her, or what reminded her of God’s grace thus far. She didn’t keep a lot of surplus junk, either in her possessions or her lifestyle. I’d never call her a “minimalist” in any respect; there was nothing spartan about her style. But everything was edited down to the things that mattered most to her. Perhaps this is a lesson she learned from frequently having to pack a U-Haul over the years, sometimes with very little advance notice. Perhaps in her lifestyle she never got complacent in her “pre-packing” of salvation or ministry or family, but continued to live with the urgency of “surely I come quickly”.
So as I close this post and go to pack some more boxes, I want to evaluate not only my possessions, but the things I give my time and energy to – are they going to mean a thing in eternity? What do I absolutely need in my life between now and Heaven? What can I “store up” to send on ahead? He’s coming quickly and I haven’t got time for this nonsense. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.