He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.
He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap
I believe that most of us can relate to hearing a sermon that stirred our hearts, or having a our conscience pricked towards improvement, or having our minds taken by a thought of something good to do…but then saying to ourselves “not right now, though…I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”
And in that is a most pernicious lie. For each of us knows from experience that when tomorrow comes, we do not make the change then either. The deceit is in thinking that we can even make a decision for what we will do tomorrow. We can not. Indeed we never make choices for future events. We have before us only a single moment called “the present” in which to make all our choices, and everything else is off the table.
And thus there is only one choice that we are making when we say “I will do it tomorrow.” What we really mean is “I will not do it now.” That is the one choice. “I could do it now…but I will not. I could be someone different here in this moment…but I will not be.” And if we will not be someone different now, then how could we hope to be the sort of person tomorrow that would make the good choice instead? Rather we will be the same procrastinator then that we are today.
Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today
The only way that any of us will ever change who we are, the only way that we will ever improve in the ways that we must, is if we make the decision to do so right now. There has never been a person in all of history that changed their life “tomorrow.” Do it today, or it won’t be done.
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance, the night of darkness cometh wherein there can be no labor performed
Take therefore no thought for the morrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
There is a great enemy to our making time for our God: our incredible ability to procrastinate. In fact it takes very little effort to convince us that we need more of God’s presence in our lives, but it is extremely difficult to convince us that we need it right now. Anytime I try to make more time for Him I feel a great hesitation, a preference to do it later.
I think part of the reason is that I know God will always be there for me. Any day, any hour, I can come to Him and He’ll receive me. But on the other hand, I have worldly relationships that might end, opportunities that I might lose, and fun that I might miss out on if I don’t make time for them immediately. So it becomes very easy to say “yes, I need you God…but let me take care of this other stuff first. I’ll get around to you tomorrow.”
But we have no direct, active control over tomorrow, do we? We only have direct, active access to the present. Think of it. In all the world and throughout all of history, the only time that anyone has ever made any kind of change…was in their right now. When I say that I will make time for God tomorrow, all I have really said is “I won’t make time for you now.” And if I won’t make time for Him now, tomorrow-me probably isn’t going to either. The only guarantee that any of us have is if we choose Him today.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day.
Labor while it is called today.
Yesterday we examined how it is difficult for us to choose unpleasantness in the moment, even when we know a greater good will follow afterwards. I mentioned how our bodies are constrained by the “now.” They do not feel tomorrow or next week, they only feel this moment. Therefore asking a body to experience discomfort in “this moment” is hard, no matter what. It always will be.
However there is a salvation in the body’s state of constant immediacy as well. It is this finite-ness that makes us wary of procrastination. Note how the above scriptures appeal directly to the our physical, time-bound natures: work during today, don’t procrastinate until the night.
Think of it this way: any time your body complains about discomfort in the now it is reminding you that the “now” is all you have to work with. Whenever I commit to repenting “tomorrow,” it is my temporal body that calls me out for making an empty promise. It knows that I can’t do anything tomorrow, only right now.
We are confined to only having a finite amount of time in this earth life, and in that finite time we are confined to only having the present to do any work in. These limitations are blessings! If we had infinity to work with then the pull of procrastination might be undeniable. It would become so much harder, perhaps even impossible, to feel motivated to accomplish anything. “Don’t worry, I’ll do it next century. I promise.”
It is the fear of our time limits that gives us the power to overcome the fear of present discomfort.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Yesterday we discussed the phenomenon we see of enduring discomfort in the moment so that one might obtain a better reward later on. One example is exercising now so that we can feel healthier over time.
And yet we still struggle to endure even the momentary pain, and the reason why is captured in the two snippets above. Each of them is taken out of context to only show the pain and discomfort stages. Each of them sounds entirely unappealing once the promise of reward has been removed.
But this more limited perspective is the constant state of the body. In our minds and in our spirits we may know the promise of the future, but in our bodies we only feel the immediacy of right now. As Jesus observed “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
And so I knew I needed to study for my tests in school, I knew that would result in better grades and a better future, but for right now I really wanted to play this new video game. Telling me that I could always play the game later wasn’t much help because I wasn’t concerned about having fun later, I was concerned about right now.
Denying oneself pleasure for the greater good seems to go against our nature, then. More accurately, it goes against one of our natures: the physical nature. But we also have a spiritual nature, and it maintains constant tension against the physical one. But this isn’t to say that the physical nature is all bad. Perhaps it produces the conundrum, but as we will see tomorrow, it also delivers us from it!