The Christian life is a journey that starts by faith and continues by faith. That may seem obvious, but it is surprising how often we begin well and then fail to continue in the same vein, perhaps thinking of faith more as a propellant than an ongoing fuel.
In the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30), the Master commends the two servants who use their treasures boldly and resourcefully, but the third “who prudently wrapped up his money and buried it typifies the Christian who deposits his faith in a hermetic container and seals the lid shut. He limps through life on his grade school catechism and resolutely refuses the challenge of growth and spiritual maturity. He wants to take no risks. But precisely because of this, he loses the gift entrusted to him.” (Brennan Manning, ‘A Glimpse of Jesus: Stranger to Self-Hatred)
When we hear God’s voice calling to us, we have a choice. We can follow the direction of that voice (which may well mean leaving all that seems familiar and secure and safe) or we can stay where we are, refusing to move in this new direction (because of fear or because we prefer the old life to that which is on offer.) Quite often, we don’t think of the crossroads in those terms. We view procrastination as a ‘waiting period’ and I’m certainly not saying that we don’t have to ponder and reflect, especially life-changing decisions. But quite often ‘endless delay creates more problems than it solves’ and ‘we postpone a decision (which is a decision itself), hoping that the Storyteller will grow weary of waiting and that the imperious inner voice will get laryngitis.’ (ibid.)
If we are to continue to grow in faith, we need to be aware that we have to not only hear God’s voice but heed it. James has been blunt about this: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22) and “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:17) Procrastination is very different to listening and hearing God. Procrastination is really putting off the thing you know you ought to do because, deep-down, you don’t want to. There may be good reasons why you don’t want to, but no reason is good enough to say ‘no’ to God!
“Procrastination means that we stop growing for an undetermined length of time; we get stuck. And with the paralysis of analysis, the human spirit begins to shrivel. The conscious awareness of our resistance to grace and the refusal to become who we really are brings a sense of oppression.” (ibid.) We can fight God all we like, but we are the losers if we win that battle…
If you are in that place of indecision and procrastination, fearful to take that new step of faith, wary of what God is saying to you, it is easy to listen to voices that urge caution and hold back. “Only Jesus Christ delivers us from indecision,” says Brennan Manning, and I would agree with that. The inner voice of the Spirit, prompting us to leave our comfort zones and continue to walk by faith, stirs us and moves us forward. The alternative is to live fragmented lives, lacking in harmony, and to miss out on a new adventure in God. The world has a proverb: ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ I think the Master approves of that one!