I had one of those holy crap moments this morning. I looked at the calendar and realized we are almost halfway through February 2012. I am sure to most of you this has not come as surprise as you have by now stopped writing 2011 on things requiring a date, and your calendars are all on February. My shock was because I had been playing the role of the procrastinator for a good part of December. There were several tasks needing attention but I kept delaying them until I returned from a mission trip to Columbia. Because of this projection of activities I thought I had all kinds of time to get to these activities in the future. My realization this morning was the future of December has become the past of February. What was in the windshield is now in the rear view mirror.
It is with more than our schedule that we do this. There are those changes in our life which we know we need to make. This time of year they are called resolutions and if you are like most you have already failed on most of the resolutions you set out before yourself just a few short weeks ago. There was great intention of change, perhaps even a plan, but there was always tomorrow, better known as the day when I will get started. Then we reach today and find we have not gotten started and the intended start date is not longer in front of us but behind us. Rather than simply starting to change our lives we first lament about the ways we missed the opportunity. Rather than deciding today will be the day we do what we know we need to, we often give up because we feel like we missed the opportunity. In fact, that is what happens most often when the future becomes the past, we simply give up for a later attempt.
As I look around at this glorious mystery called the church I find we suffer from a similar affliction. I do not talk to many people who say there is not need for the church to change. To be clear they are out there, you know the people who think things are just fine and if the church dies with them that is fine. However, most people recognize the church needs to go through a season of adaptation if it is going to be a vital and healthy collection of disciples of Jesus Christ. The challenge is not in recognition it is often in action. Someday we will get started with making changes, or I know we need to change it is just that I know it will make people unhappy if we change things. There is my all time favorite, we want new people to come to the church, we just want them to do it on our terms. In other words sometime in the future.
For many a faithful congregation the future has now become the past and the death rattle has begun. The death rattle is the sound someone makes shortly before they die. I am sure there is a deeply medical reasons for the rattle but all I know is when I am sitting with a family as they say goodbye, I know when I hear that sound the time is short. For the better part of 25 years, some argue longer, the church has seen the need to change and adapt to meet the challenges of being a disciple of Jesus Christ in the present age. For the same time frame it has always been couched in a 3-5 year plan, in the future. Yes change takes time, however it cannot happen unless the first steps are taken.
Let us put an end to the procrastination. Personally, if it is time to do more than think or talk about the gym, get started today. If it is time to do more than stare at the closed Bible on the coffee table, do it now. If it is time for the church to adapt, take the first step today. It will take time. Still the future will once again become the past if we do not make a move.