Later

Later

Luke 9:57-62  As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

A "later" too easily becomes a "never."

“I’ll do it later.” It was a cold Saturday, and I was snuggled up on the couch with my pumpkin coffee, phone, and a book, listening to the raindrops hit the windowpanes outside. I had grocery shopping to do, there was a hamper full of dirty clothes waiting to be washed, and the infamous vacuum cleaner was waiting for a chance to eat the dustbunnies out of the carpet. The good news about “later” was that it felt better than acknowledging I wasn’t going to shop or clean that day. “Later” was always beyond the present moment, never turning into “now” by itself—unless I wanted it to.

But later in the week when I had no underwear left and only peanut butter and potatoes left in the cupboard, I regretted my procrastination.

“I’ll do it later.” Maybe you have a story like mine. While it’s said that 20% of the population are chronic procrastinators, putting things off is something that most of us have experience with. Most of us have spent hours doing things like watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, or shopping online when you should have been spending that time on more important tasks. But we also procrastinate in other areas of life, especially in our relationship with God: we say we’ll spend quiet time alone with God later; we’ll go to church later, when we’re not busy; we’ll be generous later, when we have enough money; we’ll admit we messed up later; we’ll forgive him/her later; we’ll help someone in need later; we’ll visit later; we’ll pray later. But Jesus knew what we know—that sometimes, “later” never comes. The men who encounter Jesus on the road in Luke 9 each express their desire to follow Jesus, but they also indicate they will need to do so “later;” they’re busy with a house to sell, an inheritance at stake, and people (especially family) who could get upset with them. Jesus never says these things aren’t important to consider. But it’s because of their insistence and order that he questions these guys. After all, will it be three days, three weeks, three months, three years, or three decades? Jesus responds seemingly in a harsh way because he sees trouble when obeying him is seen as something to do “later.”      

We all have something we don’t want to do or we’ve been putting off til later. Maybe it’s taking the time to listen, to give, to reach out, to make a call we don’t want to make, to take a journey of trust in Jesus that we know we need to take. But taking the step to follow Jesus first means we must put our fears and unknowns and other things in their place, behind what he’s been calling us to do for a while now.

On Today's Road: What have you been putting off for a while now—vocationally, relationally, spiritually? What things that have been dominating your time and energy do you need to put in second place, behind obedience to Christ?