Are you a procrastinator? Do you ever put off today what you could easily and better do tomorrow? Does tomorrow ever come? These are questions we have asked before, and sometimes quite often.
In the golden age of radio there was a fantastic show called “Fibber McGee and Molly”, a wonderful comedy filled with a multitude of creative gags along with a motley crew of interesting characters. Nothing was more famous (infamous?) on that show than the hall closet. While it was not something that occurred in every show, that closet door was opened enough so that you always looked forward to what happened as a result. You see, that hall closet was the one place Fibber McGee could always put something he would need “later” (whenever that would be).
Ultimately, all those “laters” never arrived and all those things just kept piling up until one day when the door was opened, usually by Molly, the bric-a-brac from laters-gone-by comes falling out in the here and now, burying Molly in the process. One of Fibber McGee’s classic comments every time that hall closet door opened and all that stuff fell out, was ”I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days.” It’s just that “one of these days” never seemed to arrive, and for almost 30 years on radio, that hall closet brought down the house filling it with laughter.
Spring is a time for cleaning house, for new paint jobs, yard sales, and generally freshening up all around. It is the time when we try to get things done so that the summer will be more pleasant because those things we accomplished in the spring put everything in order.
Well, there is nothing wrong with thinking about a little spring cleaning or hall closet organizing, as the case may be, with regard to spiritual things as well. The dreariness of winter brings with it, if we are not careful, the doldrums of attitudes that have for too long been shut up in the houses of our hearts. The Bible tells us to “Guard your heart, for from it come the wellsprings of life” (Proverbs 4:23). This gentle challenge from God is a two-pronged warning.
First of all, we need to guard what goes into our hearts. We need to carefully screen not only what we look at, what we listen to and what we read, but also what attitudes we allow to creep into the very center of our being. Do you know how very simple it is to let things like pride (I deserve this! I’m good!) or discouragement (“Why can’t things work out better?”) or similar attitudes get us down? I for one am convinced that one of the greatest tools ever conceived by the enemy of our souls is the tool of discouragement. And I discover that if I am not carefully guarding my own heart, discouragement and defeat can lead to despair.
So how do I get through these things? By procrastinating? By saying, like Fibber McGee, “I gotta get that ….. changed one of these days”? I seriously doubt that approach will ever be successful.
God’s Word tells us to “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5). Then just a short time later, He tells us to, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). In other words, we need to deliberately choose our own attitude. We need to do what we know is right to do and think what we know is right to think.
One of my absolute very favorite places in all the world to visit is the World-Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington. One of the main reasons why that market is world famous is that one of its basic philosophical underpinnings is to “Choose Your Attitude.” This small but phenomenal business venture has been in business since the 1930s. But its latest and most successful efforts have come in the last 50 years or so. During that time, they have done everything they can to redefine customer service. The current owners, with a combined experience at that very market of over 60 years, make it very clear that good customer service begins in the heart of the employees. The challenge for each of the 15 or so employees of this world famous business is to start each day with the anticipation of what that day will bring. In the process, they have indeed created not just a business, but an experience for everyone who walks in.
The challenge for the follower of Jesus is to do much the same thing for everyone you meet. Don’t put it off. Choose your attitude today! And make it a godly one!
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at [email protected]