“Never trouble trouble ’till trouble troubles you!”
“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.”
“It’s not the ups and downs in life that’ll get you, it’s the jerks!”
My Dad had a host of quips and quotes that remain as whimsical sound bites from his 53 years of ministry. Some originated with people who influenced him: authors, teachers, poets, parents and preachers, while others were reminiscent of growing up in a time when such pearls of wisdom were valued and repeated often, passed down from generation to generation in a farming community. Still others, or so I am told, came from signs on the barber shop walls where he used to get his hair cut!
“I hate the guys who criticize and minimize the other guys
whose enterprise has made ’em rise above the other guys!”
“Never kiss by the garden gate. Love is blind but the neighbors ain’t!”
As a teenager, those favorite sayings of his were sure to elicit a groan or rolling of the eyes from me. I wondered if anyone else noticed how many times he’d repeated them. But there was one in particular that got under my skin a little bit because he had a real knack for knowing when I least wanted to hear it and would deliver it with gusto, even though it wasn’t necessarily directed toward me:
“You know what an excuse is, don’t you?
It’s just the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie.”
Ouch! Let’s be honest – we all make excuses for things we don’t want to do (or don’t believe we can do) and our culture encourages it. Even in church. In the name of being sympathetic and understanding, we need to be careful we don’t ease someone else right out of a commitment or worse yet, their calling. We have become experts at justifying a lackadaisical, non-sacrificial, Christian-like existence and highly skilled at encouraging others to do the same.
Well, you can sugarcoat it but it’s just an excuse!
When you know what God wants you to do, and he’s provided repeated opportunities to act on it but you haven’t, you’ve opened up your heart to a slow process of decay that sets in and festers every time you repeat the lie. Others know it, too, but they may slap a band-aid on it and repeat it with you anyway, so as not to make you feel badly. And then everyone goes about their business, never really speaking the truth and never knowing what it’s like to experience the fulfillment of growth or the thrill of victory; seeking every day yet another distraction to take away that gnawing sense of defeat.
It’s just an excuse – it’s what you do;
And each time you choose to use it you lose
And you just can’t win!
Excuses breed mediocrity and failure, and while I don’t like the sound of either one of those outcomes, I am pretty sure I have employed my share of excuses. They have the potential of destroying relationships and integrity, and are harsh in their treatment of cherished dreams, subjecting them to a slow and painful death. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of that!
Excuses have whittled away some of the best years and greatest opportunities of my life. Some were born out of vulnerability and weakness, others in pride; all of them desperately trying to hide a lack of faith in the One who promised to fulfill His good purpose in my life.
But that was then and this is now! I keep reminding myself that as long as I wake up every morning to a brand new day in this old world, I have yet another opportunity to do something with the time and talents God has given me – something of value for the next. I am committed.
How about you?
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9a