I often have good intentions. Notwithstanding what has been paved with good intentions, I believe that thinking and planning and working toward good things is, in itself, a good thing.
Yet there is something to be said for actually accomplishing something. And, on occasion, I’ve been known to get a project all the way to completion. Not today, it seems, but on occasion.
Tomorrow night at church I will be teaching the first of five lessons on the book of James. I’ve been focusing on this study for almost two years — particularly in the ways that James approached conflict and its causes. I’ve learned a lot about this letter and I’ve taught this material in a number of settings. One of my big fears is that some of the good folks who have been in previous classes will come to the class. It’s not that I don’t want them there. I’m just thinking that it will be really awkward when they realize that they’ve been through all of this with me before and they’re wishing they had chosen one of the other classes.
I have learned more about the message of James since the last time I taught. In fact, I have some very fresh insights that I’ve been exploring. And I had good intentions of reconstructing all of my outlines to include them.
Things happen, however, and I found myself thinking during lunch today about how I would have this evening, at last, to retread the first lesson. As my email inbox bulged this afternoon with various and sundry requests from students and faculty, I struggled to keep up.
The biggest distraction was a late afternoon meeting. It was the second day that I was summoned to a late afternoon meeting of great import. Yesterday’s was informative and, I thought, fairly positive. Today’s was less so. Mainly because it was a follow-up meeting to yesterday’s and because there was little more that could be said. Don’t get me wrong. The meeting content was very important, but I was distracted by my experience because my fellow meeting-goers seemed, for the most part, really discouraged.
My initial reaction was to be frustrated with those around me. Then as I left the meeting I began wondering what, if anything, I could do to improve their demeanor and make things easier. Hence my distraction.
And I was pretty heavy into these thoughts of making things better when it struck me — maybe the idea that I could help my friends was being presumptuous.
And with the thought that my help was probably not what was needed, my distraction melted and I was left staring at the book of James. But it’s getting late. My demeanor is waning.
And tomorrow will be a better day. Do you think God sends distractions when he knows that our later efforts will be better? Or is that just one of the most innovative justifications of procrastination that you have ever heard?
Tomorrow night. James, the first chapter. Be there. I’ll be ready.