The guitar sits in the repair section of my music store, waiting. This procrastinator is completely flummoxed this time. Three weeks ago, the electric guitar made its way, finally, onto my work bench. When he brought it to me, the owner was unfazed by my suggestion that the delay might be two or three weeks. He has other guitars and doesn’t need this one desperately, so a few weeks delay while a new pickup was installed wouldn’t be any problem. That was six weeks ago.
When the guitar went on my work bench, it was because I realized that the deadline was looming. Two weeks had passed, with a barely heightened sense of urgency. But, three weeks…that was the promised delivery date. So dutifully, a day or two before the deadline, I moved the guitar from its, by now, accustomed place on the back counter to the cluttered bench. This job would be quick and painless. It was neither. Oh, the old pickup removal was fast and easy. Screws removed, solder joints heated and wires taken loose, then the wire was pulled out of the cavity which led between the pickup and the controls. It was out! No sweat. Then I realized, too late, that the cavity was crammed with more wires than is customary for its size. The new pickup came out of the box and the truth really hit me. There is no way this wire will fit through that cavity! The diameter was much larger than the one I had just removed. The cavity would have to be expanded. This meant that all the other wires would have to be temporarily de-soldered and removed, the cavity drilled out, and then the wires could be repositioned and heated to solder them into place once more. I don’t have the time to do this job.
The guitar sits in the repair section of my store, waiting. Oh, I will finish the job, but just not today…probably not even tomorrow. Perhaps some more convenient time will present itself, eventually.
My mind is drawn back to a Saturday afternoon in South Texas, many years ago. The fourteen year-old boy has decided that he needs to take a little more interest in helping his fellow man, so he has agreed to participate in a March of Dimes Walkathon. He dutifully asks a few adults for sponsorships and receives pledges amounting to the staggering sum of twelve dollars. He will walk some twenty-one miles on this warmer than normal October day, but it is a distance he is sure he will have no problem completing. Although not a competitive event, he still has visions of finishing before any of the other hundred or so walkers. The prospect of his name being mentioned on the local popular music station is enough to fuel the dream. On the appointed day, the walk begins at the local high school, and a large contingent of older people are soon left far behind. Along the way, four or five young men join together with our hero and they buy into the dream of the young man, jogging along with him in an attempt to be the first to finish. Miles before the goal, most of them have dropped out, or at least slowed to a walk and are left behind. Our protagonist outlasts and pushes past the remaining two of them to finish the course before anyone else that day. The leg cramps and intense nausea he was experiencing took most of the glitter off the victorious moment, but his dream was realized and his name was announced as the first to complete the walkathon.
One would think that it would be something about which a boy of fourteen would brag. And, so I did…for a few days. But, no more. You see, the walk wasn’t completed until the goal was achieved. The goal was for the funds to be put into the coffers of the March of Dimes, so they could be used in their fight against birth defects. But there was no glory in collecting pledges from people, so I was derelict in accomplishing that. Only after weeks of badgering by the school sponsor of the walkathon, was the collection complete. It was even a couple of weeks after that when the money was finally handed over to the organization. I couldn’t be bothered. There would be no spotlight, no microphones being stuck in front of me by a DJ from the radio station, so the goal was actually reached many days after most had completed the actual purpose of the exercise. I didn’t finish first at all!
One of my kid’s favorite childhood movies was about that astounding Disney nanny, Mary Poppins. She introduced her young charges to a game she called, “Well Begun is Half Done.” When he first hears of the “game”, one of her wards, Michael, mutters rightly enough, “I don’t like the sound of that.” Though there is some truth in Poppins’ assumption, I would add (from long experience) that oftentimes jobs that are started without a proper resolve take even longer to finish.
I cannot begin to count the number of times that unfinished jobs have remained for months, even years, on my schedule. I have perfected the art of procrastination. That does not make it any more comfortable. I am not satisfied with this pattern in my life. I would tell you that it is going to change, if it’s the last thing I do, but that wouldn’t really be a step in the right direction, would it? The habits of a lifetime are hard to break. But, I very much want to have them broken.
So I resolve. But, years of abandoned resolutions lie behind. I still resolve. Now, I don’t want to apply the Word improperly, but the Apostle tells us that “…He who began a good work will complete it until the day…” He is speaking of righteousness, but I’m starting to grasp the concept that the whole man, with his whole witness, is involved in the work which is being done in us. If God will not leave that work unfinished, it seems to follow that we need to carry our own work through to completion, also.
Who knows, that guitar may be back together in a day or two. I started the job; I have confidence that it can be finished, too. I’ll let you know…
“Brothers, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on to the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
“It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.”
(Sam Gamgee, quoting his “gaffer” in “The Lord Of The Rings” by J.R.R.Tolkien)