The kids and I were reading some verses about laziness today, because that is an area of character that needs some work right now. One of the verses was Proverbs 22:13, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!'” The words went right to my heart–never mind my children–I needed to hear this one.
For most of my life I was governed by an intense fear. Not fear of heights, the dark, spiders or the typical things you might think of. I was afraid of anything difficult, or new, or different. I was afraid of effort. I had many dreams and goals, but I always told myself, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard. There are too many obstacles.” It was not merely laziness. The laziness had become a paralyzing fear. This fear and laziness pervaded almost every area of my life.
When I was about 18, I was standing in my living room, alone, praying and singing. The Twila Paris song, “I am not afraid anymore” came on and I remember singing it, and crying out to God to take my fear away. I felt God remove the burden from my heart, and I have never taken it back again. That fear used to grip me, but now I am only tempted by it, and I have learned to take those temptations to God. Whenever I am in a situation where I feel like “I can’t do it,” I give it to God and ask Him to do it for me. He always does.
Unfortunately the laziness aspect didn’t instantly vanish at the same time. It took much work and diligence to overcome a lifetime of bad habits. My parents had trained me to work hard at housework, and I knew how to do a good job at it. I had all the right knowledge and tools, but I had not learned the art of self-government when it came to taking care of my home. So once I was married I really struggled to get everything done.
My house was often a mess; the dishes would pile up and the laundry wouldn’t get done. I was actually overwhelmed by a little pile of laundry. I’d see the stack of dishes and walk away, feeling like there was no way I could get them done. And before long more dishes would be added to the collection. The problem reached an embarrassing level when I was pregnant with Sarah, and God convicted my heart of the sin of laziness.
Granted, I had undiagnosed celiac disease, which caused me to have chronic fatigue. It was especially bad when I was expecting Sarah. But, I knew that my laziness was still a sin and that I needed God to change me. So I begged Him to help me to be diligent and self-disciplined in my daily habits. With my husband’s gracious help (he is a servant, and also an example of diligence) I gradually unearthed my house, and developed a basic daily system that keeps things in order even when I don’t feel well. And I taught myself to look at those overwhelming tasks and say, “It’s not so bad. I can do this. I just need to work hard and persevere.”
God really does care about how we use our time. It is not okay for us to move through our day in an undisciplined way. Laziness is not just a personality trait, and being messy is not merely the way we are. My goal is to glorify God, and I realized that I was not glorifying Him in the way I was keeping my home. Nor was I as available to be used by Him in the use of my home, because it was always a mess and there was so much to do to get it ready. I am so thankful for His gracious conviction and the help of the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him I really can do nothing. I am also thankful that it is not too late to work on those goals I’ve had for years, but never did anything about! When we are faithful in little, God blesses us with much.
You can also be sure I am quick to help my children deal with these issues NOW, and let them know that I am right there with them, working on the same things. In our home we work first then play, and if we don’t work, we don’t eat. We also try to keep things simple, so we can get it all done and not be stressed. I don’t do well with too much on my plate. We stick with what we consider to be the best use of our time (and this does include earned recreation).
If any of you struggle with laziness or fear, or both, I encourage you to call on the Lord. He will help you.
For His Glory!