An incident from the American Revolution illustrates what tragedy can result from procrastination. It is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops at Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn’t bother to read it until the game was finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed, and the rest of the regiment were captured.

Nolbert Quayle said, “Only a few minutes’ delay cost him his life, his honor, and the liberty of his soldiers. Earth’s history is strewn with the wrecks of half-finished plans and unexecuted resolutions. ‘Tomorrow’ is the excuse of the lazy and the refuge of the incompetent.”

-Sermons Illustrated November/December 1988

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I spent a fortune
On a trampoline,
A stationary bike
And a rowing machine
Complete with gadgets
To read my pulse,
And gadgets to prove
My progress results,
And others to show
The miles I’ve charted –
But they left off the gadget
To get me started!

The gadget that can get you started is motive-action. Try it and see.

-Sermons Illustrated November/December 1988

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The Procrastinator’s
Poem:

I’ve gone for a
drink and sharpened my pencils,
Searched through my desk for forgotten utensils.
I reset my watch, I adjusted my chair,
I’ve loosened my tie and straightened my hair.
I filled my pen and tested the blotter
And gone for another drink of water
Adjusted the calendar, and I’ve raised the blind
And I’ve sorted erasers of all different kinds.
Now down to work I can finally sit,
Oops, too late, it’s time to quit.

_________________________
Sermons Illustrated

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Recently news stories
carried the story of Zyness O’Havner and Sallie Warner, who were finally married
after 77 years of living together. The bride was 94 and the groom was 95. The couple married Wednesday at the Oklahoma County Courthouse in Oklahoma City.
Three of the couple’s four grandchildren attended. Evidently O’Havner had made
frequent promises to make their relationship legal. He finally agreed to get
married and did so in Oklahoma City. We can only wonder why it took so long.

_________________________

Michael Shannon,
Preaching July/August 2003

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PROCRASTINATION

Recently
news stories carried the story of Zyness O’Havner and Sallie Warner,
who were finally married after 77 years of living together. The bride
was 94 and the groom was 95.

The couple married Wednesday at the Oklahoma County Courthouse in Oklahoma City.

Three
of the couple’s four grandchildren attended. Evidently O’Havner had
made frequent promises to make their relationship legal. He finally
agreed to get married and did so in Oklahoma City. We can only wonder
why it took so long.

_______________

J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.

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I wrote my books
because of a compulsion to make some record of a fascinating era in veterinary
practice. I wanted to tell people what it was like to be an animal doctor in
the days before penicillin and about the things which made me laugh on my daily
rounds, working in conditions which now seem primitive.

This compulsion,
however, took a long time to assume any practical form. I seemed to sublimate
it by recounting the daily happenings to my wife, finishing invariably with
the remark, “I’ll put that in my book.”

There is no doubt
this situation would have gone on forever if my wife, at the end of one of my
recitals, had not remarked, “Jim, you are never going to write a book”.
She said it kindly but, nevertheless, I was aghast.

“Whatever
do you mean?” I said

“Well,”
she replied, “You have been talking about this book for twenty-five years.
Remember we celebrated our silver wedding last week?”

I tried to point
out that I was not an impulsive type and always like to take a little time to
think things over, but women can be very unreasonable.

She smiled at me.
“Don’t take it to heart, Jim. You are only one of thousands of people who
think they are going to write a book, but they never do it.”

“But I will,
I will,” I protested indignantly.

She smiled again
with a touch of sadness. “You must realize that it is impossible. Old vets
of fifty don’t suddenly start writing books.”

That did it. I
went straight out, bought a lot of paper and got down to the job.


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The story is told of a family that moved into a new community. They were promptly visited by two elders and the pastor of a nearby church who cordially invited them to attend the services on the Lord’s Day. The man assured them that he would come just as soon as he got straightened out. Several months passed, and he still hadn’t put in an appearance, so the minister called again and repeated his invitation. But he received the same reply. The fellow hadn’t yet gotten everything straightened out, but he’d be there just as soon as he did. A few weeks later he died, and his widow asked to have the funeral services in the church. The preacher graciously agreed. It was indeed a sad affair. Later when a member of the congregation asked the pastor if the man was a Christian, he answered, “He never attended services here, and no one can recall ever hearing him give a testimony of his faith in Christ, so I can’t say. I only know he was a man of his word. He promised to come to church just as soon as he got straightened out – and he did!”

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There really is a Procrastinators’ Club of America, with headquarters in
Philadelphia. Their objective is “to make known the benefits of putting
things off until later.” They publish Last Month’s Newsletter, and have
protested against the War of 1812, tried to get someone to fix the crack in the
Liberty Bell, and traveled to Spain to try to raise money for three ships to
discover America. The club holds irregular and, of course, late, meetings. If
all of us who put things off were to join, it would be the biggest organization
in the world. No doubt many of us intend to join, we just haven’t gotten around
to it yet!

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