idleness creeps in
I worked part-time in college, but when I graduated I kept that same 20-hours-per-week job for awhile. Sure, I searched for a full-time job, but it took over a year; it was in that year that the sin of idleness came to light in my life. I would go to my job before the sun came up, work for a handful of hours, and then come home to sleep. When I woke up, I would often feel exhausted even still, and then I’d have to force myself to get anything done. I had been hired to create a few paintings for people. I had more job hunting to do. And I also many dreams overflowing in my heart—but I felt paralyzed. So what did I do? I watched shows. I took additional naps. I snacked all day.
What came out of it all was a whole bunch of worrying and inactivity. I went to my part-time job and kept my house clean, but that was mostly it. And then, when a deadline would approach, I’d feel anxious and overwhelmed to tears as I scurried to turn something in minutes before it was due (some of my paintings were wet during the handoff). I was in a horrible cycle and had no idea how to break it. And friend, I’d really love to tell you the five surefire ways to kill procrastination, but the truth is, God is still gently walking me through it (Philippians 1:6).
Recently I heard this saying: it’s not about what you say you will do; it’s about what you do. This has stuck with me because I have noticed patterns—of self-disappointment, worry over whether I am letting people (and God) down, and missed deadline after missed deadline. My heart and intentions emphatically declare their devotion, ability, and timeliness, but my results beg to differ. If I am honest, it is something I have dealt with, fought against, and given into most of my life. I want so badly to be trustworthy and to perform well, but the truth is that my pride and idleness prevent it.
While sitting in a women’s Bible study at my church, the Lord spoke tangible truth to my heart through one of Beth Moore’s studies called Believing God. On that particular Monday night, I found myself taking notes as Beth’s darling southern accent boomed through the speakers.
She told a story that boiled down to her crying and praying out loud in her car as she wrestled with a question. Finally, with a surrendered heart, she said aloud to the Lord, “I am afraid I am going to fail you!” Later in the story she tied this to God’s promise not to leave, fail, or forsake His people (Joshua 1:5).
Those words cut straight into my weary heart. I saw how my idleness was tied to fear of failure.
In a split second, I felt a deep sorrow over my sin, but also a joy that the Lord cared so much to speak to me so clearly through His Word and Beth’s teaching. (I had been praying for a couple of years for God to reveal what the root of several of my struggles were; in this, He answered). Fresh tears flowed from my eyes as I knew this was God’s grace to me. It was His forgiveness covering my shame. His continued pursuit of my soul (Psalm 139:7–10). That night, God revealed three very important things to me:
- One of Satan’s most successful tactics is to find out what a believer fears most, and to tell them that is what they are. He is the father of lies (John 8:44b). He had done just that to me, and I had believed it.
- I fear that I will fail God and others. All that idleness. All the procrastination. All the laziness. It’s all fear. Fear that I wouldn’t be wanted at any full-time job. Fear that someone wouldn’t like my painting, which is a part of me. Fear that if I wrote that book God had put on my heart, I would be rejected.
- God will not fail me. When God was helping Joshua transition into Moses’s place of leadership, He spoke words of encouragement to him. “Be strong and courageous,” God said over and over. He fills us with Himself—He is strong and He is courageous—so we are able to do the things He has called us to do. He is able. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). It’s all Him. I, the clay, have such audacity in thinking I could fail the Potter, who created me and lovingly molds me into everything I need to be for His purposes. Only He is able, and He will not fail (1 Peter 5:6–10).
Satan told me lies I had believed—that I couldn’t succeed, that I would not be able to please anyone or God Himself, that I would only be rejected.
Hope in Christ
But because of Jesus Christ, I have peace in my heart about who I am and where God’s leading me, as I continue to work with Him against this sin of idleness. I know that even if I completed every task with perfection well before deadline, it wouldn’t bring me satisfaction or approval. I know that I will likely fall short again, and that there is forgiveness because of Jesus. After all, it’s by grace that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Nothing I have ever done could make God love me any more or any less. Jesus died in our place. We all needed a substitute to pay the price for our sin—for my idleness and procrastination, which are rooted in fear and pride. Jesus was the only way, and He lovingly stepped in, as He did for you too.
Elizabeth Langston is a wife, artist, and writer. She loves to paint, sing, and play with her puppy, Theo. Her heart’s passion is to use her creative gifts to love, encourage, teach, and equip women in the Word for their growth in the Lord and for His glory. You can find Elizabeth on her blog, Able to Bloom, or on Instagram.
Contributors to the "Behind Closed Doors" series are sharing personal stories about sin, and the redemptive hope found in Christ within Christian community. Our mission at Well-Watered Women is to equip women with a deeper understanding and love for God's Word, and we also encourage women who are struggling to seek the help of biblical counselors and/or medical professionals. You are not alone!