Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reasons versus excuses

Okay, I finally did it. I went for my run in the morning instead of the afternoon. Can't say I was any faster, but now it's done and I can get on with the rest of my day....and I think I found the subject of today's blog in the process.

I've had people tell me for years that I needed to run in the mornings before other things stole away my day. I've always had reasons why I couldn't run in the mornings, but to be honest, they were just excuses. There is a difference you know. As a teacher, I've heard millions of excuses why something didn't get done, and even a few reasons. As I ran today, I had to be honest with myself about the difference in the two.

Some of my "reasons" for not running early in the day included: I'm not a morning person, I have to be at work early, running in the afternoon releases the stress of the day, etc, etc, etc. The truth is, all of these were more "excuse" than "reason." The truth is, I didn't WANT to get up and run. There, I said it. I didn't have an excuse.

Why didn't I want to run in the mornings? Laziness. I'd rather lay around in the bed pulling the pillow over my head than get up. I was tired...usually because I lacked the discipline to get my sorry self off the couch the night before and turn off the tv and go to bed! I can't even use the excuse that I couldn't sleep. I knew good and well if I'd get up earlier each day, soon my internal clock would reset and I'd be able to go to sleep earlier. So I'm not just lazy, the truth is I'm undisciplined as well!

I know I can get up early. When we go to camps with the kids, I'm usually the first one awake (my need for sleep is not as great as my need to get a hot shower before all the campers wake up!) I can work hard all day, stay awake as long as I need to and then get up early again the next day. So I guess that not being able to wake up is just another one of my excuses. I can get up when I want to.

Fear...that's right, fear. Now I'm starting to get personal with myself. Truthfully, I was a little afraid to run in the mornings. I know my neighbors and I wave at them as I run past in the afternoons...when I actually do go run that is. I was afraid of going out early into my neighborhood. Who would I see? What would I encounter? It was a big unknown to me. Yep, I'm a little scaredy cat.

I have to wonder how many "excuses" I've used with God...as if He can't see right through them. At the bottom of almost every excuse lies one of the two "reasons" listed above. Either I'm lazy, or I'm afraid. If it's lazy, I have to be honest and say "I just don't want to." I always seem to find the time, energy, money, etc to do the things I really WANT to do. It may mean giving up something else, but that which I really WANT, I make room for. It goes back to the "want" versus "really want" thing. The problem is that often I let my "wants" and laziness take up the energy and strength needed to achieve the "really wants". I'm the only one who can determine the difference and make sure the "really wants" win out.

The other "reason" I don't do what God wants is fear...what if I encounter something new? What if I fall? What if I get hurt? What if, what if, what if. Those "what ifs" were sapping my energy and keeping me from even trying to set my foot out the door. I guess in some ways I'm not much different than the "calf looking at the new gate"...it scares me and I'm afraid to walk through it.

I have plenty of excuses, but my reasons are all pretty lame. so, this morning, I ran. I did wake up. I got my lazy self out of the bed and took the first step. I won't lie...my body didn't really want to...or maybe it was my mind. Still, I got up and went out the door and found....my neighbors working in their garden, grandparents going to visit their grandkids, people already hard at work...everyday life...just a little earlier than before. I even had a conversation with my neighbor that helped me remember the faithfulness of God. I was encouraged as I listened to him tell how God was working things out for their family. We discussed planting "seeds" that will be here long after we're gone. I marveled at the faithfulness of God and thought about what it means to "step out in faith" when you don't know how it will end. Waiting till later to run would have meant missing all that.

This learning to run in the morning may take a bit of getting used to...after all, I've had 50 years of finding excuses why I couldn't. Still, I think maybe it's time to stretch myself a bit and get rid of the excuses...there's really no reason not to.

"God's loyal love couldn't have run out, His merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great is Your faithfulness, O God." Lam. 3:22-23

(For a sobering look at excuses, check out Luke 14:15 - 34)

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