Excuses. We all make them. This is one I have personally never used but we’ve all probably heard it – “my dog ate my homework.” Here’s another one the comedian Flip Wilson made famous – “the devil made me do it.” Here’s what the dictionary says about excuses:
Excuses are what we use to avoid something we really don’t want to do, or a responsibility we really don’t want to own/admit.
Sometimes they seem like good reasons. Sometimes they are. Sometimes we use them to avoid hurting another person’s feelings. Sometimes though they are just simply excuses masquerading as reasons because we don’t want to do something. I’ve used a lot of excuses in my life. Some seem like reasonable and legitimate arguments but, they can start the ball rolling toward a life full of excuses.
For instance, I have always worked sitting at a desk. Not much opportunity for exercise during the day. Then there was lunchtime and fast food was the choice. A career full of fast food lunches. I only had so much time on my lunch break – right? And, there was no cafeteria. I did not have an office, so I didn’t bring my lunch. Oh, and I wanted to be social with my co-workers. Think those are enough excuses? On top of that, we raised five children who were all involved in extra-curricular activity. That took time out of the evenings to drive to and from, not to mention the laundry from all those activities. Then, there was travel time to/from work, supper to fix, dishes to wash, etc. etc. I had loads of excuses then. But, at least I was moving while I was doing those evening chores. Something funny happened though when the kids grew up and I no longer had to cart them to and from and they could take care of themselves. Instead of filling that extra evening time with physical activity, I wanted to sit down and rest! Rest is good and we all need it but…it can become a habit worth breaking when it is prolonged.
I have recently had my eyes opened to the consequences of my sedentary lifestyle as my parents have aged and developed one health problem after another. They, too, led sedentary lives and now since they didn’t move much, they can’t move much. Because they didn’t watch their diets, they now have to really watch their diets (and take medicines to counteract the damage done). Well, I don’t want that to be me in the future. So, those excuses are out in the open now and I have to deal with them. I’ve made changes in my lifestyle and thanks to God, He is helping me avoid the pitfalls and temptations awaiting me. As I focus on Him and what He does bless me with, I can ignore those things I shouldn’t have on a regular basis. Habits of many years are being changed. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
These are the excuses I’m dealing with now but what about you? Sometimes we make excuses because we don’t think we can do whatever it is that God might be calling us to do. Often, we don’t feel qualified or “ready” to take on a challenge that is before us. Sometimes just plain fear prompts us to make excuses. I am reminded as I read scripture though that if God calls us to something, He will give us all we need to accomplish His purposes. As a friend told me once, “If God can use a donkey, He can use you.” A good reminder of God’s provision and the need for our humility. [You can read all about a donkey used by God in Numbers 22.]
I wonder what all I have missed by making excuses. Don’t you? Look at this scripture in Luke 14.
The Parable of the Great Banquet: “When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (Luke 14:15-24)
I even drummed up excuses in my mind for procrastinating about publishing this blog post I felt led to write. After all, who wants to air their own bad habits?! But, I don’t want to miss out on anything God has planned for me. Who knows what blessing we pass up by making excuses. And maybe, just maybe, someone needs us to quit making excuses, so God can bless them through us. The only way we will know what we should or should not do or say is to be so in tune with God through His Word, that His Holy Spirit guides our thoughts, words and actions. He promises to guide and direct our path IF we trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Let’s quit making excuses and start making a difference.
Dear God, Open my eyes to see the truth in me. Reveal to me the excuses I make to keep from doing what I know to do. Let me see the opportunities you put before me and to take that step of faith to follow Your lead. In Jesus name, Amen.