A Pack of Dreams & Cigarettes

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In the course of a normal work week I’ll often find myself driving to FedEx. It never fails that our crew has headed off to somewhere in the US for another bizarre and entertaining shoot, yet has either left something behind or has had to leave before an item was ready to travel with them. Hence my frequent trips to FedEx to ensure that the vital item reaches them in adequate time. During one of these trips I found myself at a stop light (strange how that happens when you drive in a city) and noticed a young girl on the street corner smoking a cigarette. As the light turn green my gaze fell on a little “smoke shop” that sits on the corner, and I mused about all the people that frequent that store. How can people knowingly ingest poison into their bodies? I wondered. Why would they want to end up trapped in pain and decay? Don’t they realize they only get one chance- one body? As I turned into the FedEx parking lot my sometimes sensible mind had already answered these questions. Jewel, I said, you know it’s because they value their current comfort more than their future. They would rather be comfortable for a moment now, than thriving later.

A few days later I was sitting on the floor in a support class that my vocal coach has established for artists. The purpose of this class is to challenge our minds to break free from thoughts that hold our dreams captives. It has astonished me how much freedom has been unlocked in my life simply from knowing the right things. Satan’s deceptions are so bite size and blinding. The more you eat them, the less you taste them. This week’s class was centered on procrastination. Amidst some incredible ideas that my coach introduced us to that will change how I view procrastination forever, one of the other students likened procrastination to poison. Poison to our dreams. The more we put it off, the more we chip away at the dreams we once had, till finally our dreams lie in a decaying shriveled lump, not even recognizable or remembered as the beauty they once were. “But the thing is…it’s not like we just walk into this poison. We have to willingly ingest it.”

As soon as she said this, my mind flashed back to the young girl smoking the cigarette…and the smoke shop…and then all the anti-smoking commercials with people trapped inside grey sagging skin, relying on voice-boxes and wigs to give them some sense that their decaying body is still human. I’ve always watched these commercials with pity, wishing they could go back and make that choice again. But it wasn’t just one choice. It was one, and then another, and then anther, and then another. The cigarette didn’t just land in their mouth every morning…their choice put it there. And the more they did it the easier it got. And each time they chose that poison, they chose to chip away at their life and health.

I’ve always watched those commercials with pity…now I will watch them with a healthy fear. I now see myself- my dreams -in that wheel chair, that wig, that grey skin.  Every day I have willingly ingested the poison of procrastination. It didn’t jump on me out of the blue…I saw it there, and I chose it. And then I chose it again, and again, and again. I chose it because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough. I chose it because I was afraid of disappointment. I chose it for so many reasons, but very often I chose it because I cared more about my current comfort, than a thriving future. But what I didn’t realize was I wasn’t just postponing that future…I was killing it. The more I procrastinated, the more natural it became. The less I realized it. But looking back with eyes wide open, I see that the dreams I once had in blinding colors, have faded into shriveled lumps.

Thank God for the redemption of dreams! The more I choose to climb a mountain, the more of the world and the hills and the sky I can see.  The more I choose to chase after God, the more of His vision and His purpose and His heart I can see. The more I choose to act on my dreams instead of procrastinate, the more of the dreams and the hope and the future I can see…and then it just gets downright exciting!

Some of you may be familiar with the story of Daniel in the old testament. There was a time when Daniel had a burden for his people so massive, that he fasted and prayed for three weeks on their behalf. Things were dire, and he refused to stand by and watch his people perish. Through this excruciating time of prayer, God seemed silent. Here Daniel was toiling in earnest petitions, and God said nothing. For three weeks. Finally at the end of that time a fierce warrior-angel showed up at his doorstep and told him that from the moment Daniel breathed his first prayer, he was dispatched on his behalf. All that time he had simply been delayed by violent warfare in the spiritual realm.

When I think about the people that my dreams are meant to bring solution to, to break chains off of, to help rescue…I know there must be someone out there praying for me to come. And If there is ever a day that I have to hear the words “What took you so long,” I pray to God that I will be able to say it was because I was fighting passionately the whole way…and not that I had simply chose to give in to my own procrastination.

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