The phrase “I'll do it next week” has become so ingrained in my vocabulary in recent months that it's truly amazing I get anything done.
Even as I sit and write this article I look around at my half unpacked office and ponder those words. It's been some 10 “next weeks” since I first stepped into the office and yet if you look around it would seem that “next week” has yet to arrive with regards to the unpacking process. Some call it procrastination, others call it laziness, but I call it life.
Sometimes life happens. We make plans and things don't come to fruition how/when we planned them to. One of my favorite song lyrics reads “every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time.” “I'll do it next week,” is apparently the prayer I utter most often, and that's ok, as long as I don't forget to pray for my “daily bread” as well (i.e. the things I'll do/need this week).
It is so easy to get caught up in the future that I forget to live in the now. Thankfully God saw this problem and decided to live in the now as a person who had the experience of life in weeks. I like to think that from time to time Jesus would say “I'll do it next week,” mainly because I want Jesus to be a normal person like me. However, there were plenty of moments in his life and ministry that Jesus prayed for, and provided daily bread, in ministry to others. He healed and fed the crowds that gathered before him - even as the disciples sometimes tried to send them away. He had the difficult conversations regarding topics like faith, politics, and economics – even when the opposition was hostile and challenging. When issues arose Jesus engaged them, even when it would've been easier to “do it next week.”
We live in a world filled with complicated and complex issues, just as Jesus did. While it is easier pray for more time in responding or acting on issues, it would seem that isn't always where faith leads us. We can all agree that issues like world-hunger and systemic racism are places where the Gospel is pretty clear how we are to respond. We are called to help feed people and free the oppressed, especially recognizing that we are all created in the diversity of God's divine image.
Today we are called more than ever to be active in living out our faith, just as Jesus and his disciples tried to do (even if the latter sometimes struggled in this task, as we ourselves do). For those who are hungry and suffering waiting until next week is seldom a good option. Perhaps that's why God is calling us to live in this moment and do this hard work of bringing about change in our world, that all may have their daily bread. Instead of waiting for God's Kingdom to arrive next week, we can be the hands, feet, and (perhaps most importantly) the voices that reveal the kingdom right now. A kingdom where all are fed and all know God's love.
Pr. Zak Wagner