Why is procrastination so appealing? The temptation to put things off can feel irresistible at times, and it always seems like there are good reasons to justify it. There are always other tasks that can be found to keep the important but unpleasant ones at bay. There always seems to be plenty of time to worry about our responsibilities later, when we will presumably have more energy and willpower to take care of them. As skilled as we are in making excuses for ourselves, however, we are typically not as skilled in making excuses for others.
This state of affairs is especially apparent in our relationship with God. Many people shrug off the demands of the Gospel with a passing, “I’m not there yet. I have a whole lifetime to get there.” But when it comes to our requests of God, his eternity might buy him a few days before our impatience gets the better of us and we give up in frustration. Why does God delay when he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants? Is God just another procrastinator like the rest of us?
The difference between human procrastination and divine delay is the concept of the proper time. Procrastination occurs when the best time to do something is now, and we put it off until another, less suitable time. It is not procrastination when we put off an act that would be better reserved for a later time, like when a mother waits for her injured child to heal before scolding him for his recklessness. God is not only all-powerful, such that he can do whatever he wants, and not only supremely free, such that he can act whenever he chooses, but he is also all-wise, such that he knows exactly when his intervention will bring about our greatest good. We, however, don’t always agree with his timetable.
Today, the Church calls upon Christ as the “Root of Jesse,” calling to mind the prophetic expectation of the Messiah that preceded his coming by many centuries, and urges him in eschatological anticipation, “Come… do not delay.” We don’t ask him to hurry because we think he is lazy and will not come unless we nag him. Rather, we do so to manifest our eagerness for his coming. As Christians, we eagerly await the coming of our Lord himself, along with all the benefits he wants to bestow on us, but we wait in patience, rooted in our faith that God does not procrastinate, but chooses the moment of his visitation with the greatest care. O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.