My Family’s Old Videotapes
Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” Genesis 42:43
Like many of you, we recorded our kid’s childhoods on videotape. I’m sure that when we bought it, those MiniDV cassettes were the latest technology, but within a few years we didn’t even have a TV on which we could play those old tapes. Then one day, I saw an ad for a service that copies old cassettes to a digital format. So, I planned to send my cassettes in, but I just never got around to it. I collected the cassettes and put them in a box . . . which I proceeded to move with us as we moved into a couple of different houses over the years. There they sat, on my nightstand. My wife would ask – Are you ever going to send those in? I intended to, but I just never got there because it wasn’t a priority today. I’ll do it tomorrow.
It was relatively inconsequential when it came to my MiniDV collection, and I eventually got it done – after our third house move – but my procrastination isn’t always so harmless. In my drug addiction, I knew I needed to get sober, but I also knew how much misery that was going to be – confession, treatment, radical change – and so I just kept putting it off until tomorrow. I’ll get sober someday. The damage of not getting sober piled up though. By the time I eventually got there, I’d destroyed nearly everything good in my life, causing terrible pain to those closest to me.
For many of us, it’s our nature to put off that which we know is going to be difficult. Jacob and his family discovered this in today’s passage. In the story, Joseph’s brothers came before him in Egypt to buy grain during a famine. The brothers didn’t recognize him, and Joseph accused them of being spies. He incarcerated one brother, Simeon, demanding that the other brothers go home and then return to Egypt with their younger brother, Benjamin, to prove they weren’t spies. The brothers took the grain home, but Father Jacob refused to let them take Benjamin back. So, Simeon sat in that Egyptian prison until the family consumed all the grain they’d purchased. Only when the food ran out, did Jacob tell the brothers to go back to Egypt, knowing they’d have to take Benjamin with them. Jacob put off the return as long as he could because he knew it would hurt, even though this left Simeon languishing in prison.
For many of us, procrastination is our nature – Why do today what I can do tomorrow? If it only involves MiniDV cassettes, it’s probably harmless. For many of us though, we have profound changes that need to happen, but we know how much misery and work it will take to get there. So, we put it off, languishing in our prison, causing ourselves and our loved ones further misery. The time for change though, is now. If we want the new life, we must start doing what it takes to get there today. Putting it off until tomorrow doesn’t help anyone and only makes things harder in the end.