I was first introduced by the idiom dillydally by one of my Junior High teachers. This woman hated to lose valuable class time, regularly pointing out to her class this wretched behavior. Yet, this term dates back to the Middle Ages. Dilly-dally is a reduplication of dally, referring to loitering or spending time idly. According to the OED, dilly-dally first appeared in literature around 1741.
Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not be diminished, Jeremiah 29:5-6.
While Israel was living in exile, forced to reside in Babylon, many longed to be back in their homeland. Based upon the passage above, many Israelites were seen moping around, unable to come to grips with their current dilemma. Like teenagers loitering at a local mall, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to give everyone a pep talk. The best way to summarize this message is “multiple and don’t dillydally.”
Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. 14 Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air], James 4:13-14.
Jesus’ earthly brother proclaimed that life is too short to dwell on the past. Whenever you let depression suck the joy out of life, you’ll never get back the time you’ve lost wishing you were someone else or some other place. The time for moping is over for me. Instead of dillydallying in this or that, seize each day like it’s your last. Dwell where the Lord has planted you, making the most of the hours you have left on earth.
by Jay Mankus