In Exodus 8 we find The Plague of Frogs. Pharaoh was so bothered by the frogs that he asked Moses to please pray to God to remove this plague and he would, in turn, release the Israelites. Moses told Pharaoh that he would pray to God but he allowed Pharaoh to decide when he would pray this prayer. Instead of Pharaoh saying, “Pray right now!! — I want these frogs gone NOW!!”, he said in Exodus 8:10, “tomorrow.” How strange is that? He is plagued by something, had the opportunity to be free of it TODAY, but said, “TOMORROW.” Wow!
Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but Pharaoh and I have something in common: I too am guilty of putting off until tomorrow what I can do today. God wants to bless us now, He wants to free us now, show Himself to us now. Why wait? Usually it’s because a piece of me still wants to indulge one last time. Or sometimes the issue is that the act of talking about stopping or planning to change gives me a sense of fulfillment. I am proud to have taken this first step. At least I’m trying, right? Wrong! The reality is, once the affliction is gone, or once the conviction has passed, we are less likely to carry out the commitment we’ve talked about and/or planned to make. Yes, talk. Talking it out is great. Yes, plan. Planning allows us to visualize and organize our next move. But talk about making the move today, not tomorrow.
I’d never thought about “today” being an option when it came to setting a time to begin healthy changes in my life. Who starts diets today? Who breaks off the relationship the same day they realize it needs to end? It’s called a “2-week notice,” right? Who takes on life-style modifications the day of the diagnosis? Aren’t we supposed to do stuff like that on Mondays? January 1st? After “one more chance?” or As soon as…?
In my mind and perhaps yours too, “tomorrow” and “change” went hand in hand. “Next time” and “refraining” were buddies. “As soon as…” and “I’ll get right on it” are logical companions. After reflecting on this passage of scripture, however, I’m thinking: what if I refrained from gossiping right now? What if I literally closed my mouth and went silent the moment the Spirit convicted me? What if I drive past the greasy burger selling place and start dietary changes this morning … for breakfast … instead of doing it as soon as I finish consuming these excess empty calories I don’t even plan to burn today? What if I started daily prayer and worship today rather than getting right on it Sunday at church? What if?
You know what? I might actually make some progress. According to Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage of scripture, we are more likely to carry out our thoughts to do better if we act on them while the affliction is being felt. If I wait until after I indulge and feel the pleasure “one last time,” I will likely lose sight of the pertinence of the change and carry on in the behavior even longer.
That’s what happened with Pharaoh. While the frogs were right there—in his palace, his bedroom, his bed, the houses of his officials, on his people, in his ovens, and kneading trough—he was all about having Moses pray to God to get rid of them. These frogs were a nuisance! An up close and personal nuisance! Pharaoh himself could not eat, drink, nor sleep in quiet. He gave way under this plague. However, instead of making a move while in the midst of the conviction, he decided to wait until tomorrow. As a result, the conviction wore off, and the promise made was forgotten.
“But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen…”
I wonder if today holds more “commitment glue” than does tomorrow? Perhaps BERORE the temporal relief, DURING the conviction, IN THE MIDST OF the consuming thoughts, AS the never-ending drama plays out once more, WHILE HAVING the 100th chat with your girlfriend about the same situation … perhaps THAT’S the moment in which you need to embrace the change.
We probably won’t see results TODAY. It will be a process. But processes have to start in order to yield the desired results. My challenge for us all is to start the process TODAY rather than TOMORROW. “Easier said than done, Christy!” I hear you. Now hear me: just because it will be a fight doesn’t have to mean you sit on the sidelines and just watch defeat. Put on your boxing gloves, a.k.a. prayer, and get in the ring! Be it praying more, reading your Bible consistently, sharing your faith, eating healthier, spending more responsibly, gossiping less, starting that business, joining a support group, asking for help, ending that toxic relationship or mending a broken relationship through forgiveness—let TODAY win this match.