Tomorrow my new diet starts!" I said with a smile, downing another bite of strawberry cheesecake.
I really didn't feel too bad about the cheesecake, reasoning that at least I was getting some food value—protein from the cheese and vitamin C from the strawberries. At least it wasn't pure junk food.
"Yeah, Jim, you said the same thing three weeks ago!" my friend retorted. "If I reme rilber right, we were pigging out at Tom's Smorgasbord at the time."
I didn't recall the conversation to which he referred, yet his statement did have a certain ring of authenticity.
"But this time, I'm serious," I asserted lamely.
My friend didn't press the issue further, but his grin clearly communicated his skepticism—as if to say, "Sure, Jim."
Later that evening while reflecting on my friend's disbelief about the diet I was planning, I realized that, indeed, I had been "planning" to diet for six months. Well, maybe it was a year! During that time I had put on about 25 extra pounds.
It wasn't that I didn't have good intentions. My problem was that I never started today. My diet was totally painless, for it was based on "The Tomorrow Diet."
Maybe I should write a book about The Tomorrow Diet. It would probably be a bestseller! Our society is filled with painless and procrastinating methods that never produce results. They are blown up with wonderful-sounding, so-called solutions that never work—ways to be self-indulgent and undisciplined while always claiming that our behavior is only temporary.
Not just food
The Tomorrow Diet principle extends far beyond the issue of self-control in our food consumption; it affects every other issue of our lives. Have you ever promised yourself any of the following?
Tomorrow I'm going to balance my checkbook.
Tomorrow I will spend more quality time with my wife and children.
Tomorrow I'm going to start getting up earlier so I can spend time in prayer and Bible study.
Tomorrow I will write those notes of encouragement that I've been putting off.
Tomorrow I'll begin my new exercise program.
Tomorrow I'll go to visit my neighbor so I can share the gospel with him (or her).
Tomorrow I'll get busy on those home repairs (or mending) that have been waiting so long to be done.
Tomorrow I'm going to make a clean break with that sinful habit in my life.
Tomorrow I'm going to start a program to help myself get out of debt.
Tomorrow sounds like a pretty busy day! How tempting it is to deal with unpleasant situations by simply postponing them to a later time.
The Tomorrow Diet approach is the route so unwisely chosen by our national leaders who continually put off dealing with the budget deficit and other nagging issues. Yet, the procrastination practiced by our government is but a minor image of the lack of honesty and resolve among individual citizens in dealing with personal problems.
Very few difficult situations improve with procrastination! Instead of going away, most problems keep getting bigger the longer we take to confront them. Weeding your garden isn't very difficult if you do it every few days, but after two or three months of putting it off, the weeds are likely to be taller than the crops!
The Bible has much to say about the importance of hearing and acting on God's word today, and not putting it off for sometime later.
The Holy Spirit warns: "Today if you hear His (God's) voice, do not harden your hearts. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Heb. 3:7, 8, 13).
"As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain . I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:1, 2).
Today is the day! God is speaking to us today, and His grace is here to enable us to take the action that is needed. He wants to convert us from The Tomorrow Diet to The Today Diet!
Jesus dealt with this same procrastination issue among several would-be disciples. They stated their intent to follow Him, but said they had some pressing matters to attend to first (Luke 9:59-62). Surprisingly, Jesus showed very little sympathy for their requests, knowing that those who insist on procrastinating have never truly committed themselves to His Lordship.
An illustration often cited in evangelistic messages deals with procrastination. The devil, so the story goes, is said to have sent one of his agents to whisper in an unbeliever's ear that there is no heaven, but the person doesn't believe the demonic messenger. Again the demon was sent, this time trying to convince the person that there is no hell. But once more his lie was rejected. Finally, the devil said to his discouraged warrior, "I've got just the solution when working with hard cases like this. Tell him he has plenty of time—that there's no hurry?"
The devil may be unable to convince us of out-and-out lies but he subtly continues working the old argument that there's no urgency. "There's still plenty of time to obey God," Satan soothes. "Tomorrow will be just fine." This deception, so appealing to our old unregenerate natures, draws us deeper and deeper into apathy and complacency. As the old saying goes, tomorrow never comes.
Why is it so important that we obey right away? This is a lesson my children helped me learn. They didn't always think they needed to heed my orders immediately—they thought it would be O.K. to obey after they had finished whatever it was they were doing.
From dealing with my own children on this issue of prompt obedience, I now recognize a very important principle: Delayed obedience is disobedience.
Right now why not ask the Lord to show you those things you are to take action on today?
One of the reasons we sometimes procrastinate is that our list of unfinished projects has become so long, we feel overwhelmed. But with God's help, we can sort out our priorities for this present day, and need not fee] guilty about the things He would have us leave until another day.
"Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" (Ps. 90:12).
P.S. I wish that l had written this article years ago . . . but it took me awhile to get around to it.