Make the Changes Now, Not Later

I forget the context of this story that my dad told me when I was younger.

He said that there was a man who was a chain smoker. With his latest doctor’s appointment, along with the endless years of urging from his wife and children, he finally decided that he needed to quit smoking.
He made his decision and was looking forward to following through on that decision and commitment.
So to inspire himself, motivate himself, and/or remind himself he made a sign to go over his front door way. On that sign, he wrote “Tomorrow, I’m going to quit smoking.” After all, he had a few ciggies left in his pack, and to just throw it away would be throwing away money and he was a responsible steward of his money, so he possibly couldn’t do that.

So he smoked his precious last few cigarettes. Savored each puff. Looking towards a future where he wouldn’t be slaves to these tiny things. And off to bed he went.

He woke up. Groggy. Needing a cigarette. But he was going to try to fight the temptation. Today was a new day. A new beginning. A new life.
He got ready for work and as he was leaving, he saw the sign that he had made, “Tomorrow, I’ll quit smoking.”
“Hmmm,” he thought. “Tomorrow. Yea, I’ll try harder tomorrow.” And went to the garage where he kept a secret stash of cigarettes.

The man never learned to quit, because the sign that he made kept reminding himself that, “Tomorrow, I’ll quit smoking.”

Haven’t we all put off making changes in our lives for a later, designated time?
I worked with high school kids, who weren’t the best of students– not because they weren’t smart, but because they were lazy. And they would say to me, “Pastor Joe, when I get to college, I’ll get my act together and really study and work hard. I’m just waiting to go to college to really make that leap — that change in my habits.” Almost all the students who told me that, never really followed through and their grades were at best, similar to their high school transcript.

Or, we find ourselves saying things like:
… when I make more money, that’s when I’ll tithe.
… when I get that promotion, I’ll spend more time with my family.
… when it actually starts bothering me, I’ll go see the doctor.

The truth is, the more we put off those changes we want and need to make, the more likely they won’t happen.
We’ll come up with excuse after excuse after excuse after excuse.
… I’m adjusting to living in dorms and the college life.
… We’re not quite there financially to feel comfortable give anything.
… Have to keep up with the changes in the job promotion. I’ll take the family on vacation soon enough.
… Meh, it’s just a flesh wound.

The changes may never happen if we keep putting the necessary changes off for a future point in time.

I know that I’m struggling with making changes in my personal life.
Exercise has been less frequent, even after all the blog posts I’ve made about my needing to exercise. And my diet hasn’t changed all too much.

I catch myself saying, “when ______ happens, then I’ll _________.”

Hopefully, I can learn something from this insight. The changes that need to be made, I need to make an effort to start working on them now, not later.

Otherwise, it’ll become “Tomorrow, I’ll ________.”
And we all know how that story usually ends…

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