One More Night With the Frogs
By DANNY MINTON
One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament centers around the Exodus. Numerous lessons come from Moses’ life and his encounters with God, the Pharaoh, and the people in the wilderness. If you remember, God sent Moses to Pharaoh with the request to let the people leave Egypt. Pharaoh proved to be stubborn, or as the Bible teaches, he hardened his heart. Through plague, after plague, he kept procrastinating letting the Israelites leave.
One of the most baffling places that he shows his delay in making a decision happened early on in his encounters with Moses and God. It happened a week after Moses had turned the water into blood. God sent a plague of frogs over the land. “The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come upon you and your people and all your officials.'” Exodus 8:3-4 (NIV2011)
Can you see this picture? It sounds like a horror movie called “Attack of the Frogs!” They were everywhere, from their beds to their food. It must have been driving people insane. Then comes the bewildering part. The Pharaoh calls Moses and asks him to take the frogs away, and he’d let the people go sacrifice. So Moses kindly tells the Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.” Exodus 8:9 (NIV2011) The “honor” of making the decision sets with the Pharaoh. Most of us would have said, “The sooner, the better.” However, the Pharaoh decides to put it off. “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the LORD our God. Exodus 8:9-10 (NIV2011)
Tomorrow? Really! You, Pharaoh, are so stubborn that you will put off until tomorrow to get rid of the nuisance? You are willing to let your people spend “One more night with the frogs.” The rest of the day, suppertime, all through the night, he allows everyone to suffer, all because he put it off until “tomorrow.”
Procrastinating, putting things off, is something with which many of us struggle. I’ll be the first to admit that I fall into this category. There are different reasons for my lingering to do things I plan or should. I don’t particularly enjoy edging the yard, so it has to be unsightly before pulling out the weed eater. It took me two years to decide I finally needed to paint my house. I found lots of excuses from being too hot or not having the right equipment. I’ve started writing three books with my writings over the years and thought of a fourth the other night, but they remain buried in some file. I’ve begun dozens of exercising routines, some even lasted a week or two, before giving way to the remote control. It’s so much easier to put things off than to face-up and get some things done.
“Tomorrow.” How often have we used this excuse not to do things that we need to do? How many times have we or have we seen someone regret putting off until tomorrow something that they later wish they’d done sooner? I’m not talking about exercise, painting, writing, or working in the yard. I’m speaking about our relationships with people, whether friends, family, or even those we are not very close to.
“Today.” That’s the critical time in our lives. We have no promise of tomorrow or what it may hold in this life. We cannot change what has happened in the past. The one time in our lives that we have control over is what we do at this moment. Have we taken the time to tell someone we love them? Have we hugged our children? Have we made that call of encouragement to someone hurting? One of my biggest regrets came when I planned to visit an elderly lady at the hospital. I called the family and told them I’d come up “tomorrow” to see them and pray with them. During the night, she passed away. I performed her service, but for me, it was too late to hold her hand during those last moments. “Tomorrow” was too late.
James wrote, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13,14 (NIV2011) “Today” may be the only or last chance to do something that we might regret putting off. A kiss, a hug, or saying “I love you” only take a moment of our lives. Giving up a few minutes today to do something kind for someone can put off a lifetime of regrets.
The author of Hebrews writes, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV2011) We must “take hold of today.” When we take care of those things we should do today, we will be able to sleep well and not regret tomorrow what we failed to achieve.
Pharaoh decided to spend one more night in misery. He chose to suffer instead of taking care of the needs of now. I doubt his supper was enjoyable with frogs hopping around the table. I doubt he slept well with his servants continually trying to keep the frogs away from him during the night. If only he had told Moses, “now.” Maybe he thought the frogs would leave on their own if he lingered making a decision. Whatever his reason, he decided to live in the misery another night.
What about us? Is there something we should do today? Or will we spend “one more night with the frogs?”
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ