Thursday, May 28, 2015

We’ll Make That Change…Pretty Soon

From time to time companies declare they’re making significant changes to their products. Recently, for example, a prominent restaurant chain announced, “By the end of 2016, we’re removing all artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners and flavors from our food.” Other eateries have affirmed similar steps to eliminate potentially harmful ingredients from their menus.

Commendable decisions, without doubt. Whether due to consumer pressure, good public relations, or corporate conviction after research and due diligence, businesses decide it’s in the best interests of their customers to start doing things differently. Eventually.

The question is, why the wait? We’re in the middle of 2015, and the unnamed restaurants will have dubious, if not outright harmful, additives removed within about 18 months. In the meantime, they’re suggesting we keep patronizing their stores, even though some contents of their food will remain undesirable.

Change often takes time. New procedures need to be formulated and implemented, as well as new ingredients found to ensure the desired flavor, texture and quality. The alternative would be to shutter the stores until newly developed products are ready. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and menus aren’t either, apparently.

Changes in menus, and in our lives,
sometimes take longer than desired.
My intent is not to criticize these establishments. It’s not as if their current products contain lethal poisons or disease-causing bacteria. If that were the case, waiting up to a year and a half for changes would be unacceptable. They’ve recognized a need for changes and are going about making them in a deliberate, well-thought-out manner.

But doesn’t this mirror how most of us approach life? We realize some important changes are necessary in our lives and resolve to make them – soon. “I’ll do it later, but not right now.” Maybe it’s learning to eat healthier, or to eat less. Perhaps it’s taking steps needed to overcome some type of addictive or controlling behavior. Or we might want to start something beneficial, such as learning to play a musical instrument, taking art classes, spending more time with books and less time in front of the TV, or even…reading the Bible on a regular basis.

There’s an interesting little episode in the Scriptures when action was required, but not as quickly as we might have imagined. Moses had approached the pharaoh to ask him to free the Israelites to leave Egypt and worship God. The stubborn Egyptian king repeatedly refused, resulting in a total of 10 plagues of increasing gravity descending upon the nation.

The second plague was an infestation of frogs. No one in Egypt could escape being surrounded by hopping, croaking critters. In frustration, Pharaoh summoned Moses and his brother, Aaron, saying, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices…” (Exodus 8:8). Who wouldn’t want to get rid of the pesky amphibians?

Then comes the crazy part. Probably shouting above the din of countless croaks, Moses said, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you…that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs…” To which Pharaoh, the preeminent, most revered man in all of Egypt, replied, “Tomorrow” (Exodus 8:9-10).

What? Unable to take a single step without stomping on a frog, with frogs filling every open space whether in bedrooms or hallways, even ovens and feeding troughs, Pharaoh told Moses to have the frogs evicted tomorrow! If the conversation had been in Spanish, the Egyptian monarch would have specified, “Mañana.”

Apparently Mr. Pharaoh possessed the first Round Tuit – in other words, “Whenever you can get around to it, Moses.”

Knowing our human tendency to delay doing what we know we should do immediately, God tells us in Proverbs 3:28, Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.”

He is saying when important change is in order, it’s best not to postpone for later what we can accomplish sooner. In 2 Timothy 4:2 we’re told, “Be ready in season and out of season.” Writer Oswald Chambers explains, “we should ‘be ready’ whether we feel like it or not…. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.”

If you’re running a restaurant that needs to revamp ingredients for menu items, change might come more slowly than we’d like. But whenever we recognize a need for change, or to step up and take action, ASAP might be a good time frame.

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