The trouble with manyana

I was looking at Pharaoh with the ‘we get up early on Friday because we are mighty men of God’ group this morning. We followed a study in my mate Carl Beech’s fantastic book Spadework. Turns out none of us really want to walk like that particular Egyptian. The pride and arrogance he displayed in continually saying no to God is what got him in so much trouble. You think Gordon Brown has problems this morning with the awful drubbing his party is receiving in the local elections around the country? Read the list of plagues – it could be worse!

Unlike Mugabe, at least there’ll be some contrition. No doubt we’ll be hearing from various Labour politicians today about how “…the people have sent us a clear signal that we’re going to listen to and make all the necessary changes… blah blah blah…”

I imagine Pharaoh said something very similar as his nation lurched from bad to worse. He was surrounded by ‘wise men’ who told him he was great, and it would all soon turn a corner and be okay in the end.

This isn’t about Mr Brown, Labour’s misfortunes, or politics. It’s about you and me. Ignoring God.

As God’s spokesman stepped into his palace and demanded, “let my people go,” Pharaoh forgot that all the blessings and wealth he had received which he and his people had received came from God of Israel in the first place, via Joseph (read all about it here). We too easily forget as nations and individuals that without God’s hand of protection and blessing on us, all would be curse and plague.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that many people who would never dream of thanking God when something good happens in their lives, automatically blame Him for something bad?

Much of what happened to Egypt parallels exactly the biblical warnings of the consequences of ignoring or rebelling against God’s laws, one ends up living under a curse of our own making, rather than the blessing He desires for people.

One of the most haunting parts of the account is early on, only the second plague, as frogs teem throughout the land. Pharaoh had the chance to heed the warnings of the first plague when the Nile turned to blood, to let the children of Israel go out to worship God. But his advisers stroke his ego, and he thinks of himself as a god anyway. “Who is this God of the slaves?” Why should the powerful and the rich listen to the God of the weak, the poor and the oppressed? (Is it any wonder the book of Exodus – a goldmine for liberation theologians – is specifically banned as radical revolutionary material in some oppressive states?).

I don’t know, perhaps Pharaoh had Batrachophobia, but the frogs really got to him. He begged Moses to plead with God to get rid of the frogs. He promised he would comply and change the policies so the people could go and worship. So here’s the part that grabbed me. Moses said, “Okay, when do you want this to happen? When do you want to connect with God in this way so that things will change? I’ll leave it up to you to set the time.”

(The frogs picture is from

What would you say, with frogs all over the place? You’re having a laugh! Surely you’d want them to hop it (ouch) now! Not one more slimy second would I want those amphibian atrocities in my house, in the bed, in my kitchen. Get them out!

Exodus 8:10 “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.

If there was a biblical award for the patron saint of Procrastination, it goes to this guy. He was going to go to Procrastinator’s Anonymous but they never got round to meeting.

So, where are your frogs?

What are you putting off changing today (even though you know it’s going to create a world of trouble) until tomorrow?

Actually going to that gym you paid membership for? A phone call to sort out a relationship? Someone you need to encourage? Someone you need to let go? I still need to sort my taxes out for this year. It’s the jobs I hate I never find time for. People smoke one last cigarette standing outside the cancer ward, and tomorrow they’ll give it up. When will you write the book? Take the trip? Learn the instrument/ language? Do you think you’ll get serious about finding out about God tomorrow? You’ll pray about that situation and ask God’s help with it tomorrow? Tomorrow never comes. Do it today. Carpe Diem!

The leaders of nations need to stop making promises about changes that will help the poor, break the shackles of debt, feed the hungry and set captives free – not ten or fifteen years from now when they’ll be collecting their pension and writing their memoirs, but today. Now.

What is there to stop us getting rid of the frogs today?

My dad was Irish and he told me about a conversation between a Spaniard and an Irishman where the Spanish guy was trying to teach him about the concept of manyana. “It’s a word that means you’re going to put something off until tomorrow, or maybe the day after, or a day after that…”

The Irishman said, “I don’t think we have a word to describe such a terrible state of urgency.”

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