A n ancient legend tells how once the devil decided to destroy the world and called in all of his chief assistants for counsel. First came Anger who said, “Let me be in charge of the project. I will set brother against brother. In anger the people of earth will destroy themselves.”

Next came Lust to offer a plan. “I will defile the minds of mankind. Love will disappear from the earth. People will become like beasts.” Then Greed made his suggestion, “Entrust the campaign to me. I will instill in human hearts the most destructive and damning of all passions. Unbridled desire will wipe out God’s crowning creation.”

The twins Gluttony and Drunkenness presented their strategy. “Give the task to us. We will disease men’s bodies and warp and degrade their minds.” And so it went. In turn, Envy, Jealousy and Hate made proposals for the annihilation of the world. Idleness felt sure he could do the job better than all the others combined. But somehow the devil still wasn’t satisfied.

Finally, the last assistant stood before him. “I have given the matter my utmost thought. I shall talk with the people of the earth and remind them they are children of God. I shall urge them to act as such, to be upright, honest, clean and brave.”

The devil was aghast. “What in the world are you thinking?” he cried. The last assistant calmly continued, “I shall hold up high ideals and great spiritual goals. However, I will make it clear that there is no hurry. Today is for dreaming and for making plans. What is to be done can be done tomorrow.” There was no doubt; this plan was the best. “You are commissioned, the devil said. “Go and destroy the world.”

And so it was that Procrastination was sent.

An unknown poet has written:

He was going to be all a mortal could be, tomorrow.

No one would be braver or kinder than he, tomorrow;

A friend who was worried and troubled he knew,

He could give a lift and he needed it, too,

On him he would call and see what he could do, tomorrow.

Each morning he staked the letters he’d write, tomorrow,

And thought of the folk he would fill with delight, tomorrow.

Too bad that he was busy today,

And hadn’t the time to stop on the way.

“More time I will have to give others,” he’d say, “tomorrow.”

The greatest of workers this man would have been, tomorrow.

The world would have known him if he’d ever seen tomorrow.

But, in fact, he passed on and vanished from view,

And all that he left here when living was through,

Was a mountain of things he intended to do, tomorrow. Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.

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2013-02-14 digital edition

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