There's a great Jerry Rice quote that goes like this:
“Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.”
I love the sentiment behind this quote because it embodies a concept we see all too infrequently these days — Delayed Gratification. The idea that the work we put in today will somehow be compounded by time and we will eat of the fruit of our efforts in due time.
In today's culture of “fast forward everything” it seems nearly stupid to wait for anything. And yet, I want to argue that there is still tremendous value in planting, watering, tending and eventually harvesting the seed of expectation and vision in your life.
I'm a Christian and I like to read the Bible. One of my favorite books to read when it comes to this idea of delayed gratification is Daniel. Daniel was a Jew and a prophet during a time in history when his people were exiled to Babylon under a pretty harsh king. And yet Daniel was selected to serve in the royal court and lead a band of magicians as he divined dreams and gave the king heavenly advice.
Daniel was also aware of certain promises that had been made to his people. Promises that involved going back home. And as the appointed time drew near for this promise to come to pass, Daniel became discouraged because of certain peripheral goings on in the kingdom where he currently resided.
Because of this, chapter 10 tells us that Daniel goes into mourning and the Bible says he begins to fast. No meat, no pleasant foods, no wine. Daniel makes a major change to his every day routine. He's doing this because he's learned somewhere along the way that to deny yourself in this way will cause God to move — to reveal himself, his purposes and/or his strategies. So he sets his heart to understand how the things he sees going on around him can possibly line up with the promises that are supposed to be coming to pass.
Daniel decides to do something that others in his circle won't do. He decides to deny his appetite today in hopes that he'll eat of something tomorrow the others can't. And his determination pays off.
A little further into the chapter and we find that an angel comes to visit Daniel to explain the vision that he had previously seen regarding the promise. But here's what I want to point out. Daniel isn't alone by the river when the angel comes to visit to deliver the download. But, interestingly, Daniel is the only one who can perceive what's really going on during this visit.
All the other people who were gathered by the river with Daniel can sense something has shifted, but they perceive it as something to be afraid of, and they actually run away. But because Daniel can perceive of what is really going on, he remains and receives the download of a lifetime.
What are you willing to do today so you can perceive what others cannot tomorrow? What will you deny yourself today so you can eat fruit others won't even be able to touch tomorrow?
I get up at 5am every single morning so I can invest some time in prayer and reading the Word so I will have a revelation to live by and to share with my church family on Sundays when I preach. I find that it's in these early morning hours that I'm sowing seed into my future. Because, when crisis hits for me, as it does for everyone, I find I'm drawing from the harvest that's growing out of those 5am seeds. The two hours less sleep over the years have proven to be some really valuable seed! I don't regret even one of those minutes of lost sleep.
What will you do differently today so you can see a different tomorrow? What stretch are you willing to make this week that will pay off in spades next month or next year? What one habit can you commit to right now that will change the outcome of your future? Get after it today and start sowing into your future!