No. 509



From the first crack of the bat, I want to tell you that I have some good news to share with you today, especially if you have a tendency to procrastinate from time to time. To be sure, procrastination may not be all bad when it comes to taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, but it can have serious and negative consequences for our lives when it comes to making career choices or getting started on an exciting project of some kind. Since the earliest days when we became a nation, there have been literally millions of people who have had a dream or great idea that would have brought them all sorts of good rewards and would have been a service to mankind, but they did not have the courage to get started. These people procrastinated until the opportunity had passed. Do you know anyone like this? Could I be talking about you?

Back in 1981, I traveled down to visit my friend Tom Longfellow in Montgomery, Ala. Tom is originally from Siloam Springs, Ark., but back in those days he owned the Alabama Radio Network. The evening I arrived, Tom and his lovely wife, Wannie, took me out to dinner. The next day we were visiting in his office and I saw something on the wall that caught my eye. It was a framed quotation by W.H. Murray. Since that day I have tried to learn something about W.H. Murray, but have been unsuccessful. Anyway, the quotation was so good that I asked Tom for a copy and he was kind enough to take it down off the wall, remove it from the frame and make a copy for me. When I share it with you I believe you will understand why I was attracted to it and why it has become a very important part of my personal philosophy.

The quotation begins: "Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of imitation (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

The one word in this quotation that jumped out at me is the word providence. While I had read or heard it many times, this is a word that was not in my working vocabulary. I did know that Providence, R.I., is the capital city of that state. When I went to my encyclopedia to do a little research, I learned some things that will shed a little light on this word and how we can use it to our mutual advantage. Providence, R.I., is the second largest city in New England. Founded in 1636 by Roger Williams after he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and named in gratitude "for God's merciful providence to him in his distress," it was incorporated as a city in 1832. This dictionary says that providence is the "care exercised by God over the universe." As it's used here, in practical terms, this means that when we have the courage to make a definite commitment to a plan, a goal or a project, then a loving, caring God will bring forces into play that will work in our best interests.

In other words, we have unseen powers and resources working for us that cannot possibly come into play so long as we don't have the courage to make a definite commitment. To restate part of Mr. Murray's quotation will make this very clear Ð "A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way." When we do make a commitment and get started, then we have providence on our side and actually working for us.

The most exciting and rewarding thing I have ever done is when I made a commitment to spend the rest of my life working to improve literacy in our country. You would not believe the great number of people who have stepped forward to help, but they are not doing it for me. The reason is because there is a tremendous need to help children and youth from low-income families who don't have books, to acquire a passion for reading. When these children become successful adults, we all win. It is so exciting to see what God is doing, because we have providence working on our side. Now, I'm not suggesting that you quit your job and risk everything, but if you have a big goal or an unfilled dream, make plans, then make a commitment and providence will move for you, too.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)