All of us would agree that the Feast of Tabernacles is a great time of year. We’re away from home, picturing God’s Kingdom, being inspired by spiritually rich messages and multiple fellowship opportunities. And we enjoy the “physical” Feast, too, sometimes eating a lot more and a lot differently than we do the rest of the year.
Maybe you’ve come home from the Feast with “extra pounds” you didn’t want. Maybe it’s not as easy to shed those extra pounds and get back into the pattern of healthy eating as you thought it would be.
Anyone who has been on a diet knows it takes effort, will power, and a desire to change before you can adopt a new way of eating and exercise. It takes determination to say no to what you want and to start eating what is best for you, and it takes commitment to maintain that change. After a few weeks and months in this new lifestyle—your new pattern—you feel comfortable, encouraged, and motivated by the positive changes in the way you feel, the way you move, and the energy you have. It is gratifying to step on the scale and see the results.
But, inevitably something comes along, like the Feast or another occasion, where you are tempted to interrupt that pattern. After all, you feel like you have your weight under control, that you are “in charge” and have this “mastered.” You’ll be able to get back into the old pattern without too much trouble, right?
You learn a valuable lesson. Once you “go back” to your old lifestyle, returning to the pattern of a healthy diet is tough to do.
When we come into God’s truth, big changes have to occur in our lives. We give up our old ways, our old patterns of behavior that don’t mesh with God’s way. We commit to a new lifestyle; we commit to developing a pattern of obedience to God, following Him exactly as He says to follow Him.
We put out of our lives, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, sin and the “sins that do so easily beset,” such as pride, weaknesses, attitudes, entertainment choices, and proclivities that can lead us off the spiritual road to eternal life. We make the choice to walk with God, and to develop a relationship with Him on His terms. We feel true joy.
Inevitably in our Christian lives, we are tempted to deviate from that pattern, maybe “just a little.” Something comes up and we may start asking ourselves: Does it really matter if we miss a few Sabbath services when we’re really tired or “just don’t feel up to it?” Will it really matter if we miss a day or two of prayer or Bible study when we are really busy at work and “just can’t find the time?” Does it really matter if we watch that movie, read that book, go to that nightclub, or spend time on that internet site we know we shouldn’t?” Does it really matter if we yield to our old desires, just a little?
After all, we may think, we are converted, we know God’s way, and we would never fall back into our old ways. It is precisely at that moment we are in danger.
But return we must, with all our hearts, minds, and souls.
Satan is always looking for the opportunity to disrupt our patterns of obedience to God. He knows if we will open that door “just a little,” he can use that against us. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
It’s a powerful lesson we all must learn. Once we break the pattern of commitment, obedience, discipline, and complete submission to God, it can be difficult to return to that pattern.
The dieter who finds himself back in a pattern of unhealthy eating day after day has a choice to make. If he doesn’t exercise the discipline to return to the healthy lifestyle pattern, he will return to the weight and state of health he had hoped to leave behind.
Spiritually, if we stray, take liberty with God’s clear commands, or give into our natural desires, it can be difficult to return to the correct course and pattern of obedience, good works, and total submission to God.
But return we must, with all our hearts, minds, and souls, because the consequences of not returning are much more serious than weight regain. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom 6:16).
If you have drifted, slipped back into old patterns, or find yourself feeling “distant” from God and His people, you have a choice to make. God, who wants to give us eternal life, implores us to return to Him and the life He called us to:
“The LORD has been very angry with your fathers. Therefore, say to them, ‘return to Me, and I will return to you,” (Zechariah 1:2-3); “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why would you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek 18:31-32). UN