April 13, 2009
Change Starts in the Heart . . . and in the Kitchen
by Charles R. Swindoll
Anyone who gets serious about weight loss, a regular exercise program, and keeping the body strong and healthy soon realizes some significant changes must occur. They'll be tough to pull off. Like, grabbing a quick bite at some fast food drive-through is "out" and preparing meals at home is "in." For many, this represents a major change---breaking a long-standing habit that fits a fast-lane lifestyle. Admittedly, it's not an easy habit to break, but the difference it will make is truly phenomenal.
Cynthia and I have found that planning ahead is the secret of preparing home-cooked meals. Whenever we take the time to think through our meals for the next two or three days---or more---we find it a lot easier to eat correctly. That, of course, takes some extra time. It calls for finding healthy recipes, making a shopping list, going down the aisles of the grocery store, and then actually preparing the food. Almost without exception, when we fail to follow those simple steps, we will cut corners, eat what we shouldn't, and then invariably regret it, no matter how good it tasted at the moment or how quick 'n' easy it was to eat on the run.
For more than 400 years, the Hebrews lived in Egypt, serving under the authority of one Egyptian pharaoh after another. Life eroded for them during those years. Ultimately, they became common slaves, existing under the harsh lash of taskmasters. Finally, God delivered them from bondage. The exodus occurred under the courageous leadership of 80-year-old Moses. They walked out of Egypt, freed from slavery, en route for the Promised Land. How exciting!
But also, how challenging! In order to get to Canaan, they had to leave the lifestyle, routine, foods, and other familiarities of Egypt and adapt to life in a rugged wilderness that was hot, barren, rocky, and unfamiliar, which they learned to hate. And don't forget, a big part of what they had to change was their diet . . . and they especially hated that!
Right off the bat, even before they left Egypt, the Lord instructed them to prepare a different kind of meal. Instead of fresh fish from the Nile, they were to prepare a roasted lamb. Instead of baking a big loaf of hot bread, they were to prepare unleavened bread---brittle, flat, and tasteless. And instead of the onions, melons, garlic, fresh vegetables, and other delicacies they had gotten used to, they were to prepare bitter herbs and a strange sauce-like dip that must have tasted weird to them. And all that was to be prepared before they even left Egypt!
Once they were on their way, there was another major challenge. They had to get used to preparing all kinds of ways to eat manna, which God delivered to them from heaven each morning. It wasn't long before they intensely hated that! Because they didn't want to change and because they were, by nature, stubborn and selfish, they finally pitched a fit and rebelled against Moses as well as God. They may have been freed from slavery, but they weren't anywhere near being freed from an old lifestyle.
One of my mentors, while teaching on that ancient scene, made things personal and relevant when he stated: "It takes a heavenly appetite to enjoy a heavenly food." Because their hearts were resistant to what God had planned (even though it would enable them to survive in the wilderness), they resented changing their diet and preparing different food. Many sermons can be found in all that, but I'll resist preaching here.
Let me close this devotional by making only a couple of suggestions. First, in order for you to have the right attitude toward preparing your food, you'll need to prepare your heart. As Thomas Jefferson said, "When the heart is right the feet are swift." A change of heart is basic to accepting these all-important changes in your diet. And second, in order for you to make these changes permanent, you'll need to accept them as part of a brand-new lifestyle. Please remember, adopting a healthy way of life isn't a two-week crash course or a month-long fad. As was true of the Hebrews in the wilderness, it represents a completely new and different lifestyle. Think of it this way: your plan for life-change will not simply help you to survive, but it will enable you to thrive.
Much of that starts in the kitchen.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.