Living in freedom from the bondage of food is not as far off as it seems. Picture the Israelites for a moment. They finally fled Egypt, leaving a life of slavery behind them—and before they could say, “see ya’ later subjugator,” Pharaoh was hot on their tail!
Why was he so eager to catch them? The answer is found in Exodus 14:8 where it says, “The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.”
Imagine it this way: Say you make a decision to live well today. You decide that you’re going to start eating well, and with it, you plan to walk 30 minutes/day, starting first thing tomorrow! You’ve decided that you’ve lived in bondage to food far too long, and you want to leave it behind in search of the Promised Land. A land flowing with milk and honey, where you are free from the pull of the fridge door, where you treat yourself well, and where you have peace with yourself.
So you wake up in the morning, energized, and ready to take on the world, but before you do, your nose leads you straight down the hall. That’s where you discover that junior threw up last night’s lasagna on the living room floor, and his serving of upside-down cake, is right-side-up, along with it. You put your sneakers aside, start to clean up the mess, usher the little one toward the tub, and throw his jammies in the wash—then the phone rings. “Hi, it’s me,” your husband says, but his voice doesn’t have the same jingle it usually does, in fact there’s discouragement in his tone… And the problems begin to accumulate, throwing your day into a spin, and your plans along with it.
That’s when you just might decide in your heart, “I didn’t expect to deal with all of this right now—it’s too much. I’m tired, I’m stressed, and all I can think of is sinking my teeth into the nearest loaf of French bread, while zoning out on the couch. I’m better off returning to the bondage of food, leaving the thought of exercise behind, and returning to the life that I had. After all—it was never really that bad.”
This thought has been echoed throughout the ages, starting way back as far as Exodus 14, when in verses 11&12 the Israelites asked “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?’ It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
If you are in that desert of testing ladies, stay strong. Before turning around and heading straight back to the bondage you’ve lived in for years, pause to listen to the promise of God found in verse 13&14:
“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.’”
Be still. When you are standing in the desert of testing with your back to the sea and all you can see in front of you is the enemy closing in—be still. Stand firm, and you will find deliverance. Have you ever stood still long enough to witness God performing His work? Have you ever stood still in His presence and let Him fight your enemy? Be still. Because when you do, God will triumph over your enemy, release you from your stronghold, and you will know that He is God.
God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that He would pursue the Israelites, but when he did, God not only rescued His people—He also sabotaged the pursuit of the Egyptians by removing their chariot wheels, and finally covering them with the sea. Can you hear the sound of the Israelites rejoicing at the sight? Can you hear the sound of your own voice rejoicing when you press on in faith and let God destroy the enemy that you leave behind?
“That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” – Exodus 14:30-31
I love reading the stories from the Old Testament, because there is so much to glean from them. The events that they lived through typify our walk with Christ in so many ways. SO MANY. Whether they are about the slavery in Egypt, the time spent in the wilderness, crossing the Red Sea, or entering The Promised Land. Those stories teach us lessons that we can apply to our lives today. Paul writes, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4.
“Hope,” ladies. Did you read that? That we might have hope! There is a desert of testing–yes. It will be hard, before it gets easy. If it wasn’t we’d all be model thin and run two miles a day. Life isn’t that easy, but that’s ok.
Let that thought sink in for a minute: “Life isn’t easy, but that’s ok.” In fact it’s better than ok, when we consider the maturity that it brings to our soul:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1:2-4
God desires to triumph over our enemies. He desires to rescue you from your stronghold. He desires to lead you to The Promised Land; will you let Him?
Let’s start by getting back to patience—a characteristic most of us lack. Two weeks at a gym, and women are discouraged that the weight isn’t coming off. Even a slow computer can get some of us in a tailspin. Life takes time—remember that—it takes time.
If you give up and return to Egypt at the first sign of trouble you’re missing out on the blessings that God has to offer. You’re missing out on the promise He gives to trample our enemies under His feet. “With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” ~ Psalm 108:13
What happens at the second sign of trouble—if you plateau for a week, two weeks, or a month? If it rains just as you plan to go out for a walk—every time? Will you—like the Israelites—grumble once again, longing for the day when you ate all of the bread that you wanted? That’s what they did. Even after experiencing the crossing of the Red Sea, a miracle we can barely imagine let alone feel beneath our feet, they wanted to return to slavery, because they were hungry, and too impatient to wait on God for their food. Sound familiar?
If I’ve learned anything from past mistakes it’s this: we need to take that step of patience now—not tonight, not tomorrow—right now. Push the food to the side, today. Why? Because as I’ve mentioned before, living a life of sacrifice is an “act of spiritual worship.”
Some might say, “It’s just food—get real!” But no—it’s not just food, any more than gold is just gold. When your life molds or shapes it into something that you idolize, or use to tranquilize, it becomes your golden calf.
Consider the Israelites in Exodus chapter 32. They were free from slavery, as God pointed out in verse 7, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt..”
He goes on to say, “They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'” (verse 8)
How it must pain God when He frees us from addiction, whether it be to food, alcohol, smoking, porn, binging, purging… whatever our stronghold is, only to find us returning to it once again, hoping to find tranquility; excusing the struggle we have with our weakness so we can worship and cling to the golden calf once again.
God doesn’t always provide the easy way out. He doesn’t promise that life will be easy or free of temptation; in fact temptation is something we can always expect. But what He does provide, and promise to us is this: He’ll always provide a way to escape. There’s always a way out—a better way to escape from our pain—and with a little soul searching and determination, a way to leave the golden calf behind.
1 Corinthians 10:11-13, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
(Scripture from the NIV)
©2008, Darlene Schacht
*We advise that you always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.