The first week of June, my family and I spent a week at the beach. It was a great time together. We’ve done this for the past twenty-five years. Usually vacation means vacation – no diet, no exercise, just rest and relaxation. However, it never ends well for me when I truly take a vacation from what I know to do to be healthy. I usually eat too much sugar. I get “glutened” at some point. I usually don’t sleep well while I am there. It all adds up by the end of the week; so by the time I get home, I need a few days (or weeks) to recuperate from vacation.
This year, I did something different. I went with a different attitude. I pre-decided what I would and wouldn’t do. I went prepared with my own gluten-free treat – with sugar – but the plan was only one a day. I decided I wouldn’t lift weights, but I would walk every day. When we went out to eat, I would ask questions about what I was eating. No gluten products this time around. Soon after arrival, my niece asked me what my “cheat” would be. I planned to stick to my preplanned choices as much as I could even when my temptations would get the best of me.
I ended this vacation in much better shape. I didn’t really have a “cheat” this time around. Hushpuppies were the first temptation to overcome. Done. I walked every day. I stuck with my one treat a day. And I slept pretty well for home away from home. In all, it went very well for me physically. Mentally and emotionally, I was recharged because I was in my happy place – with my family and at the beach. Two of my favorite things in life! Pre-planning was a win-win for me.
When trying to change anything in our lives, I think we lose the battle of “the will” when we haven’t already pre-decided what will happen when the temptations come. And the temptations will always come. Hushpuppies may not be a thing for you, but for me with melted honey butter, I wanted them bad. But I already decided I wasn’t going to let it happen. I enjoyed what I had before me, and I didn’t let what I couldn’t have bother me. It’s a mental game.
We always pay the consequences of our choices – sometimes we see it right away; sometimes it takes a while. When it takes awhile for the consequences to happen, we think we’ve gotten away with the cheat. But it will always show up at some point. The law of sowing and reaping is very true. Our wills are not enough to keep us from cheating. Our will falls with the smallest temptation. But there is something about pre-deciding to take a course of action that helps us stay the course even under trying circumstances. The Prophet Daniel was a good example of this concept.
When I think of Daniel’s life, I am reminded he also had pre-decided what he would and wouldn’t do while he was exiled in Babylon. His first test was eating the king’s food. He declined the richness and stuck to the plan of honoring God with his choices. He kept with his spiritual habits of praying three times a day; even when he knew it was going to be dangerous to do so. He stuck to his plan, and it paid off for him. God was faithful to Daniel during his exile because Daniel honored God. Daniel was elevated to an honorable position because of his choices.
The Daniel Plan isn’t about the food choices we make, but about honoring God with our choices. It’s about staying focused on what is good and honorable. It’s about prayer and staying connected in God’s word. It’s about planning ahead to do what is right even when the choice is not popular. It’s about loving God more than the temptations that will move us further from God’s plan for our lives.
Food choices can have devastating consequences over time. In any decision, making the right choice always brings better results. Pre-deciding to stick to the plan will always help in meeting your goals.