Will next year’s Feast be better than the one just past? It can be if you are willing to PLAN for it. Not beginning six weeks before the Feast, not even six months before – but starting RIGHT NOW!
“WONDERFUL!” “TERRIFIC!” “The greatest and most inspiring Feast I have ever attended!” ” … we had such a fabulous time!” These are common expressions heard from the people of God’s Church immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. It is always gratifying to those who work at Festival planning to hear such remarks and realize that their labors were not in vain!
How Was YOUR Feast?
Did every single thing about the Feast this year really turn out the way you would have liked? Did some things go wrong that detracted from your enjoyment of the Feast? What about family fun and recreation? Was it as deeply rewarding and enjoyable as you thought it should be? Were you and your family as inspired as you could have been by the preaching of God’s ministers ? Couldn’t it have been just a little more satisfying? It’s absolutely guaranteed that some have voiced, or at the very least thought, some expression of satisfaction about the way things went. Why?
The Perfect Feast?
Whose fault was it that this year’s Feast wasn’t quite perfect for you and yours? Before you point the finger, stop and think! Was it really Grandpa’s fault? Or Mother’s? Or the car’s? Or somebody else’s? Could it be that the reason some things went wrong in your particular case was because you just DIDN’T PLAN AHEAD? Every year those concerned with Festival organization STRIVE with every fiber of their being to produce a perfectly organized Feast. They know the importance of preparation. Yet every year something still somehow manages to go wrong ! In most cases, incidental, sometimes insignificant, little things, which for the most part go unnoticed by the average member – but, nonetheless, SOMETHING always goes awry ! Why? Simply because we are all not yet perfect. We all must grow to BECOME perfect (Matt. 5:48). Organization for next year’s Feast has already begun in earnest. The things that misfired this year will be anticipated and watched for next year. Next year’s Feast is being PLANNED NOW! Each year, therefore, the Feast becomes better and better organized. And who knows, perhaps – maybe – you may yet attend the PERFECT Feast of Tabernacles! That occurrence may be unlikely, but one thing is certain, organization IS getting better!
What About YOUR Organization?
The Feast of Tabernacles, remember, is a type of the way things will be in the World Tomorrow, with the Kingdom of God ruling the earth and bringing peace and security to billions. That, of itself, will present quite an organizational challenge. And, of course, it’s another one of the things we all have the opportunity to learn in this life. With that in mind, then, what about your Feast? Are YOU planning ahead right now for next year? Planning the physical things can help YOU better appreciate the spiritual lessons. The physical is a type of the spiritual, and good physical organization for the Feast certainly expresses the right spiritual attitude. But the physical aspects of the Feast should not completely overshadow and dominate the spiritual. The period of the Feast of Tabernacles should be USED to instil in our minds a greater desire to see the Kingdom of God ushered in for the greater benefit of all mankind! If, however, there was NO planned recreation, fellowship or relaxation, where would the command to “rejoice” be fulfilled ? It’s a matter of striking the right balance between the two – the spiritual understanding being exemplified by the physical enjoyment. What could be a better time to start thinking about next year’s Feast than right NOW, while your mind is still full of the things you have made a mental reservation to change next time around. Unless you strike while the iron is hot, the things that went wrong this year probably will go wrong next year! To help you begin sound planning now, here are some points that will aid you in approaching the Feast from the overall standpoint. By the time you finish reading, many other ideas will come to mind.
Make a List
First, make a list of all the things you would like to do differently next year. It might include making out a budget for your second tithe, or the method of transportation used to get to the Feast site. You might even decide to be a little more adventurous and camp next year, or plan to stay with another family and share expenses. Perhaps your list should include the note to adopt in your plans some of the things you heard in the sermons during the Feast this year, relative to diet or sleep or exercise or anything that will enable you – and subsequently others – to get the most from the eight day period God has set aside as a foretaste of the Millennium. Make this a check list that you can review from time to time as a reminder for action ! Begin to practice and build right habits that will already be well entrenched by next fall. This list can also be a receptacle for all the “picky things” you wouldn’t normally discuss with others, such as remembering to bring your own personal seat cushion, etc. Little things that are personal to you and your family alone can make quite a difference to your enjoyment of the Feast. Our God wants us to rejoice, remember, so think about removing every obstacle that may hinder you from doing so – and put it on your list!
Much of our Festival enjoyment depends on adequate financial resources, especially for those with large families. Planning ahead can make your money go further. The first financial rule, therefore, is to obey God in faithfully saving your second tithe. DON’T BORROW FROM IT, even under times of great temptation or seeming emergency. Experience has shown that those who do borrow from this fund almost invariably wind up behind in keeping a true tenth of their income, and things tend to go from bad to worse. If you are having severe financial problems and the temptation is overwhelming, talk to one of God’s ministers about it. He can give you some timely advice that will save your second tithe and help in preserving a large portion of your character. Incidentally, if you are a widow or a person who cannot keep second tithe because you have no tithable income, you also can benefit from planning ahead. Maybe you can save other extra money you may receive. You might even consider doing some kind of light work at home, or adopting a paying hobby with a view to accumulating the funds for a trip to the Feast! Even if you still have to receive help from the second tithe fund, you will undoubtedly receive a great deal of personal satisfaction from “doing your bit”! It’s something to think about.
Plan Offerings, Too!
Here’s another practical tip. Don’t forget your Holy Day offerings! As God commands, these offerings are taken up during the three Festival seasons each year. God PLANNED it this way! Are you planning ahead for these special offerings? Holy Day offerings, planned ahead with a little put aside from each paycheck, can be much more personally satisfying. You’ll be surprised how much more you’ll be able to give when the time comes!
Once you have decided upon and set in motion a realistic financial plan, you should also turn your attention to the matter of transportation. Every year a certain percentage of those attending the Feast experience some form of car trouble, from a “fender bender” in the fog to perhaps the dull thud of a gearbox falling to the ground and shattering! Next year it can be different. Don’t try to squeeze another 2,000 miles out of any bald tires or knocking transmission. It may be that the heaviest workout your car gets all year is the drive to the Feast loaded with luggage, children, in-laws, friends, and spare parts ! Be sure, therefore, to plan to have your car in TIP-TOP SHAPE BEFORE (not during) the Feast, and you can save yourself and family a tremendous headache and a great deal of worry. Put it on your list: “overhaul car for Feast,” and have it done enough ahead of time so that you can take a prior “shakedown” trip to be sure everything is all right. If you plan to buy another car soon, why not do it early enough before the Feast so that you can work out all the “bugs,” and at the same time KNOW that your· transportation is sound? Perhaps next year you might consider another method of transportation entirely – maybe the train or bus or even airplane, and then rent a car at your destination. Whatever mode of travel you decide on, however, consider the expense, make sure it is reliable, and start to think about it NOW / It’s never too soon to plan such a major dimension in next year’s Feast of Tabernacles.
Family Recreation and Activities
For many families, the Feast of Tabernacles is the only vacation of the year – and some, unfortunately, don’t include enough good, wholesome family recreation on the agenda. Brethren, please don’t abandon your greatest responsibility – that of the welfare and unity of your family – during this time of great rejoicing which pictures the very Kingdom of God on earth! Please don’t use excuses for a lack of planned FAMILY enjoyment. In every case, the Feast is held in an area not only noted for its great natural beauty, but also well-known for its recreational opportunities. It is one of the requirements looked for by those who plan each Feast site development. Why not plan ahead certain family recreational activities and trips on your way to, during, and from the Feast? At the Feast you should be able to make your schedule flexible enough to adapt to any work detail you might find yourself on. You might begin by getting out your old Festival brochures and studying the possibilities. And why not write to the local Chamber of Commerce or Tourist Bureau of the area where you will be attending the Feast and ask for brochures and maps showing the local recreational opportunities? Going over these as a family, with pictures and pamphlets spread over the living room floor, and planning to do certain things builds up a piquant feeling of anticipation in your children which will do a lot toward helping the entire family gain the utmost enjoyment from the whole eight-day period. You might also plan to go a few days earlier next year, if you can possibly afford it, and do some sight-seeing on the way.
Again, God’s Feast sites are so well-located that the trip there, as well as back, can be tremendously inspiring. Bear in mind, however, the points already mentioned and don’t become so preoccupied with recreation that you lose the real spiritual meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles. Rather, let the opportunities that present themselves serve to bring home the meaning of family life in a wholesome, recreational atmosphere, and so point up the significance of the Feast in a greater way. Take charge, Dad, and show the family you can play as well as work! Strive to do things together as a family next year, and don’t make your children look for their own recreation. The Feast is primarily a family time/ Also, why not plan to include in your group a person or a family who may not have the financial blessings you have? That might double, or even triple, your overall enjoyment of the Feast!
Other Points to Planning
Some other areas that would do well to be planned would include acquiring the right kind of clothing suitable for the area you will be attending, especially for your children. You may want to take advantage of sales and other opportunities to make savings during the coming months to expand the family wardrobe, bearing in mind the fall season. At just about every Feast site you can expect rain, or even snow, at that time of the year. So be prepared ! Decide whether your Feast will be more meaningful and enjoyable if you camp, as opposed to living in a hotel or motel or other kind of housing. By the way, be sure to get the dates marked off on your vacation schedule at work just as soon as it comes out to let your employer know well ahead of time that you already have plans for that period. It is not a good practice to suddenly spring it on him a week before you leave, thus possibly leaving him in a bind that could have been avoided by foresight. As a matter of fact, it might not be a bad idea to make yourself a schedule for the next year and set aside dates on a calendar to achieve certain goals relating to the Feast. For example, “car overhaul, etc., etc. This may sound somewhat detailed, brethren, but nothing is lost by PLANNING AHEAD, and there is everything to gain! There is no substitute for wise planning and thinking ahead, and it is never too early at least to begin. A little extra care given to Festival planning now will allow you the utmost mental freedom and peace at your Festival site next year and help you set an even more outstanding example.
The Feast of Tabernacles should be a microcosm of the way the Kingdom of God will be – and, believe me, God has planned ahead! Is God organized? Of course! How long do you suppose He has been planning for His Kingdom? For at least thousands of years! Can we do any less than our part ? Planning, praying and meditating on next year’s Feast will not only help you and your family enjoy it to the FULLEST EXTENT, it might even make the difference as to whether you will be there or not! Did you think the last Feast of Tabernacles was the “BEST EVER”? Why not set your mind and plan to make next year’s even GREATER?!
Author – Frank Brown – Good News 1970
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