Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Word 2011.5 - Temptation I Land

NOTE: I'm taking my One Word through the year, journaling at the end of each month what I discovered. You can read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four (admittedly my favorite so far), or Part Five at their respective links.


Admit it: we all have something that tempts us. 

Be it that pint of ice cream you know you shouldn't have bought but did anyway to that website it clearly wouldn't hurt to look at just one more time...again...before you vow to never look at it again...again. There is that one item/person/thing that is your struggle, your albatross, your constant fight to not live the life of Romans 7:15 ("I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.") that comes back to haunt you time after time.

For those who don't have this addictive struggle - and yes, there are some who don't - your struggle may be a bit different. I don't envy you your spiritual maturity or your physical and emotional willpower. You may have to fight pride, arrogance or judgmental attitudes against those of us who do have these struggles. Your struggle may be more against powers and principles more directly than what I fight against. I know that these spiritual forces are at the root of my own struggles, and ultimately they're who (to paraphrase Psalm 23) lead me down my own path of self-righteousness for my own sake. However, my struggle is also against myself and my own nature.

The difference between me and Daniel in terms of our respective lion's dens is that he was SENT into the lion's den, and he TRUSTED God to deliver him. I know that sometimes I CHOOSE to willingly walk into mine, smothered in A-1 sauce, and EXPECT that God will protect me and keep me safe. One is faith, the other is arrogance.

I don't so much have a thorn in my flesh as I have a whole bramble garden embedded in my side. There are one or two that jab deeper and with greater pain into my soul. It's not like they're new to me; in fact, one in particular I can trace back to it first taking root in me while my biological age was still in single digits. This isn't to say that, for example, I took up gambling while in kindergarten. It simply means that looking back over the course of my life, I've been able to trace this one recurring sin, this one constant struggle back to an event (actually, "events" in the plural) in the 70's. Yes, I am that old, and no, I'm not talking about disco.

I know what to will take to help rid myself of this sin; or at the very least get some aid in battling it. It's kind of like how back in 1999/2000 when I went to a dermatologist because I had a wart on my hand (contracted from using an unsanitary computer keyboard in a college library). In order to not just take care of the problem on the surface of my hand, they had to cut down through me, exposing layers of skin in the palm of my hand, and burn it out. Because the roots were that deep. Oh yeah, it hurt. Oh yeah, it stunk. And oh yeah, it was embarrassing to have to talk about the wound I was carrying, bandages exposed for the world to see.

But today, I see that scar - much like I see my other physical and spiritual scars - not as a sign of where I've been hurt, but where I've been healed.

The first step is to take I Corinthians 10:13 as a promise to hold to, and not just something to quote to those who are hurting: "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." It's the last part of the verse that is key: "When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure." So that you can endure.

The reason you keep seeing blog entries about others who share in your struggle? The reason you keep finding Tweets that are relative to you? The reason why, after you dust the cobwebs off your Bible, you find passages in Scripture that relate to your battle? That's God. Showing you a way out. Not lightning bolt level forcing, but showing. Guiding. In Isaiah 11:2, the Holy Spirit is referred to as both the Spirit of Counsel and Might. Guidance. With the strength to endure.

I remain, as always on this journey, seeking shalam. The deeper I dig into myself and what it means to be complete, the more of what has kept me from it gets exposed. This scares the hell out of me (pun intended). It also wears me out, wears me down, and makes me feel fractured.

Makes me want to just go crank up Steve Taylor's "The Finish Line" that much more.

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