Saturday, March 24, 2007

when tempted—engage strategically

I’ve been contemplating strategies and spiritual disciplines when encountering temptation. I was at a stand still over two different approaches. One is on the opposite of the continuum from the other: you can either face temptation like an animal stalking its prey or run for your life. We hear of the nobility and honorableness of the later one quite often—or at least I have in the more fundamental circles. Joseph’s response to the temptation of Potiphar’s wife is their showcase story. Joseph is the hero. He resisted valiantly, leaving his coat behind in order to escape temptation and was falsely accused and thrown into jail. It was the best case scenario for the situation. Or is it?

I’ve noticed a different approach. And I think I prefer it. Two of my mentors have talked about in different ways. One says, “lean into your fear.” The other often said, “Don’t run from a temptation—look it square in the eyes and then walk toward it, purposefully.” Over come it—don’t run away.

It stands to reason. If one avoids tempting situations, one can spend their entire life walking around tempting situations. It seems a very encumbered existence to walk around things all the time. Wouldn’t it be better if that tempting thing no longer had a leash on you? How does that happen? Jesus gives us an example of how to overcome temptation, with his desert experience. He confronts it with authority and with truth (Scripture).

I’ve also read an Eldridge book recently. His advice concurs. When Satan brings a situation of temptation into our lives—that very moment is a possibility for victory. We are not to run from it, for it is our big chance, it is our possibility for victory over the temptation. It is a matter of perspective—Is the glass half full or is it half empty? Is this your opportunity to set a precedent for overcoming this temptation or is it the moment to again bow to the temptation’s power over you?

The question Eldridge answers is, how does temptation not become temptation anymore? How does that addiction dissipate? How can one suddenly give a decided, “no” to something that once held him/her over the barrel.


It’s so simple but obscure and nonsensical to most. Healing is the answer. We are inexplicably drawn to/attached to the things that have hurt us deeply. Those incidents are written onto our souls. We grasp for salve that would heal us, but Satan stands there offering us salt for our wounds. We long for healing so much that we trick ourselves into believing that the bowl of salt is the salve. And we take it and apply it, only to come away with more pain in the same wound. The boy who broke up with me. And the boys who continue to break up with me. The friend who betrayed me. And the friends who continue to betray me. The church leader who humiliated me. And the authority figures who continue to humiliate me. If I am not healed, where healing is enabled by my forgiveness of the other, then this moment of my wounding will reoccur forever, presenting itself as a temptation to sin--forever.

Behind every temptation there is a wound. And behind every wound there is Jesus waiting to heal. Encountering the temptation involves an authentic encounter with the fears and terrors of one’s past woundings.

Therefore, lean into your fear. Grab your temptation by the horns and in the power and strength that God gives you—be an overcomer.

Gen 21:14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob. 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

1 comment:

PeacefulLady said...

What you're saying sounds familiar, though I hadn't put it in the context of temptation (as you have done here very well)

It brings to mind several times very recently where I've suddenly recognized certain fears blocking my way.... and I did what you're talking about- I leaned into the fear and looked it in the eye.

One example: Realizing that I am/was afraid God will humiliate me and shame me, the robbing of dignity and honor... when I faced it, I had the joy of fully connecting my mind and heart in realization,
"I know my Father God is not like that! That is not who He is."
Yes, He may correct me-- but it wouldn't feel the same as that, i gladly want His correction.
And also, yes I may come to situations where I am shamed by others, but if HE allows it I will believe it's bc of the life He knows could result (as for Jesus) Healing is resulting from this whole process. It's also connected to a very big risk I am about to take and I'm terrified in a sense. My trust in God seems very much on the sharp edge (Deep breath before the plunge)I'd appreciate your prayers that I would continue to calmly trust and not run to anxiety.