I watched a short news clip the other night about a black bear in Colorado who managed to find his way into an automobile parked in the family's driveway, then lock himself inside. Imagine coming out to leave for the day one morning and finding a little bit of a scary ball of fur in your front seat! While the homeowners were walking round and round the car trying to figure out how he got inside the car and if there was a way to actually let him out, the bear moved from side to side, almost petitioning to be set free. His gaze through the now pretty smeared up windows was not one of anger, but of pleading to be free again. I don't think the bear liked it anymore than the homeowner did that he had ended up stuck in that car overnight! Newscasters commented on how bears can find themselves in the most unusual predicaments in life - all because curiosity got the best of them. Honestly, I don't think we humans fair much better on that one!
Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward.
(I Corinthians 10:13)
As Paul reminds us, any temptation we face, regardless of how intriguing or inviting it is, it isn't something brand spanking new - it has been faced by someone and even more than once by one of us! Curiosity gets the better of us and we find ourselves totally "encapsulated" in what we thought was just going to be a little "exploration" of that temptation. In short order, we find ourselves fully engulfed and maybe even with the door shutting behind, making us feel totally trapped. I can imagine the black bear didn't think about sitting in the comfort of the car all night instead of sleeping up in a tree limb as it usually did. It didn't imagine things would be different as it found a way "inside" what it had been only able to explore from the "outside" on previous occasions. All temptation has the potential to get us to explore more than what we originally thought we'd be able to explore - we just have to "get into it" and then we risk the "door shutting behind us" as we do!
Imagine being the black bear for a moment. You observe these humans day after day, getting inside these shiny objects parked right there in front of the house, then observing the movement of these objects somewhere out of view until magically they reappear at a later hour, only to see the humans freely exit those shiny objects and go about their merry way inside the security of their home. Now, you might begin to think you'd like to try out what is on the inside of that shiny object, and perhaps see if you could be transported somewhere exciting only to return a little later as though nothing out of the ordinary had taken place in your life. We kind of treat temptation this way at times - as though we can get into it and be transported away by it - then believe we will return totally unscathed after we are through exploring it. How's that been working for the rest of you? I know it hasn't worked well in my own experience!
I kind of felt like I imagined the black bear felt when it realized it was not "inside" what it didn't know how to escape because the "way in" didn't seem to have the same "way out". If that bear got in by a door it was able to open from the outside, it probably could have exited the same way - but the way out didn't work quite the same way as the way in. The outside door handle was easier to open than the inside one - it didn't look the same, nor did it behave the same. This is often the way it is with whatever tempts us "into" something - the way out doesn't quite look the same as the way in and this can confound us on occasion. As with the bear, what we do while we feel trapped by our temptation is often telling about how the temptation has affected us. As the game wardens opened the hatch of that car to allow the bear "safe passage" from what had entrapped him probably much of the night, the homeowners gazed in horror at the destruction "inside". From the outside, all appears as normal. When the door was opened, it was a totally different picture!
You see, when we feel "trapped" we often look for a way of escape. The bear did just that, pawing and clawing at every nook and cranny of the interior, pulling down headliner, tearing through upholstery, ripping up carpet, and turning over contents of stored things. In spite of all his efforts, he remained trapped. All the ways of escape he imagined just didn't pan out. It is like that for us, as well. We try to find our own way of escape, making a total mess of things, then becoming so totally frustrated with the mess we find ourselves in that we just make more mess. On the outside, things still look fine. On the inside, the whole world is topsy-turvy! Paul reminds us of a couple of important things: 1) temptation has a luring appeal and will be ever present in our lives; 2) there is a way of escape, even though we don't readily see it; and 3) God desires nothing more than to be both the one who delivers us from that temptation, but also diverts our attention away from what seems innocently appealing to us! Just sayin!