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Saturday, November 19, 2016

A way of escape

I believe it was Oscar Wilde who once quipped, "I can resist everything except temptation." Although he may have said it a little "off the cuff", I think he had a pretty good handle on the human condition. We all struggle just a little bit more than we may want to admit with this idea of "resisting" - we tend to resist the stuff we should be embracing eagerly, all the while embracing what it is we are supposed to be resisting! Scripture reminds us that there is absolutely no temptation that is not "common" among mankind - it has been faced by someone else, so you cannot ever claim to be unique in whatever it is that is causing you to be a little tempted in your life. 

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 VOICE)

It is important for us to remember that God doesn't "remove" temptation totally from our lives by placing us in some sort of "bubble" that cannot be penetrated. Temptation exists because we live in a world where man has choice - as long as there is choice, the desires within us are capable of devising all manner of evil given the chance and the right circumstances. What we can count on from God's perspective is his guidance to navigate through temptation (or should I say "around" or "past" it). He doesn't allow more than we can handle in the grace he has given us - we can be tempted right up to whatever that measure is, and not any more than that.

There is always a way of escape - we may choose not to see it, or take it, but it exists nonetheless. When we "face" temptation, we almost assuredly felt drawn to it because we are "facing it". The most amazing thing is that when we turn to face God instead of the temptation, it is no longer as strong! What we focus on determines the course of our action. What Wilde didn't probably understand what this power of focus - the way to resist is not to "face" the temptation, but to turn away from it! Perhaps this is why we are told to "flee" sin and Satan's activity in our lives.

"Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don't. You are in good company... You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope." (John Piper)  Temptation comes in many forms, but one of the most powerful can be this desire to just give up - to throw in the towel, to admit defeat, to say we "cannot" win. As Piper indicated, God has a way out, we just may not see the ladder, rope, or tunnel he has been constructing for our escape. We won't see it until we turn fully to his face and recognize his presence with us as we face the pit of temptation. Remember this - you are NEVER alone in the pit. God is ALWAYS with you and he is ALWAYS your way of escape. Just sayin!