Aha! Now I see it!

Catherine the Great - ever heard of this leader of Russia? She was renown in her time, bringing great increase to the Russian economy throughout her reign. She did much to increase the vast territory of Russia, even extending Russian development into the Alaskan territory. In her brief 67 years on this earth, she took over as Queen after the death of her husband and with increasing help from great generals, admirals, and armies she was able to make Russia the fastest growing country of the time. She is quoted as saying, "I am one of the people who love the why of things." In this respect, we are a lot alike, because I live to understand the why behind things. There are times it gets a little exasperating to not get at the "why" behind a matter - but I keep driving toward it until I can somehow get it fully revealed. She made another very keen observation I wanted to share with you this morning: "For to tempt and to be tempted are things very nearly allied - whenever feeling has anything to do in the matter, no sooner is it excited than we have already gone vastly farther than we are aware of."

But those who chase riches are constantly falling into temptation and snares. They are regularly caught by their own stupid and harmful desires, dragged down and pulled under into ruin and destruction. (I Timothy 6:9 VOICE)

One of the things I have often pursued the "why" behind is this pull of what serves as temptation to me (and others, for that matter). It is kind of an elusive thing at times - evading discovery because it is masked by all manner of pride, fear, and mistrust.  I think Catherine may have hit the nail on the head with her observation, though. You see, she indicates what most of us already somehow know, but fail to fully recognize in our "fight to resist" the ugly temptation in front of us.  It is simply the mistrust we have in our feelings - we rely upon them way too much!  When feeling has entered the picture, we find we go way further than we ever intended to go. Intention is the thing behind our will-power, but feeling is the enemy of our intention!

It is important to recognize temptation is not a "thing" that just happens somewhere along the way.  It exists all around us, but isn't really all that recognizable because it is there as a "trap" and as my pastor so eloquently put it last weekend, traps aren't meant to be seen!  They are called traps because you don't easily recognize them!  You wouldn't step into one if you knew it was going to fling you twenty feet into the air and leave you suspended like a ham in the smokehouse!  What causes us to not see the trap?  It isn't that we are incapable of recognizing the trap, it is that we aren't really looking for one!

The "why" behind temptation may very well be the mistrust we place in our emotions (feelings).  We allow them to carry us along, almost without any constraint or restraint.  Then in a moment in time, we are caught up in the trap, dangling there wondering how on earth we ended up where we are at the moment.  As Catherine so aptly pointed out, as soon as our feelings are "excited", we have been carried way further into the temptation than we might really be willing to acknowledge.  As so many have told me, they didn't see it coming!  Truth be told, we did "sense" it though - we "felt it" and we didn't know how to resist or constrain those feelings.

The why behind temptation may not always be a specific action, but rather a trust in a particular "feeling" or "emotion" more than we recognize.  We pay attention to the feeling more than we pay attention to our well-orchestrated plan to resist!  The sooner we understand the pitiful state of trusting in what we feel over trusting what we know to be true, the sooner we will begin to see the clever trap laid at our feet!  Just sayin!


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