I hope you all had a great weekend! It is hard to believe we are so far into the New Year! How are your resolutions going?
Today we will conclude our study of the Lord’s Prayer. The final verse, Matthew 6:13 says: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Obviously none of us desires to fall into temptation. Praying against temptation is a smart practice. Also, setting up personal “guard rails” is wise. “Guard rails” are events or things which alert you to the fact your are dangerously close to going over the edge into sin. (A simple example might be, for someone tempted by alcohol, do not keep it at home, do not drive past the store where you can purchase it, if the desire is stronger when you are tired, make certain to plan for adequate rest, etc).
Interesting that the next phrase is “but deliver us from the evil one”. We can all agree the evil one is Satan, who is constantly trying to tempt us into sin, to separate us from God.
Many people who have been Christians for a while find ways to keep temptation at bay, at least most of the time. What struck me this weekend, is how to handle temptation when the unexpected happens.
This more I received some sad news. A friend and Christian sister died last night. She had several young children who need mom. She had a husband who needs his wife. I prayed for over two years for God to heal her.
As I thought about temptation today, I thought how easily I could be tempted to conclude God did not hear me, or could not heal. I know none of that is true. I know that I simply can not see the entire picture. If, in His wisdom, He chose to bring my friend home to him, where she is no longer suffering, then I need to trust Him. But, oh, my heart aches for her family.
I truly believe God has each of us in the palm of his hand, and He would not allow anything to happen to us which necessitates pain unless He will bring good from it. (Romans 8:28)
I do not believe He authors our trials, but rather either agrees to them and /or limits them so that He can work good in all our lives. (Job 1:6-12)
He also promises to not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. And, when we are tempted He promises to provide a way out! (I Corinthians 10:13)
How easy for me, for all of us, when trials come, to imagine God does not see, does not care. How easy for us to believe we do not matter to Him.
How easy for Satan to feed us those lies- and how terrible for us when we chose, in our pain, in our exhaustion, to believe them.
The guard rails I have set up for the unexpected: first, recognize that I need some quiet time alone with God. In order to “hear His voice”, and feel His peace in the midst of chaos, I need to be alone with Him. Second, I try to refrain from making any judgements, voicing anything negative, such as thoughts and feelings, until I can get that time with Him. My girls, and several others close to me, are always watching how I respond to everyday life: I try to be the best example I can, while I humbly acknowledge how human I am! And last, when I am tired, emotional, and just mentally spent, I put it on hold, until I can recharge. I have learned with myself, nothing good, nothing which glorifies God seems to come from my mental ramblings in exhaustion.
The reflection I would like to ask you tonight: in the midst of your personal trials, do you choose to see God is holding you, even when you can not see where you are going? Or, as most of us have at one point or another, do you choose to let your present feelings dictate the lens through which you view God at that moment: dark, distant, dreary?
What “guard rails” could you erect for yourself, so when challenges come, you are better prepared?
Please return Tuesday morning, Lord willing, for the next post.