Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Do you remember when the future held nothing but promise? The uncharted lands over the horizon were as tantalizing as the prospect of finding a new continent. Somewhere up ahead, an exciting career, a luxurious automobile and a beautiful wife were just waiting to be discovered. It all seemed perfectly sensible. Sure, intertwined with the advances in income, the warehouse of personal goods and the wife who - amazingly -- got lovelier with age would be an occasional setback. I mean you weren't totally unrealistic, right?

Nowhere in your playbook of the future did long hours at work, unreasonable bosses, unsatisfying honey-do jobs and costly car maintenance, endless kid issues, rising interest rates and falling property values, a tanking economy and the daily aching of your body come into play.

Nevertheless, even with these disappointments, you know you're lucky. You still have the beautiful girl you married, and she's hung with you -- through it all. You remember it well. The day she walked down the aisle to be your "lawful wedded wife," she was a vision of loveliness: one that quickened your pulse and put a smile on your face. What a day it was the day you married! Your new lives were underway.

But time has a way of changing things, doesn't it? Perceptions shift. Unshakeable resolves come into question. Commitments seem negotiable. The melancholy of discarded dreams, the disillusionment of family life and the financial millstones that want to drag us under all lay heavy on the heart.

It is in these times when temptations to do wrong -- to abandon what we know is right -- can make a convincing argument. Times of testing are faced by every man and they define what he is made of. For some temptation comes in the form of a bottle and the escape drunkenness brings. For some temptation comes in the form of "me time" -- a distraction that mutes the world of responsibilities. For some temptation arrives via the television or Internet, which offer an endless stream of fantasy images that preoccupy our minds and derail our devotion.

When we're weak, tired and worn out, temptations strike for the jugular. It's then when just about any suggestion, no matter how outlandish, seems somehow ... plausible. No man is immune from temptation, but every man is capable of resisting, especially with other guys at their side -- men who have fought the fight and can offer encouraging words of practical advice and hard-earned wisdom.

But even as valuable as our brothers' support and good sense is in our struggle with temptation, there is still a better way. And that's turning the temptation over to God and relying on the One who was tempted in every way as a man -- but never sinned.

His Name is Jesus, and in Him is the fullest life possible.

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