Temptation doesn't always have to come in the form of enticement, like chocolate or sex. Temptation can come in the form of fear or worry. The temptation associated with fear and worry is to believe the worst possible scenario is the one that will happen, and the worrier can either do whatever is possible to avoid that scenario or just cave and actually play a part in self fulfilling prophecy. One is rooted in works and control, the other manifests itself in pluralization.
The Biblical response to fear, is courage, but not courage rooted in personal strength, but courage rooted in surrender. I know, it doesn't make sense, but its the way it works. Its surrendering to God those things that your are fearful and anxious about to God, and walking forward in the courage that God is in control. Its not avoidance. Avoidance is simply saying I'm going to act as if it doesn't exist when it does. Surrender is accepting the reality that it exists but not allowing it to master you.
This is where we see Paul in 2 Corinthians talk about his thorn, and experiencing God's strength in the midst of weakness. Paul asks, pleads, that it be removed, but God says " my grace is sufficient, my power is perfected in weakness."
Today I was blessed by an encounter with a brother in the Lord who appears to be living a parallel life to mine. He's moving forward, trying something new in the worst possible climate to be doing it. Both of us feel like we are living day to day by faith, supported by family, friends, and the Lord. Both of us feel like there are tremendous stakes involved, and there are, and at the same time, both of us feel like no matter what happens we will survive because of God's grace. Neither of us communicated feeling like God was silent or absent. Just the opposite. We have been encouraged by God's presence through scripture and prayer.
What does strength and courage look like again? Its not the absence of fear. Its not the denial of temptation? Its surrendering to God's power in the midst of our weaknesses, our temptations, and our fears, and crying out "Help" because we have no other place to go.
Our life is laid before you. You see it all clearly. You are not surprised by our circumstances. You are not afraid of our fears. You enter into them. You enter into our life through your Holy Spirit. You enter into our life through your word. You enter into our life through the community of fellow followers trying to take the next step of faith when everything else is telling you step in another direction. Help us this day to step into you. Help us to lean into the wave of your grace and love. Help us not to be consumed with our fears, but to be consumed by your grace. Help us to be present for family and friends who need us to be the living Christ.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Posted by George Atkins at 3:39 PM