Monday, March 9, 2015

A Way Out From Temptation

Twice this past week I've walked into my 2 1/2 year old's room after her "quiet time," only to find a sticky, greasy, smelly mess.  Thankfully it wasn't a poop mess.  We've had that mess before and I hope to never live that nightmare again.  On this particular occasion the two messes were accomplished with creams and lotions. 

The first mess was with Desitin.  Apparently her Elphie (stuffed elephant) needed "cream" on his bum.  And so did the walls, the bedspread, the dressers, even her clothes and hair.  The minute I opened the door and caught an overwhelming whiff of that smelly diaper cream, I knew there was trouble.  The second mess was with body lotion.  Same story. 

After the first mess I gave her a firm scolding.  Turns out my scolding wasn't as effective as I had presumed it to be (this happens more than I would like).  While the second mess was accomplished by a different "cream," it was in fact the exact same crime.  Hadn't she learned her lesson after the Desitin fiasco?

Turns out it was my lesson to learn.  It wasn't until after the 2nd mess and scolding that I realized I needed to remove ALL "creams" from her room during quiet/nap time.  I wanted to believe that she could resist the temptation and leave them alone.  But who was I kidding?  She's two.  She's immature.  Those scented creams that spread like butter were just so deliciously enticing.

So often the Lord uses these life experiences with my kids to teach me a spiritual lesson.  He's sneaky like that.  From this experience I was reminded that like those enticing scented creams, sin is even more deliciously enticing to the desires of my flesh.  Especially when my flesh is weak due to weariness, immaturity, or the daily trials of life.  

James 1:14 speaks to this:

"...but each one is temped when, by his own evil desires, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

When weariness has set in, my desire in motherhood is to lash out in anger and then escape to a place of self pleasure and satisfaction.  There are many times when, like James depicts, I feel that my desires literally drag me away from God's heart and entice me to sin.  And the truth is, it happens so quickly.  Are you currently being dragged away and enticed into sin because of fleshly desires?

The good news is that you and I have been promised by our gracious Father a WAY OUT!!!! 

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

God allows us to be tempted, though He never does the tempting (James 1:13), BUT in His faithfulness He always provides a way out.

In Allie's case, God used me to provide the way out.  I removed the object(s) of enticement.  As parents I firmly believe that while our children are young we act as God's faithful way out for them.  We set biblical boundaries for them so that they do not have to face certain enticements of the flesh.  Based on their spiritual maturity, we discern (through the Holy Spirit) what is and is not wise for them to see, hear and do.  As they age and grow in their relationship with the Lord, they begin to discern (through the Holy Spirit) these things on their own.

But, like you and I understand, this will always be a struggle  for them while they live here on earth because they are innately sinful.  Their flesh wants what it wants and they are in constant battle with it.  Like us, our children will never reach a level of spiritual maturity where they cannot be enticed to sin. 

So they must act wisely.  And my little trial with Allie reminded me that many times acting wisely is removing that which is enticing them (us) to sin.  We must pray that our kids have the spiritual discernment and wisdom to remove those objects of enticement in their lives.

I wrote earlier of my tendency to act out in anger toward my kids.  A few years ago, I hit a point where I was so incredibly disgusted (and embarrassed) with how easily I was dragged away and enticed to sin by exploding in angry outbursts against my kids.  I began to cry out to the Lord for help.  I wanted a way out from this temptation.  

He showed me two obstacles to remove:  physical weariness and procrastination.  My physical weariness was making my flesh easily prone to emotional outbursts.  My procrastination was causing me to set unrealistic expectations on my children.  I would put off things I had to do and then when I finally did them (last minute) I would freak on my kids because they weren't cooperating. 

So, I removed physical weariness by giving up late nights.  I do my best to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.  Appropriate rest for my body has been God's faithful way out for me.  I removed procrastination by doing my best to keep a steady consistent schedule for my to-do's.  When I stick to my schedule, my angry outbursts are few and far between.  But when I procrastinate and get lazy, I'll admit that I explode.

Friends, the truth is that my flesh still desires to stay up late and have lazier days.  But my deeper desire is to please God and reflect His love to my kids.  So with His help, I try to take God's way out and remove those obstacles that drag me away and entice me to sin. 

If you are still reading this then I presume you feel the same way I do.  Your desire is to please God and reflect Him to your kids. 

So together, let's pray that God gives us discernment to know what obstacles we need to remove from our lives that tend to drag us away and entice us to sin.  

And let's also pray that God will give us wisdom on what obstacles we need to remove or keep away from our kids' lives. 

And finally, let's pray that our kids learn to listen to the Spirit's guiding by removing obstacles that will entice them toward sin.

Join me in prayer.

Thank you that You have promised to faithfully provide a way out for me and for my kids when we face temptation.  Will you help me see the way out you are providing for me.  Please grant me discernment to know what obstacles might be enticing me toward sin.  

Will you also help me as I parent my children.  Give me discernment to set wise boundaries for them.  Show me what obstacles to remove from their lives that are dragging them away and enticing them toward sin.  

And  please help my kids.  As they seek You, grant them discernment and wisdom when facing temptation.  Grant them the courage to trust Your boundaries and the determination to remove those obstacles that deliciously entice.  Father, draw them to Yourself and keep them from evil.  Provide them a way out like You've so kindly promised!