Saturday, March 17, 2007

Escaping Temptation

by Donna L. Watkins

What temptations are you challenged with? Too much shopping, television, food, anger at not being able to control others around you? I was trapped by chocolate. It seemed to rule my life. When I wanted to celebrate I thought chocolate. When I was miserable and needed comfort, I thought chocolate. When there was a holiday, it was all about chocolate. I grew up near Hershey, PA, and my dad had relatives working in the factory, so we had 25 pound melting blocks of chocolate in our refrigerator. We used an ice pick to chop off pieces and placed them in a bowl kept in the refrigerator for ready access.

I watched my mom eat chocolate until she was so sick from so much of it in her system. I learned well the pattern that you ate food for comfort. Why would I continue to eat anything beyond my mind and body screaming for my hand to stop feeding my mouth? I was compelled to finish "the whole thing." Looking back my life seemed to revolve around this addiction. I didn't see it then, but so much of my thinking was about chocolate. I struggled with this while single and when I married and changed to a natural food diet in the late 70's sugar was no longer on the approved list of household foods. That didn't take it off of my mind.

Funny I never noticed that eating for comfort brought any comfort to my mom .... nor myself, but for a fleeting moment. Those first few bites of delectable joy would turn into sickness and guilt at being so out of control. Self-control is at the basis of any life goal whether diet, finances, or relationships. It's a learned behavior and it provides grand and wonderful results in life. Self-control will allow you to reach the goals and dreams you have. If you want to be the picture of health, you'll need to control what you eat and consider the amount of exercise you get. If you have a financial goal, you will only attain it if you have self-discipline to save rather than spend. If you need instant gratification of surrounding yourself with many little things, you will never reach the goal of getting the big things.

If you win the lottery, it will not solve the problem if your pattern is to get what you want now. You will burn through those lottery bucks as fast as you do your own paycheck, because it's self-discipline that determines where you get to in finances or any other area of life.

God provides a way of escape for the temptations that steal your life away. He knew you would have them and when you got saved it was part of the package to have a way out. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray." Paul struggled with temptations, the new and old nature, and he chose to press toward the mark (the goal), forgetting what was behind and looking ahead. (Phillipians 3)

In I Corinthians 9:27 Paul said he beat his body and makes it his slave. We do not have to be carried away into debt, a search for acceptance in wrong places, or obesity. You can't watch much television, read newsprint and magazines, or spend time walking in malls and shopping centers if you want to listen to other voices than what the world is saying. The world around you is in financial chaos. Companies will try any way they can to keep you consuming. Most credit card debt is for purchases that are gone before the debt is even paid off.

You can live in the world, but not be of it. It's still a choice! God says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (I Corinthians 10:13) I think we make deals with the devil every day when we don't live true to ourselves. I struggled with chocolate for many years battling the thoughts for many months before I would allow myself to have "just one piece" and then fall into the addiction all over again. I tried to do it only on my own strength.

One day I humbled myself and told God that I couldn't do it. I needed His way of escape and made a deal with God. If He would take away my craving, I would always say "NO" to chocolate. I had just eaten some so I knew I would need some time to physically withdraw from the chocolate. I didn't expect to immediately not crave it. It was in my system, so I had to continue to take that way of escape and say 'no' until it was out of my system. As I remember it was about three weeks. After that I never had the craving for chocolate again. That was in November 1998. In January of the following year, our son "left the nest" and moved from Alabama to Oklahoma, and I was also dealing with menopause.

I kept my eyes on the Master, on my commitment. I didn't crave it and I didn't want it, but my mind could not believe either of those facts. It seemed as though I could have eat it and not be bothered by it, but I had a commitment and a deal made with God. It's been over 8 years and my mind still can't believe it. We earned a cruise trip last year and they had a chocolate night with everything chocolate, besides all the chocolate on the dessert tables every day. Nothing moved me. It's a settled issue. The devil can't take me there again. No more ups and downs with mood swings, no more battles in my mind for needing chocolate.

Police Dogs Tempted Dog trainers begin by throwing the dog a piece of meat. As time progresses the dog is trained to desire obeying the "master" more than his desire to eat. The trainer teaches him to keep his eyes on the "master" no matter what is put before him. This photo has traveled around the internet many times.

As you look at this long line of German Shepherds with a cat walking five feet in front of them, you will notice various levels of the obedience mentioned above. None of them have left the line to go after the cat. However, there is one just about dead center that is standing, the rest are still sitting. Some are looking at the cat, some are looking at the trainer. What a great example of the power within us to do right. Not right because of some law or rule, but to do what we really want to do in our heart. Let God's "escape" allow you to set your coarse for your goal and make it!

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