Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Temptation's Tattoo

I am exhausted.

Not tired, because tired is just the junior varsity version of exhaustion. My bone-weariness has gotten to that point where my eyes burn whether or not I have one, two or three cups of coffee.

As of right now, I am on my second cup and it is two in the afternoon. Don't judge- I'm tempted to grab the energy drink that's been in the back of the fridge for month if this cup doesn't cut it.

But who isn't tired in this country right? We work ourselves to death, vacation less than another other nation, and yet are still on the hamster wheel.

To exemplify this, I should be lying down on the couch since both of my kids are napping, but I have this frenetic energy that has to be put to good use (Hmm... this could have something to do with the caffeine). Regardless, in this moment of quiet I realize that I have some maturing to do. This is especially evident, when all I really want to do is ball up my fists, climb back into my pajamas, and whine about the constant inconveniences I face as a mom.

Instead, I am going to force myself to contemplate what temptation truly is. Because lately I have been tempted to check out. I want to throw my hands in the air and say, OK- I've given about all I can. This girl is tapped out.

But that's just the tired talking. That's not my heart. 

I texted a friend the other day and apologized for being out of it. "I'm so sleep deprived today, sorry." And she wisely responded, "I think we will be forever!!!"

Welcome to motherhood.

And even though I am one of those people that doesn't do well without sleep-- as a kid I put myself to bed and was always sneaking off at sleepovers to crawl into my sleeping bag, it doesn't give me reason to be weak.

Blessed with two healthy kids, an amazing husband who laughs, fights, and clings to me when I need it most, and a God who lived on this earth in the most humble of ways so that I could live-- (even when I am the furthest from humble myself) is enough to keep me going. His grace is sufficient.

I read in Matthew today about the temptation of Jesus. (Matthew 4: 1-11).

What I found most interesting about the section of scripture in Mathew is the way that Satan tempted Jesus. Jesus was ravenous from his 40-day fast and Satan came to him and tempted him to make stones into bread. And the Son of God answered, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." 

Stones into bread, huh? One of the most crafty of evil beings came up with nothing more than bread to tempt the Son of God. Maybe he thought if an apple worked with Eve he should go for two.

Why wasn't Satan's front line attempt at getting Jesus to sin a bit more glitzy? He didn't lead Jesus to a banquet table loaded with Pinterest worthy foods, award-winning wines and rich desserts-- he didn't dress up the sin in Jesus' moment of weakness. Why?

First of all, aside from the fact that Jesus would have seen right through his attempts to make him stumble- (he is God after all), maybe Satan didn't go to all that trouble- because he knew Jesus was in a weakened state. Maybe Satan knew he didn't have to.

Jesus was starving. He was empty. He was exhausted.

And sometimes in our moments of deepest exhaustion- even the least tantalizing temptations, like stone-flavored bread is something we can easily imagine into Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. If you like that sort of thing.

When we are tired, even the most obvious of sins become enticing. The sins that we would have snuffed our noses at before somehow become glittering monuments that can solve all our problems.

I wrote a song a few years ago and in it is one of my favorite lyrics.

You light my cigarette,
Because I know better than you do. 
I've got scars all across this heart. 
I call temptation's tattoo.

OK, so no. I don't smoke cigarettes- but this is a country song so there you go.

But the reality of this lyric for me is that some days I can feel the stitches on my heart beginning to pull apart. Its in those moments that I realize some of the scars I've developed over the years are not fully healed- and at any given moment I can give way to old sin. I am getting better now at recognizing the stones that Satan is tempting me to turn into bread and that is where the separation between failing and being lured to fail, divide.

For instance, when I feel haggard and fluffy from two pregnancies- I know I shouldn't read magazines that advertise the best beach bodies in Hollywood. When one of our cars breaks down again and I wonder if I will ever be one of those luxury car moms, I shouldn't start 'googling' safest luxury cars to leave up on my computer 'on accident'. When there are medical bills to pay, I shouldn't hound my husband for a pair of new shoes or a fancy haircut at a downtown salon. These are all stones. Stones that can easily drown me.

Being tempted isn't a sin apparently. That's what God says anyway:

Hebrews 4:15  "Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!" 

Jesus may not have been tempted to buy a pair of Gucci sandals-- but he understood the base of it all. The desire for more than we have. The temptation to believe that something outside can fix what's broken within. He knew that the temptation led nowhere. The bread was just stones in disguise.

Notice that Satan didn't turn the stones into bread himself and wave the wafting fresh-out-of-the-oven goodness under Jesus' nose. He simply gave him the idea to change something that is into something that could be.

Today, and everyday, when I am feeling exhausted-- I pray that God gives me (and you) the wherewithal to leave the stones in the dirt where they belong and to reach for the Bread of Life. 

In love,

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