The Lord taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” ~ Matthew 6:13. It’s the oddest of requests really. Why in the world would God ever lead us INTO temptation? Do we really need to request that God not?
Yet, I have been feeling a bit tempted lately. For me this generally begins with a thought. When the thought occurs, I know it is temptation. It is not nice or not helpful to think it, but it doesn’t seem all that bad, really. As long as I don’t act on the thought.
Well, temptation is a slippery slope, and like most slopes, if you stop yourself before it gets too steep, you have a better chance of not falling. So, I had this other thought. What if, whenever I felt tempted, I just spoke the words to myself: “Lord, lead me not into temptation…”?
Worth a try, right? Well, the instant I adopted the practice, I was astounded at the frequency with which I put this to use. It’s a bit embarrassing. In just a few hours, I was tempted:
- to complain about the kids blocking the aisle
- to chastise the smokers in the parking lot
- to judge the outfit
- to find fault with the other patron
- to lose my patience
- to take advantage
- to blame
- to run ahead of God
- to seek validation and admiration
- to gossip
- to compare
- to rush to be done and submit less than my best
- to be selfish
- to dismiss another by talking over them
- to dodge my responsibility
- to neglect
- to steal by plagiarizing
- to worry
Wow! Think of the evil I was delivered from! Ha. And I thought I was doing pretty well. (see validation/admiration above) Guess this is gonna be a greatest hit on my prayer list.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
I’ve grown soft, Lord,
I’ve been indifferent, Lord,
I’ve become complacent, Lord,
I am forgetful, Lord,
I am fearful, Lord,
I am neglectful, Lord,
Guide me toward wonder, Lord,
Lead me toward newness, Lord,
Rekindle the heart you created, Lord,
All that I am is yours.
Lord, be mine for all time.
And I, yours.
I feel like a Mother Confessor. From my vantage point overlooking the trail of people sauntering up the hill to the the stop sign where Castlevine Court meets Richland Lane. They wave and, without prodding, offer their confession:
“This is my cool down; I ran four miles,” says the Mom who competed in the Tough Mudder this year.
“Hope you’re not watching how slow I make it up the hill,” says the husband who still toils at the work that inclines much travel even after he suffered through cancer treatment.
“Brought plenty of joggers with me this morning,” says the early morning solo runner. This weekend he has a houseful of guests in town for a family wedding.
Funny how the stories of these neighbors come clear in their greeting.
‘Am I enough?’ says the first.
‘I’m not what I used to be,’ says the next.
‘Oh, where is my serenity?’ says the last.
They greet me as a neighbor and a fellow runner. I, too, am no longer fast, no longer young, and still inclined toward solo running. From my vantage point as friend and fellow fitness compatriot, I see more and hear more than I am meant to, perhaps. There is a sharing beyond sharing. And a fellowship, unspoken.
Does God see me like I see them? Is He poised at the intersection of steep climb and level ground? Will I indict myself when I see Him looking on? Will I suppose that He is not satisfied with my distance or my pace or my selfishness?
Or will I remember this day when I saw my neighbors and was delighted just to have them wave and greet me? Amazing how we indict ourselves.