Temptation is before me. It is strong. I am hearing that wretched little voice taunting me, telling me that it would make me feel better. I almost smile thinking of what it would be like in that moment. I am on the verge of jumping, falling into the pit on iniquity.
I am away for a couple of days on retreat. I am alone with my bible, my God, my laptop and the various wild animals about. I am in my magical place, my dad’s home in the sierra foothills outside of Yosemite. It is my place of renewal. I always hear from God here. I rest here. I take care of myself here.
It is so peaceful looking out the window at the trees, the deer that stop to nibble on fallen acorns and the oversized squirrel digging up its hidden treasures in the dirt-filled flower pots on the back deck. I remember my dad here and almost see his face, hear his voice.
It is my special place removed from the daily realities of life and stress. There is no dog here to be fed or wake me up in the middle of the night to go out. There is no child here to be dressed, fed, lunch made followed by the mad dash to school, the pick up after school, the homework, and the nighttime rituals. There is no husband here. He is home taking care of those things that are not here.
My euphoria is disrupted this morning by a phone call. It is daughter calling on her way to school to tell me she misses me and loves me. It is husband sounding rushed to get to the classroom before the door closes and a promise of a call on his way back home. I can hear the strain in his voice.
The phone rings again and I almost don’t answer, but I do. He tells me of the goings on and his stress in all he needs to get done and the weight upon his shoulders. I get tense listening. I start thinking, what do I need to do to fix it? My joy ceases as I ask the question, “Do you want me to come home?” I wait with baited breath for the answer I want to hear… “No.” We hang up amidst the heavy air of tension.
Then it starts. Temptation is before me. I am mad at the disruption. I start whining, why can’t I just have a couple of days of peace? Then I start feeling guilty for being here and everything I am not doing at home.
The thoughts begin… I’ll leave this morning instead of tomorrow. It will get me home in time for my conference call and then I will pick up Hannah from school. I’ll take care of everything. I will abruptly end my time here, sacrificing my place of tranquility, enter into chaos and fix it. Then he will feel bad for ruining my retreat. That will show him.
Then God whispers the name of my temptation, martyrdom. There is nothing noble in the rescue when the purpose is guilt. Genuine sacrifice for others is beautiful. Martyrdom is ugly. It is brutal. It is that very special generational sin that has forged its way down through my family.
I remember my dad grandstanding with absurd threats of martyrdom. I also remember telling him at one particularly tense moment that “Technically you can’t be a martyr if you are not dead!” The sting of that memory came flooding over me. I looked up the definition again. They have added severe suffering so it is not just death anymore. It doesn’t matter because I don’t qualify and would not want to either way.
Then God whispers again, don’t give in to the lie of temptation. Stay in My truth. You are dead to sin. Leave the rescuing to Me. Let go of the guilt and anger. Your husband was sharing his heart, not trying to ruin your day. Return to your joy in Me. Stay grounded here with Me.
Scripture comes flooding to my mind.
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11
“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 you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Today, I am overwhelmed and thankful for my faithful God who always fulfills His promises. Today, I choose God’s truth and I stand on His word.