I am so very proud of my daughters. This week, they have been going through one of these “health cleanse” processes trying to remove the bad stuff from their systems and replace it with the good stuff. I am sorry, health gurus, but that is the only way that I know how to explain it. Feel free to comment on this post and give me all the insight that I need for the next time that I go through a health cleanse which should be in about 2047. What I am most proud of is that this morning, Jennifer’s Facebook post mentioned the importance of adding a spiritual component to the process, and in doing so, asking for God’s assistance in removing the cravings and moving the process forward. Well done, Jennifer, well done!
Those of you who know me have recognized that if I am not careful, I can gain weight very quickly, so I try to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Of course, being a pastor, my schedule often fights against any type of routine, so I am often on my knees asking for God’s help. And I will tell you that many times He has heard my prayers and responded by doing just what I need. By the way, I often feel guilty because my prayers sometimes devolve into something like this: “Dear God, please take this piece of delicious chocolate cake that I’m eating and turn it into a nutritious, healthy meal.” Don’t shake your head at me; you have probably done something very similar. Needless to say, there is no transubstantiation, the cake remains cake, and the calories pile up.
So what I have learned is to pray more like this: “God, help me to avoid the chocolate cake today, and if I encounter it, give me the strength to resist the temptation.” And as long as I let Him, He will give me the strength to do just that. But it is a constant battle – as is the entire Christian life. I often use this illustration in my sermons: “If sin were liver, I’d be perfect. But sin isn’t liver; it’s chocolate cake.” And that chocolate cake (read as temptation) is everywhere. You see, the Enemy isn’t omniscient like God, but I believe that he is a keen observer. He and his hordes have watched us long enough to know what it is that pushes our buttons, and they will do whatever it takes to make sure the button-pushers are out there. Remember, he is a “roaring lion, roaming to and fro, seeking whom he may devour.” That’s why we must constantly pray for these two things: “help me to avoid” and “give me strength.” Since God has promised that He will do that, I can guarantee you that your prayers will be answered – but only if we let God work.
Let me try to explain that. I have never met a piece of chocolate cake that ran up to me, grabbed me by the shirt collar, pried my mouth open, and jumped in. Not once. And if anyone is a candidate for that to happen, it would be me. Typically, I find the chocolate cake sitting on a cake plate – and yes, there is usually a knife, fork, and plate right there waiting for me to cut me a piece or take a bite. When that happens, I have two choices. I can eat the cake, or I can walk away — the Bible even says we should run. The longer I hesitate, the more difficult it is to run. And if I end up hanging around the cake, I am eventually going to eat the cake unless God gives me the supernatural ability to resist. Guess what! He will even do that if we really want Him to.
I don’t know what your chocolate cake might be. There are things that tempt you that do not tempt me and vice versa. Whatever it is, the enemy knows it, and it is your responsibility to be aware of the temptation, avoid the temptation if possible, flee the temptation when necessary, and always to resist the temptation with the supernatural grace of God. I don’t know about you, but I think I need to go work out or something!