Why is it that whenever I have an experience with the Lord, in which I learn something new, or I am released of a burden, or I experience freedom in an area of my life…it seems the devil is right around the corner with a strategic snare to tempt me in that exact area? I mean, how fair is this! We have all been there…
We have a “mountain top” experience with the Lord – whether it be in our living room, at church on Sunday morning, at a camp retreat, or just driving in our car on the way to work. The Spirit speaks directly to our souls, and says the thing we need to hear the most. We learn a new Bibilical truth that releases freedom into our lives. We feel the overwhelming presence of the Lord as our burdens and guilt are released. We are convicted by the Lord of a wrongdoing, accompanied by a desire to serve the God who gave His Son for us. We experience the hand of God on our heart and mind, reminding us that we must surrender our control to Him, and inviting us to walk in freedom and to be still and know that HE is God, not us.
And we walk away from the experience with our head held high and our heart beating with new life…until…the temptation comes. And it seems to be specifically tailored to the new gem we just acquired from the Lord. Why is that?
I experience God and I am encouraged to accept the new and unexpected path He has for me – and right around the corner is a temptation to wish I was back where it was comfortable and where I could live according to my plan.
I am released at a church retreat of a burden of guilt and shame I have carried for countless years – and waiting for me right outside the church doors is a temptation to believe that my sin owns me and Christ’ blood cannot cover the ugliness of my past.
I spend a wonderful time with a mentor or godly friend and I am reminded by the Lord that I need to respect and honor and love my husband, even when it is hard (especially when it is hard!) – and right as I enter my home is a temptation to yell at and dishonor and degrade the man who I vowed to honor and cherish.
I witness the simple faith of my child as he prays and the Lord whispers to my soul to come to Him with that child-like faith – and right there is a temptation to control everything, add conditions to God’s love for me, and doubt the sovereignty and provision of the Lord.
Sometimes this doesn’t seem fair. And it makes us begin to question the legitimacy of our faith. “Was that experience with the Lord even real? Maybe God didn’t release me of this burden like I thought, if I am already tempted? Maybe the Lord’s touch in my life is not real. Does God care, or did He show up at all?”
I heard once this saying, “DON’T FORGET IN THE DARKNESS WHAT YOU LEARNED IN THE LIGHT.” I played soccer as a child, from when I was really young until I got into college. We would practice several times a week, all in preparation for the big Saturday game. The season would not have had much purpose if we never played actual games on Saturday. We could practice and practice and practice, but we were only building skills. Our skills did not gain their significance until we had the opportunity to put them into practice. What we learn is most significant when it is utilized. What good are tools sitting in a tool shed that are never used. What good is 100 hours of practice if you never enter “game time” to solidify those skills.
True life transformation does not begin and end at the “mountain top” experiences with Lord. Rather, it happens when we come down from the mountain, and we are tested in that area in which we were just strengthened by the Lord. For then, as we choose in that moment of temptation to remember what we just learned in the Light – and we chose not to revert to our old ways of bondage – that is when true life transformation takes place. And that is when the experience we had with God on the “mountain top” becomes not just an experience but a way of life.
The temptation is an opportunity for the lesson to become truth, for the experience to become real, for the freedom to become reality!
1 Corinthians 10:13
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.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.