In Satan’s way-back machine or safe in Jesus’ arms…

Friday walking through the store I had no thoughts except to find the items we needed. But as we turned a corner entering the cooler section, beer, and for a moment I could not think of a good reason I should not add a 12 pack to my cart. Then my eyes fell upon a six-pack of ‘tall boy’ malt liquor I drank so often back in the day and I wanted to take it home. The thought was consuming, I wanted that beer. I walked past but the damage had been done.
Here I am, leading a recovery program and often testifying on how through Christ I am transformed but just like that I am tempted, my recovery and faith seem to be in jeopardy. All I could think was that I had failed.
The last few days have been a journey in the ‘way-back machine’. For some of you younger readers or for those who did not spend hours in front of the TV watching cartoons. The way-back machine was a time traveling devise invented by a dog scientist, Mr. Peabody, and his boy Sherman. Sherman, of course, is human and these two travel through time on adventures. Crazy, huh? Well maybe. But not as crazy as what Satan does when he seeks to transport us back to our past with temptations. If he is successful, there we are back reliving the things we dread the most and it is not pretty. That is what happened to me this weekend.
It seemed no matter my prayers or even crying out to God, the thoughts remained. I was a failure. I should not be standing in front of people telling them of my recovery and transformation. The accuser had the upper hand and was using it full force. But just when it seemed like I could take no more, I recalled one of the best promises that I have ever known, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Do you see it? It says that temptations can overtake us. A synonym for overtake is overwhelm. So, the promise is, that when temptations overwhelm us and we feel that we will be swept away. God is faithful. He will give us a way to survive the attack. He does not say that the attack won’t occur. But if we trust in Him we will not only survive but grow.
This sounds good. But how does it work practically. I am not sure how it works for everyone but for me help normally comes as I am reading the Word or a Christ-centered devotional. Yesterday while reading the book “Reflecting Christ” as part of my daily devotional, I read this, “No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self…. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.” (Reflecting Christ, RC 260.3, author Ellen White)
There was the prayer I needed. There is the thing I often forget. That it is not about me. It is about the one who already died to save me from myself. I can look in the mirror and see a weak unchristlike man. But if my prayer is “Mold me, fashion me….” Above all to, “…raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.” Then my job is simply to trust, to have faith that this is exactly what God will do.
I cannot say that I am totally there. As I write this morning Satan is still gnawing at the edges of my faith. He is still trying to convince me to give it up. But even as he is doing that, Jesus is hanging on to me with both hands. I know this because I asked Him to do just that. Tomorrow night, I will lead Celebrating Life in Recovery, humbled but assured that I can continue to share what Christ has done in my life. I am sober and joyful today and it is only through the grace of God that I am no longer in Satan’s way-back machine. I like it much better here in the arms of my Savior.
Blessings John