She stopped by again today and gave me one of those looks. The beauty of her face set against the backdrop of the tumultuous sky promised me peace. It was soft and gentle. It was like she was telling me, “I know life is not perfect, and I can help.” There was a grace in the whole thing that spun my world with confusion.
The power she wielded over me was devastating. She continued to promise relief, but I have spent time with her on more than one occasion. She keeps telling me to trust her, that she can soothe the discontent I am feeling. I reminded her that every time previously, her relief has only been temporary and that she always leaves me more troubled than before. Her response to this has always been the same, “Just one more time, and you can send me away for good.”
Either I go with her and enter the vicious cycle once again, or I resist and find myself with an unquenched thirst that leaves me feeling worse than before she showed up. When I resist her, she plays upon my fears: as if somehow I am missing out or failing to take care of myself. Many times she has told me, “this is what life is about, and you are not living it to the fullest.”
She appears in different forms to everyone but always with an air of beauty. Usually, when I hear them talk about her, most people lay all the blame at her feet. In exasperation, they conclude, “If she were not always around, I wouldn’t have this problem,” or “If society didn’t endorse her so much, I would be safe.” The reality is, the problem with temptation is us, and even without her, our hearts naturally try to find fulfillment apart from our Creator. Our sinful desires are why we often go looking for her.
The only reason she has so much power over me is that deep down, I desire the treasures she offers whether she is present or not, and these are the desires that war against my soul. If this were not the case, I could easily send her on her way without a problem. John Owen once wrote, “Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before,” and he was working from a truth he had read in Scripture, which says, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).
I am always amazed at how much influence she has over me, or should I say, how much power I have given her. There is only one remedy, and that is to abide in Christ who offers the real fulfillment I am seeking: to look upon true beauty. My desires must change for her to lose power, and, through the Spirit’s work, that change has already begun. I know this because never before have I been so aware of the deceit behind her smile, but being aware and resisting are two different things. There is much more to say about her and even more to say about our great Deliverer, but she is here again, giving me that look.