Scars and Stripes

It’s been said, that if you think in words you should paint and if you think in pictures you should write. My head is a continual reel of film. On the day of Independence I sat there so very tempted. Having gone nowhere but my kitchen, yet in my mind’s eye all I see is green. I can feel the blades of grass beneath my legs where I’m sitting, the sun warming my skin. My insides are hot, blood close to a boil. Everything looks so good. I feel so awake and alert, like I’m expecting something but it’s just me, sitting there bare skinned in the grass with nothing in hand that could be used as weaponry. My eyes transfixed on the trees. Everything is so vibrant. I can’t tell what kinds of things are hanging from the branches but I don’t care, all I want to do is admire the hues. I’m happy that I’m in the garden. It isn’t until I feel a tightness around my neck that I realize why I’m scared to move.

That’s what temptation feels like for me, with certain sins anyway, like I’m being choked. It’s such a powerful pull that it becomes palpable. I wish I were exaggerating but I’m not. I wish I could say that I’ve gotten to know Jesus intimately enough, that all we do is walk together in the cool of the day and we often do, but that’s not always true. I still get pulled away. I still justify. I still hide. I still blame. I am still Eve.

I was feeling a slithering something that had not tried to choke me out in awhile. I wish I could say I didn’t even let the thought linger. I wish I could say I shot the vulture down with an arrow that I had locked and loaded. I wish I could say I stepped right up onto the high road and smirked over my shoulder before continuing forward but the truth is, I held onto that forbidden fruit long enough to start salivating over the possibility of taking a bite. I follow Christ, I know what I should do in the face of temptation. Ironically I help people toss away they’re forbidden fruit constantly. I sat there in my kitchen twirling thoughts of possibilities for the night’s festivities, it may as well have been a conversation between me and the serpent.

I know what my sin tendencies are, we all do really but we don’t always pay attention. Or we don’t call it for what it is. If you’re not sure what tempts you, what pulls you away from Christ, what are your guilty pleasures? That could be your answer. I know what mine are and I know how to handle them, I also know how to justify them. Wearing my serpent scarf, I began coming up with reasons I could and should partake in a particular situation, one that may or may not have concerned my soul and its destination. Sensing the seesaw already? It might be good for me to go I thought, it might be good for them, I could be good for them. I know how to be a good influence. I can be responsible, I told myself. Right here is where I could feel myself start to agree with the lie that is as old as time: “surely you will not die” right, I agreed, of course not. 

My reasons then began to turn into rights. Something like this would be a good bit of difference that I haven’t done in a long time, I told myself. I didn’t think too far past that last line though because I knew my soul would surface the reason I avoid the tree that I’m now circling. I’m just a good, good girl who needs a little company. Credit where credit is due, the devil is a clever dude. He makes lies into lyrics that we love to dance to. It’s a difficult thing to turn down something so sweet that’s right in front of you, there’s this sense of power, even if it’s false it’s still there and it feels amazing. Right here is where I’m happy that I have roots planted in the river of living water, because when all I want is a a drink from the Dead Sea, my head can barely remember it’s nothing but salty. 

My blood pressure rose. I was swinging that little hook on a string dangling from my finger, hoping I’d get hooked even though I knew it would hurt. It was my decision, my choice. Was I going to take the bait? In that moment I realized freedom isn’t free and I was going to have to fight for it. I knew I would not win this battle on my own because I didn’t want to, I wanted to give in, just for one night. In my head I was standing on the deadline and I was going to need some assistance to step over over to the right side. There’s always a way out. That’s a promise. God does not break promises. 

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

I asked for the wisdom I knew I needed, in so many words begging please help me fight off this temptation that appeals to me greatly, help me get back to liberty. The enemy knew I was on the dividing line and he had his own plan devised. The wisdom I asked for was not answered but I am stubborn so it does take more than one person to get through to me. Taking this temptation would be so easy I thought, plus I kind of deserve it. I enlisted back up before I could be further seduced, requesting prayer from someone I did not have to explain my situation or my sins to. It never hurts to have a trusted few. I was quickly met with the advice I would have given myself. I was thankful and relieved but prayer from another wasn’t all I would need. I had to look at my Savior so I could peel my stare away from sin. Again, I felt the desire gripping my throat. I dug for Jesus and found Hebrews 12:11.

The dust began to settle and I had enough clarity to politely decline the offer. The hungry lion would continue lingering so I had to get a good distraction in place. I rehearsed the verse until I got my head on straight. Then I watched the same teaching twice. That day I was wearing two rings. The black is a representation of faith, the gold is one that stands for honor. I reminded myself to do more than adorn myself with things that are bright and pretty. 

Integrity must run deep otherwise, it is just hypocrisy.

That day in that moment I’m proud to say I chose to be free, I fought for liberty but honestly, doing it for me was not enough convincing to do the right thing, so why did I? Truthfully, I did it for my kids. The ones that are no more than a thought right now. When they ask me how to deal with being tempted or they ask, why even bother taking the way out? I’ll have an answer, I’ll tell them a story like this.

When it comes to life and liberty it cannot be found apart from being a slave to Christ. Being strong is admitting you’re weak and watching the Lord take over. Strength is feeling the singe of sin press your skin and refusing to let it burn deep, not because you mind the heat, but because the fire that is within you will always burn brighter than whatever blaze comes at you. This is what ticks the devil off, this is what true faith is, this is freedom and it comes with a price, a price that cost a perfect life so we don’t have to die. This is what it means to be a Souldier. If you want honor, you’re going to have to fight for it.

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