I was hot and flustered- and it has to be said not a little angry. I'd been working all day to ensure an appropriate welcome for my guests; Jesus and his disciples- they'd arrived earlier than I'd expected, and as usual a crowd had gathered to hear Jesus, to ask him questions! To be honest I would have preferred to have just a couple more hours to prepare the meal, and to tidy the room to make sure everything was ready. If I'd been able to do that without constantly tripping over people; fighting for room in my own home, then I too might have had time to sit and to listen like Mary. Mary, my dear younger sister, sitting serenely at Jesus feet, oblivious to my workload- just sitting and listening, a slight smile on her face, totally absorbed in what Jesus was saying. "Selfish and thoughtless" I muttered to myself " leaving me to do all of the work alone"..."selfish and thoughtless"... I tried to make it to the front door again, to collect some herbs from my small garden, they were always better fresh picked, the flavour so much richer- and this was a special meal, for special guests. As I made my way out I tripped over someones foot- I don't even know whose it was, there were so many people crowding into the small space.... It was then that I lost my temper completely, surely someone had noticed my busyness, surely someone would be grateful for the time I had spent cooking and cleaning. I pulled myself up to my full height, placed my hands on my hips and rounded on Jesus.....
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) “No temptation has overtaken you but such as common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but with temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”
No temptation is easy to resist – otherwise it wouldn’t be real temptation, would it? If you are troubled by a certain temptation and are having problems avoiding it, here is a simple story that may be of great help to you.
There were two dogs. The dogs were exactly alike, except one was black and the other white. Both dogs were equally strong and fierce.
One day the dogs got into a horrible fight. (and no – Michael Vick wasn’t there)They struggled and fought. They bit and tore. But because they were exactly alike, neither seemed able to finish the other off.
Two men came along. One said, “Which dog will win? It’s impossible to know.”
The other said, “I know which one will win. I can make either dog win if I so choose.”
How could he do it?
The answer is simple. Whichever dog the man chose to feed would eventually win. While that dog would grow strong with nourishment, the other would become weak with hunger. The same idea applies to your struggle with temptation. If you feed the temptation – by hanging around the wrong people, for example – the temptation will be too strong to resist. You’ll win the battle if you feed the “good” dog.
Practicing the Spiritual disciplines. Pray. Get into God’s Word. Have fellowship with other believers. Those are some of the keys God has given you to help endure temptation.
As children we devoured the leftover Communion bread and grape juice at The back of the church while the adults Worked, sweeping the floor, putting away The folding chairs. Counting the offering In groups of two or three, so as not to be Too tempted by the loose bills and change.
We are not children any longer. Indeed, we Don’t even live in the same city. But just the Other day I picked up a bottle of grape juice, And a fresh loaf of bread and, with a whisper Of gratitude on my lips, devoured it. It’s been Many years since I’ve known the back rooms Of a church with the intimacy of childhood. I Can no longer claim to know every nook and Cranny of any church building – even the ones I once knew have, no doubt, shifted with time.
But this much I do know as I tear into the bread, Dipping it into the juice before I eat: certain things, Certain tastes or sounds or textures can be firmly Rooted in the thin places in the world, those placed In which the spirit world is just that much closer.
I'm not quite satisfied with this poem yet...I may post a revision of it later on.