I was in a coffee shop and met a woman who I will call Kate. She is an addict and alcoholic. She has lived in abusive relationships. She has also made a lot of bad choices that fuel her problems. She claimed to be a Christian. I was able to share with her that if Christ truly lived in her, God will not let her be tempted beyond what she can bear, BUT with the temptation, in His faithfulness, He provides an escape. The moment the temptation becomes apparent, so does the escape. He does not leave us alone to fight these things (1 Cor. 10:13). This was hard for her to trust. She was about to go smoke a cigarette she claimed she didn't want to smoke because she wanted to quit. I promised her that if Christ was her Lord, there was an escape waiting for her.
Let me qualify that what is written below is written for believers in Christ. Those who label themselves as Christ-followers. It really makes no sense to nonbelievers.
Our family is made up of five people who struggle with temptations. Five people who struggle to rely on Christ. Five people who try to do it all on our own strength. It's the American way after all! But this is not Christ's way.
We have been experiencing progress with the twins. They are beginning to open up about their past and this gives us opportunities to address it. But opening up, even in the slightest, is the biggest leap forward of all. It is a signal that they are becoming more comfortable and trusting. It requires them to surrender their self-reliance. That is huge! Self-reliance is how they have managed to cope with life for the past seven years, so giving that up in any way is difficult for them.
We all struggle with self-reliance. When we are so focused on relying on ourselves, we are basically saying we don't trust Christ. We are trying to overcome our selfishness with selfishness. The fact is, Christ provides the escape. Unfortunately, we typically choose the temptation, not the escape. We choose selfishness over God's love.
Just like with our twins, it requires surrender and trust. It requires we surrender to God's love. Like the woman I met or like Adam & Eve in the Garden, our biggest struggle is to trust that what God has said is true. We begin to believe the whispers of serpents, "Is that really what God said?" Death comes through these whispers, not freedom.
Regardless of the flavor of our sin, we need Christ. Taking up the cross is a daily choice. Upon that cross we must nail our pride, anger, impatience, self-reliance, and selfishness each day. Only then do we begin to experience the healing.
I promised Kate that God had an escape for her, even from the next cigarette. In fact, she could give me her cigarettes and escape right then. She didn't take me up on the offer. I pray she saw the next escape God provided as she left that coffee shop. I pray we all see the escapes He provides and that we will take them.