Guarding Against Temptation
TEMPTATIONS pop up in many ways in all areas of our lives. Perhaps, for example, we're tempted to be just a bit dishonest if we think no one will know. Or, as I once found, we may drift into being tempted to look for fulfillment in immoral relationships.
I had been feeling lonely because my husband's work required him to travel extensively. A friend occasionally needed transportation, which I could conveniently provide. We enjoyed each other's company. But one day I realized that I'd been thinking about how easy it would be to drift into a romantic relationship with this man. This was a shock, because I knew I loved my husband. I had no desire to be involved in an immoral relationship, and yet there I was with temptation staring me in the face!
Is there a way to meet and conquer such temptations? Fortunately for me, there is, and I took it. It starts with the prayer Christ Jesus gave his followers, the prayer Christians call the Lord's Prayer. The Lord's Prayer, found in Matthew's Gospel, does vastly more than help us endure painful situations. It turns us trustingly to God, "our Father, who saves and heals us. It acknowledges the ever-presence of God, good, and reminds us of our unbreakable relationship to Him as His creation. This brief, simp le prayer is so filled with spiritual meaning that it never ceases to reveal God's willingness and ability to lead us unerringly. Each time we pray it, we find fresh inspiration, joy, and peace.
In that moment of intense temptation, I remembered the familiar line in the Lord's Prayer "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. I also remembered the conviction with which Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of that line in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says:
"And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth
us from sin, disease, and death."
I could see clearly that God, divine Love, does not lure His child into temptation or despair. Instead, as we turn to our creator, our Father, we learn more of man's genuine, spiritual purity, unselfishness, and dominion, which man--our true selfhood--expresses as God's child.
God does not sternly require us to obey His commandments while leaving us unfulfilled, unhappy, and dissatisfied. As I turned wholeheartedly in prayer to God, the temptation passed. What had seemed so compelling a moment before was no longer appealing. As time passed, I realized how many other temptations had disappeared at the same time. I no longer felt lonely, bored, or dissatisfied. And my days were filled with interesting and worthwhile activities.
No one is deprived of happiness by being obedient to God. On the contrary, as we progressively gain a greater desire to obey God and do right, we find that it becomes a great joy to follow God's guidance. Then obedience advances beyond duty to trust and true happiness.
Words alone do not heal. But when the Lord's Prayer is prayed with a genuine desire to understand the deep spirituality the words convey, our yearning to understand God's power and willingness to heal is answered. When we turn to "our Father, we can truly feel that we are His children, greatly loved, tenderly cared for, and powerfully protected.