Thursday – February 13, 2014

James 1:12-16

12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved.

Our world is filled with temptations…sometimes they are easy to see, and at other times they are more difficult to discern, as they can come in the guise of something good and welcome, they may even seem to make sense when first presented to us…as they can come as something that is for us easy to justify having or doing, and we can tell ourselves “I deserve this!”  When Jesus was tempted in the desert Satan came to him not as a frightening demon out of Dante’s Inferno, but as a friend who offered him compassion and who tried to convince Jesus that he did not have to be starving and suffering in the wilderness, nor did he deserve his ultimate fate, the crucifixion that had already cast it’s shadow over his life. 

This is the way that temptation often comes to us, and to our children: as reasonable, deserved and justified!  Like with Jesus, temptation can come with a friendly face, and it is only once we give in to it that the true colors come out, and we realize that we have made a mistake.  As a person in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, I understand how attractive some temptations can be…even when I know the damage that giving in to them can do to me.  Over time, I have gained tools to help me to avoid falling prey to these temptations, but it took a long time to learn these lessons, and I have paid a high price for them as they were earned through years of hard experience and a lot of pain. 

As single parents we can feel uniquely responsible for how our children grow up and the choices that they make, and when they fall prey to temptations that seem so obviously bad to us it can be painful, and frustrating! When this happens it is important to remember that they don’t have the experience that we have earned through making many mistakes; remembering this can also help us to be more understanding of their mistakes, and more willing to offer forgiveness and support to them.

Being understanding though does not mean that we simply just give up and stop trying to help our kids.  We have the experience they do not, and although it may not always seem welcome, they do listen to us, and our advice can help more than we realize.  When I was a young adult my parents warned me about many of the choices I was making in my life, and I disregarded their advice…but not entirely…as what they said stayed with me and eventually spurred me to make changes that saved my life.  Even before I got sober, their words came back to me time and time again, and stopped me from getting into serious trouble (although I probably deserved it).

Yet it can feel like an up-hill battle at times, especially when the temptations are so numerous, and often come wrapped in an attractive package…like their ‘friends’ or someone they believe they are in love with.  The teen and early adult years are a time when “…because everyone is doing it” actually seems a good enough reason to go down a destructive path in life; it is a time when giving into temptation can be justified as just having a good time.  As parents, we have a lot of competition for our children, and at times we can lose hope that they will ever learn a better way; this can be frustrating, as we find ourselves saying “If only they’d listen!”  It would be great if they could learn from our mistakes, and avoid the same pitfalls, and while sometimes they do…there are some things they simply need to learn for themselves.

However, there is hope: that we have done a better job of teaching our kids than we realized, that our experience, strength, hope, faith and love have had a stronger influence on them than we ever knew.  Our hope is in knowing that as parents, we do the best we can, and then turn the results over to God, knowing that like us, our children are surrounded by God’s love and Grace, as we all walk in the light of Christ.

With faith in God, we can get through these times of frustration and worry for our children.  There is hope in knowing that with God’s presence in their lives our kids can survive the temptations they face, even those they accept readily, as it is Christ who walks with them, shining the light of God’s love even into the dark places they sometimes wander.  With this love in their lives our children can learn how to avoid the temptations that threaten to de-rail their lives. 

While the lessons we all learn can be difficult, and unpleasant, we also know that the best lessons are learned this way, just as a child learns not to touch a hot stove after getting burned once or twice.  Armed with our love and advice and surrounded by God’s Grace our children will endure through all the temptations of life, and they will thrive so that one day they can pass one their own wisdom to others, such as their own children.

Let us Pray:Our

Heavenly Father, lead us not into temptation today, and protect us from the weakness we all have in our hearts from time to time.  Please keep our children safe from their own temptations, and help them to endure.  Give us strength to give them the love, wisdom and support that they need to make their own way through life, and help us not to lose hope when our advice seems to fall upon deaf ears.  Thank you for always walking with us and our children through life, and please help us all to find peace in knowing that we all walk in the light of your Grace, and that this light is strong enough to keep us from falling to temptations that could ruin us.

Amen

 

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