Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. Mark 14:38a NIV
My dad was 58 when we got the phone call that a waitress in a restaurant found him in their parking lot slumped over his steering wheel. The memory of the next week is a blur, but it ended with 4 bypasses and a thankful family.
God showed up in so many ways, from an alert waitress, to the best doctors, to the additional years of life. My dad was a walking miracle! He was sent home with a new diet and rules to help him better understand how to care for his body, God’s temple. This was foreign to a man who spent a lifetime eating in diners across the country as he traveled for work, but he tried. Slowly salt and fried foods made their way back into his daily routine.This good Christian man battled his own set of patterns that had been established over decades. Seventeen years later, the heart attack didn’t kill him, his habits did.
It is so easy to see the weakness, pitfalls and struggles in others, yet hard to recognize dangerous patterns in our own lives. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” Jesus told his disciples. Satan relied on the basic cravings of man to tempt Jesus, food, fame, and power. He hasn’t changed his tactics. He makes harmful look healthy, painful seem popular, and weakness appear strong.
In Romans 12:2 Paul says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (how?) by the renewing of your mind. THEN you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We all struggle. Jesus knew we would. Your temptation may look totally different than mine or my dad’s but you have them. And just like Jesus, Satan will go after us when we are in those weak places of being tired, hungry, hurt, lonely, or feeling unloved. He might say, “You deserve it.” “Who would know?” “Just this once.” And once we cave into temptation, guilt and shame tag along behind. Then we don’t feel worthy to pick up our Bible, pray or be around godly people. The lure of the old habits begin to tug, as if they are the answer to your emptiness.
I have GREAT NEWS! There is a way out of this cycle. Create new patterns!
The old habits are embedded into our brain. Science tells us that when we repeat things it actually impresses a pattern into our brain and the more we do it, say it, act on it, the deeper the groove. Isn’t that fascinating to know that the Bible was telling us not to conform to the patterns of the world because He created our brains to make patterns! Before science discovered it, God was teaching it! Whatever you do over and over will create a pattern, an impression, a mini road map in your mind. It’s time to change our GPS! Recalculating…..
Jesus says, “Watch and Pray.” He’s reminding us to be on the lookout for the slimy Satan schemes before they arrive! Know your triggers. Are you most susceptible when you’re hungry? Then don’t work through lunch. Are you weakest when you stay on the computer? Then set a timer. Are you tempted when you’re around certain people or places? Then don’t go there.
As a matter of fact, let’s do something crazy tangible. Make a To-Don’t-List. What things should you STOP doing today?
And before our feet hit the floor each day pray, “Lord, help me create new patterns so I can be who YOU created me to be today.”
Read Matthew 4:1-11 the full account of Jesus’ temptation. He was tempted. You will be too. More good news, when the tempting was over, the devil left!
Dear Lord, Help me see my triggers, those things that cause me to cave. I want to create new patterns in my mind, will You direct me? Encourage my heart when I’m weak and teach me how to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.