Cold Water and Blazing Sun

It is amazing how frigid pool water makes 95+ degree weather seem almost mild.

Knowing the temperatures will be soaring into triple digits in the next few days, I had Matt fill up the kiddie pool over lunch so we could take a dip this afternoon. After thoroughly applying sunscreen on each of us, Lauren shrieked with delight as we headed outside.

A shock of freezing water awaited our toes as we gingerly stepped in. Well, I should say Jackson and I carefully stepped into the pool. Lauren went all out, blazing right into the water with as much splashing as possible. Knowing the cold water wouldn’t be so bad once my body adjusted, I eventually sat down, going through several phases to get there so I wouldn’t have to take it all at once.

"Sun in the sky...

Temperatures will be close to or exceeding 100 through the weekend

As the kids splashed and played, I thought it really didn’t seem that hot. The sun was shining brightly, and I could feel its warmth on my shoulders, but surely it wasn’t in the mid-90s.

That’s what cold, cold water does for you. It numbs you to the heat. It tricks you into thinking that you can stay outside longer than you should, counteracting the hot air and your better judgment.

Aren’t Satan’s tactics the same? He knows how to tap into our rational nature, and numb us to the danger of sin. Satan is a master of deception and encourages us to push the boundaries. He uses cold water to take the edge off the fiery sun of temptation with which he intends to burn our witness. And as we are in the middle of the experience, it just doesn’t seems so bad because our senses are blocked from the danger.

It’s only later that we realize our skin is sensitive to the touch. As the night wears on, the burn begins to show more clearly.

How can we avoid this predicament?

  1. Avoid the danger all together
    If you know that you are sensitive to a particular temptation, avoid it. Period. Follow the example of Joseph. When his boss’ wife threw herself at him, he ran. He didn’t stop and assess the situation, he got out of there as fast as he could. (Read Joseph’s story)
  2. Use the right sunscreen, and apply liberally
    If the danger is unavoidable, or God is calling you to be a part of a situation in which you will encounter this temptation, preparation is key. You must be in God’s Word daily, making the time to connect your heart with Christ in prayer. Guzzling His living water is a requirement. Then, when you are exposed to the danger, you will know the right actions to take, and more importantly, who to turn to for protection. Consider Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They loved the Lord with all their heart, and when they were challenged to bow to the King’s idol or die, they refused to dishonor God. They were thrown into a fiery furnace, and God Himself showed up and saved them from certain death. (Learn more about this miracle)
  3. Set limits and stick to them
    Follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. Let Him set your boundaries. Don’t make it your goal to see how close you can get to danger without getting hurt; make it your priority to be as close as possible to God. Remember James 4:7 – resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Stand with God, and obey Him completely.

As we are all now relaxing in our air-conditioned house after our fun in the sun, the kids and I are just a little pink. Thankfully, our 50 SPF sunscreen did its job.

Backward

Looking backward often results in backward thinking.

This past week, I’ve faced a great deal of temptation to look backward, and it was hard for me not to travel down the “what if” path. I failed to resist the thoughts pressed against me, reminding me of all the things I was missing. The mind and the heart are good at playing tricks on you, especially when you’ve allowed yourself to be vulnerable to the temptation.

God has also been faithful to me, and reminded me that there is no temptation that will overwhelm me when I stay by my side. He has helped me to stay in the Word, realize when I am being attacked and cling to him, and provided messages online and even on Twitter that I needed to be encouraged by Godly people.

A pillar of salt

God drew my attention to a few different examples in Scripture of people who were drawn backward though God was moving forward. In particular, I thought about Lot’s wife. In a few brief moments, their family had to literally run out of town, spurred on by angels, because God’s wrath was about to rain down on the city. She knew she was being saved, and God was specifically moving them forward for their safety and survival, but she could not resist looking behind. She became a Pillar of Salt as she glanced back at what was her home.

I also considered the people of Israel being fantastically extracted from Egypt on a wave of incredible plagues God sent to proclaim His majesty and complete authority. God delivered the people on a dry path straight through the Red Sea and guided them with a Pillar of Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night. Yet, the moment they were thirsty, they cried out for the “good old days” in Egypt, never mind that they were slaves under harsh persecution.

In both of these circumstances, looking back caused backward thinking that ended in despair and judgment. Our past is never better than being by God’s side right now, and the future we have with Him in heaven.

Are you struggling to claim today for Jesus because you are still living in the past? Are you unable to enjoy the good gifts God’s given you now because you are longing for things that have been sacrificed to get here? Are you ineffective in and unaware of what God intends for you to be doing now because you are still fighting battles God has already won?

Be encouraged! You are not alone. Hold fast to Jesus and admit your struggles to Him. Ask Jesus to free you from looking backward and fix your eyes on Him alone. Dig your heels in, because God’s Word promises that if you resist the Devil, he WILL flee from you (James 4:7).

Pray through this Scripture passage today from Psalm 119:33-40:

Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
      I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
      I will put them into practice with all my heart.
Make me walk along the path of your commands,
      for that is where my happiness is found.
Give me an eagerness for your laws
      rather than a love for money!
Turn my eyes from worthless things,
      and give me life through your word.
Reassure me of your promise,
      made to those who fear you.
Help me abandon my shameful ways;
      for your regulations are good.
I long to obey your commandments!
      Renew my life with your goodness.