When Lies Creep in to Tempt
“You can’t go back there. There’s nothing there for you and nothing solid that you can hold on to there.”
Pink twilight slips off four tall blue spruce trees. Yellow and tan houses blanch highlit and then fade to cool cream as the sun dips lower. Neighborhood noises are quiet but my mind is elsewhere.
And I can see it: how the early Jewish followers of Jesus would have felt in 64-69 AD. The city of Rome had already been burning for six days, started by Emperor Nero in 64 AD but blamed on the Christians. The Romans had perfected ways to kill, and Jesus-followers were often burned as human torches or thrown into the arena alongside animals and gladiators. Many Jewish Christians were considering retreating back into the safety of their lives before they had followed Jesus. Stepping away from public pursuits of following Jesus and back into their former lives seemed safer and easier.
And while I certainly don’t know what it is like to stand in rough burlap before a snarling panther, I can still relate to the allure of falling back into other ways of getting my needs met. I can understand the allure of old habits, of old ways of seeking fulfillment and of trying to fill needs.
“There’s nothing back there. There’s nothing there for you, and nothing solid that you can hold on to there.”
For lip-biting Near Eastern friends in the 60s AD, the Bible author of the New Testament book of Hebrews leans close and makes his argument. Here, see these things that you hold dear? The people from your past that you’ve lifted up so high? Here is how Jesus and his way of doing life are superior to those old habits. Here is how Jesus is the fulfillment of those stated, created needs. He is the Ultimate Answer to all those questions we have been asking and wondering, and trying to have met in every other way.
I’m 46 years old. Pink twilight fades to lavender and I find myself asking similar questions some days, and God and his words whisper truth to me too. “You can’t go back there. That won’t fill you up. There’s nothing there for you.”
Silence in a backyard. Branches sit motionless. Small red leaves wait, wrapped. Vibrant new life pauses, rolled, awaiting curtain-call.
“Where else would I go?” I mouth the words that had grabbed my heart with new life several years ago, these words the hope-filled answer to the lies that twist and hang before me some days. “Where else would I go?” I repeat, these words sweat-stained and breath-worn, lived-in. Words that ancient Near Eastern men had exclaimed when their life trajectories looked in peril, and they had answered themselves without a pause. “Where else would we go?” [The answer is nowhere else could satisfy like You do.] You hold the words of life!”
And I mean it, and claim it, and step past the lie of trying to have my needs met elsewhere. You hold the words of life, God. Your heart can be trusted.
A full moon stands tall above the spruce trees now, luminous and bright. And for me, the joy splashes in. The temptation passes. The lie has been caught in the glare of God’s light, exposed, and turned down. You meet my needs, Abba God, in true good ways.
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Jennifer speaks often at MOPS/MomsNext groups, at the Set Apart conference, at churches, retreats, camps, home school co-ops and more. She loves getting to know people and making new friends.