The Lure of Chains
God clearly has an agenda and a message for today. How do I know this? Because a couple weeks ago Teresa mentioned that she would appreciate a guest post and I was happy to assist. And that’s when we wrote… well… the same thing! (See Vacation and God.) I love when God does that! It’s hard to wait. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to trade our birthright for a measly bowl of stew. But I think this is exactly why God wants to remind us again that the blessing comes when we fix our eyes on Him and wait.
My body and breath moved in rhythmic synchrony along the gravel road while my head sorted through a much less organized sequence of thoughts and emotions. The enemy of my soul has returned with yet another round of temptation. It’s the usual stuff at the usual time. The one that comes in all smiles and charm when I am stressed out, emotional and just plain tired of standing firm.
The thing is he knows me. Not because he can read my thoughts, but because he observes my behavior. He has more years of experience at this life here on planet earth than I do— after all he’s been around since Adam and Eve. And he is so uncreative! His lie hasn’t changed in the last few thousand years… Did God actually say? (Genesis 3:1)
As I cross the small wooden bridge that takes me into the next town I suddenly realize that the tradeoff I contemplate is like that of Esau selling his birthright.
“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!”… Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:29-32, ESV)
Exhausted, worn-out, hungry Esau traded away his birthright for the very fleeting pleasure and satisfaction of a bowl of stew. It’s so entirely illogical and I’ve often read that and wondered how someone could be so stupid. But I think the truth is, we all have our own secret recipe of stew that with one whiff makes our head dizzy and our mouth salivate. Add just the right combination of hungry and exhausted and we make the trade as well.
We children of the Most High King, we too have a birthright. Paul spends a lot of time in his letters to the churches reminding them of who they are in Christ. But on this day, the words of Paul written to the church in Galatia particularly resonate in my spirit. “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:6-7, ESV) “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, ESV, emphasis added)
As sons and daughters our birthright is freedom. Freedom. Freedom purchased by the precious blood of Christ.
The moment we say yes to temptation is the moment we begin handing over our birthright of freedom. Piece by piece, until we are all swallowed up in chains. And suddenly that temptation that we thought we could dabble with just a bit has us under it’s control. One, very unsatisfying bowl of stew. Sin always costs more than we are actually willing to pay.
So like Paul, I say to myself and to you, “Stand firm, Solider!” Choose right-living because it is the breastplate that will guard your heart (Galatians 6:14); walk in the light and the light of fellowship (1 John 17); honor Him (Proverbs 3:5-6) and pray (Ephesians 6:18). It occurs to me that we really only have one choice that we have to make and that is the path of intimacy with our Father.
The confusing mess of temptation becomes remarkably clear in the daylight of our Mighty God. By the power and the grace of the Holy Spirit, may you and I have the courage to be children of light, dressed in our spiritual armor and walking, no running, hand-in-hand with our Father.