When Dianna and I were chaplains onboard the Mercy Ship, I had a discipling relationship with a crew member onboard. He was a great guy – brilliant mind, fun personality, loved his wife and kids – loved and served the Lord faithfully!
But he had smoked his entire life. He was completely addicted to cigarettes, and he wanted to stop smoking. His wife wanted him to stop – but he was addicted! And from what I understand, nicotine addiction is one of the most difficult ones to break.
One day, he asked my advice, and as I often do when I’m counseling someone and I have no idea what to say(!), I prayed a little silent prayer, and I felt God gave me something to say – something that I wasn’t expecting – and so I asked him, “How many cigarettes do you smoke each day?”
He said 5-6. Smoking was not allowed onboard the ship, so I said, “5-6 times a day, you go down to the dock to smoke a cigarette?” And he said yes.
I asked, “How long does each smoking break last?” He said about 10 minutes.
So I said, “You stop whatever you’re doing 6 times a day, to go walk around outside for 10 minutes and smoke a cigarette.” And he said yes.
And this was the odd thing that I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to say to him: “…I think you should invite God to go on your smoking breaks with you…”
Imagine if every Christian stopped what they were doing 6 times a day to go walk around outside with God for 10 minutes!
Now, I’m not encouraging you to take up smoking(!), but I am encouraging you to invite God to join you in your moments of temptation. If God doesn’t have all of you, invite Him into the places where you struggle to fully surrender to Him. And ask Him to join you there.
When and where are you most tempted to do or to think or to believe things that draw you away from God? Invite Him there! Ask Him to join you there.
If God is everywhere all the time, and if He knows everything, then our temptations and our weaknesses and our compulsions are not hidden from Him. They’re not unknown to Him.
He’s not surprised by what tempts us; He’s not shocked by our tendencies… So why not ask Him to meet us there. Why not make those weak moments, those tempting moments – why not make those moments of prayer?
I’ll tell you when I’m most tempted: I am at my absolute weakest, spiritually-speaking, whenever I feel overwhelmed – or, whenever I feel like I’ve failed someone close to me. Failure and stress leave me super-vulnerable to temptations. But what’s even below that?
Is it a desire for approval? An expectation of success? Is it a drive for perfection? Or even just a craving to be liked?
What is it for you? What are the hidden causes of temptation and weakness in the darker corners of your soul? Think beneath the behaviors themselves…
I’ll name a few for you: safety and security, pleasure, entertainment, comfort…
These are the kinds of underlying things that really pose the greatest threat to the lordship of our lives – of God having all of us. It’s things like vanity and, always being concerned about the way you look… or how people see you… or what they are thinking about you…
Things like wealth, or influence, or position… or having a sense of power or authority, or recognition… being noticed…
I want to encourage you today to give God every part of your life – even your temptations, even your weaknesses – even your vulnerabilities to sin – even the darker corners of your soul where the real rivals to God’s lordship over our lives dwell. I want you to come to Him, and to lay your idols at His feet. Surrender those things to God today, and invite Him in to every aspect of your life…
Great story and illustration–appreciate the time you taking writing this–very encouraging!
Hope you are well!
Thank you so much, Jack! It’s great to hear from you! I hope you and your family are all doing well :-)