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The Believer’s Responsibility: Take the Way Out


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Most of my hikes are really enjoyable with good weather, great companions, and beautiful scenery. But there was one that was miserable.

 

Eleven of us guys spent three days hiking 25 miles. After hiking in and spending our first night in relative comfort, we got up on day two and set out to hit our first two mountains. About mid-morning, it started to rain, a cold, drenching, persistent rain. There was no view from the top and we were freezing, so our day primarily consisted of slogging through mud while we were cold and wet.

 

The third day, we awoke to more rain. Again, there was no view from the top, and we spent another day cold and wet. When we returned to our lean-to, we found a few other men cooking their dinner under the overhang of our crowded space. I directed my young sons to get dried off so they could warm up while I cooked dinner. For the next 45 minutes, I continued to get soaked by the cold rain as I prepared a hot meal for the boys. After cleaning up dinner, I realized we needed more water for breakfast, so off I went into the dark to refill the bottles.

 

Did I mention that I was miserable? I was cold and wet, worn down physically, and felt like I was making all the sacrifices to take care of others (on top of terrible physical conditions, the pity party didn’t help my attitude!).

As I walked down the trail all alone, my mind began to drift toward an old habitual pattern. There was a time in my teens when I feel asleep each night dreaming about winning the lottery so I could have a sports car, a big house, and everyone would want to spend time with me. I wanted to escape the challenges of reality. As a teen, that most often took me down an unhealthy path toward sin.

 

Thankfully, I quickly realized this old pattern of thinking. I knew what the Lord had told us through the Apostle Paul, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV).

 

It's important to note the context of this verse. In 1 Corinthians 10, the Apostle Paul recounts the story of God leading the Israelites through the wilderness. He explains how they passed through the sea to escape the Egyptian army (a scary time), ate the manna (an insecure time, would they have food?), and drank from the rock (another insecure time, would they die of thirst?). The Israelites felt miserable, so they grumbled and complained, just like I did as I walked down the trail to get water. Despite God’s miraculous guidance, provision, and protection, many of the people turned to idolatry, adultery, and rebellious complaining (the original pity party in the wilderness).

The Lord makes this point: “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did… they were written down for our instruction… Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 for the full context).  

 

In my case, the way of escape was simple: remind myself that I have been raised with Christ and set my mind on Him (Colossians 3:1-3), get the water, and hi-tail it back to camp to be with my family and friends.

So, I took my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), quickly filled up the water bottles, and headed back down the trail, singing the song “Lord, I Need You” at the top of my lungs. It was over a half mile back to camp, so I had a few minutes. Before I realized it, the Lord had changed my attitude from misery to joy. My mind was completely clean and clear, and I knew the Lord was with me.

 

Dear Saints, our job is to recognize temptation and unhealthy thought patterns early on, before they engage our emotions and before we resort to old flesh patterns to escape what’s difficult.

 

Do you recognize those things that predispose you to temptation and sin? In my case, I was feeling tired, miserable, alone, and sorry for myself. What negative emotions cause you to consider sin? Remember that sin stems from the temptation to meet your God-given, legitimate needs apart from the provision of God. Will you choose to trust Him to meet your needs?

Learn to walk with Jesus. He is the way out. And remember, it never hurts to sing a praise song at the top of your lungs!

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Dan Studt
President, Freedom in Christ-USA

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