Look Away From It, Brother, Just Look Away

Our two boys crack me up!  Last week, we were in town running several errands as a family.  We had made a few stops already and we were working our way toward checking off our final to-do item when we passed a store that Alex really wanted to go into to look at some toys.  (Back story… He recently had a birthday and had some cash he had received for the very purpose of being spent on something he would enjoy.)

Normally, we probably would have stopped, but we had already been out long enough that we were all getting ready to be home.  We had already told Alex we would not be stopping at that store, and he had graciously accepted it… even though we could tell he still really wanted to stop there.

As we turned the corner and passed the store, I heard from behind us Austin say to Alex, “Don’t even look at it. Look away from it brother, just look away.”  We all burst into laughter at the unexpected advice from one sibling to the other. It will probably become one of those sayings which sticks with a family for the rest of their lives.

Then I began to think about what Austin said.  That was great advice.  I don’t know if “out of sight, out of mind” is true, but it sure helps when you’re being tempted by something.

I’ve been asked over the years what my favorite Scripture is.  Truth is, there are so many I love that it really is difficult to select one.  But I usually tell people who ask that one of the most useful verses in all of Scripture for me has been I Corinthians 10:13.  I was challenged to memorize  it in special course for students trying to grow closer in their relationship with God.  It has certainly come in handy on more than one occasion when I didn’t even have a Bible with me.

This is what Paul wrote to help people overcome temptation…

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.

The part that has always stuck with me is that God would show me a way out of the temptation so that I would not have to give into it… so that I could stand up to it… so that I could endure it and come out of that moment victorious.  As soon as I learned that truth… that there is always a way to escape the temptation, always a way to say “no” to it… I began to look for that way of escape in every temptation that came my way.  Often, it is as simple as Austin’s advice to Alex… “Don’t even look at it.  Look away from it, brother, just look away.”

So, if you find yourself tempted today… whether by something small and simple like an extra piece of cake… or by the cashier giving you too much change… or maybe even by something more serious like taking a drink or taking someone else’s spouse, let Paul’s words echo through your heart and mind.  You don’t have to give in.  There is a way out.  Look for the escape. And then put Austin’s words into practice… Look away, brother, just look away.

Payback Time!

As a young teenager, Saturday nights from 10:30pm to midnight meant professional wrestling on TV.  Midsouth Wrestling to be specific.  Think Junkyard Dog… Hacksaw Jim Duggan… The Missing Link… Andre The Giant… Jimmy “The Super Fly” Snuka… Ted Dibiase… The Von Erichs… The Midnight Express… The Rock-N-Roll Express… The Fabulous Freebirds.  Yes, I still remember.  It was almost a religious experience for me.

The rest of the family would have already gone to bed… resting up for a Sunday full of church.  And I would be laying on the shag carpet in front of the small TV with the volume turned down low so as not to wake anyone.  Sometimes my mom would stay up a little later than the others reading a book.  She would come to tell me good night before she went to sleep and find me there, completely caught up in the frenzy of a grudge match… or a cage match… or a title bout.

Mom would try to tel me that it was all fake… all a set-up, but I wouldn’t believe her because there was real sweat and real blood.  Granted, it was no UFC (which I’ve never really watched), but I knew in my junior high mind that it was real.

I can remember one of the story lines that seemed to play out time and again… It would be a match between a “good guy” and a “bad guy.”  The good guy would be winning until the bad guy cheated… like pulling brass knuckles from his tights, or jumping off the top rope, or grabbing a chair from the audience and slamming it over the head of the unsuspecting good guy. The tide would turn in that moment and now the bad guy had the advantage.

But all of the sudden, one of the good guy’s other good guy friends would come racing out of the locker room “where he had seen the whole thing unfold on the closed circuit TV,” and this friend would come sliding into the ring to rescue his friend. And it would be payback time!

The friend would take it to the bad guy using any method necessary to let the bad guy know he had messed up… that he had messed with the wrong guy… because that good guy had friends who weren’t going to stand by and let that abuse go unpunished.

Now don’t be ridiculous… I am completely aware now that it was all fake, that all the plots were written out, that those pro wrestlers knew how to make it look like they were beating the living daylights out of each other without really doing any harm.  It was all a show.

But real life is no fake. It’s no made up show.  There are times when bad people really do mistreat good people.  Truth be told, there are even times when good people slip up and mistreat other good people.

And sometimes it looks like the person who did wrong is getting away with it.  It looks like they are going to win the day.

But there are plenty of places in Scripture which point out to us that, if we will keep a right attitude… a right heart… a right spirit, then we have a Friend who is watching it all unfold.  He will rescue us. And when He does, it will be payback time.  In fact, Zechariah 9 says that God will repay His people double for each trouble which has been inflicted upon them.

Now I can’t guarantee that you’re going to get paid back during this lifetime, although you might.  But God is keeping detailed records… one of the Psalms even says He collects every tear you ever cry in a bottle… and He will make sure that eventually payback time comes.  He will restore to you more than you ever had taken away.

So, today… if you’ve been beat down, determine to keep a right attitude and know that payback time is coming if you’ll just leave it to God!

A Little More

I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I tend to want to give up on DIY projects PR31 and I tackle.  Okay, I can confirm it… I just don’t want to.

It’s true… I have great intentions. Then the project gets more complicated… or takes longer than expected… or just ceases to be as much fun as I thought it would be.  The mundane and the minute details set in. And I just want to quit.

“Let’s just stop for now and go to bed.”

“Let’s just leave it at that point and pretend that was the look we were going for.”

Now, to give myself a small pat on the back, I have gotten a little better.  (Or I’ve learned not to tackle as many projects.)  But I’ve learned something from PR31…

At the point I want to give up, I’m much closer to being finished than when I began. And when I realize how much time, effort and energy I’ve already invested, the amount that is left to do seems small in comparison.

It would be like a runner getting to mile 25 of a marathon and wanting to quit. At that point, there is only 1.2 miles left.  If they will just press on, they will accomplish something very few people do.

It would be like tilling the ground, pulling the grass and weeds, planting seeds, watering, feeding plants… and then giving up because you haven’t been able to pick any veggies yet.

This is much easier when we’re talking DIY projects and running and gardening than it is when we’re talking about finishing writing a book… or finding the right person to marry… or overcoming an illness… or finding a job.  When these more serious tasks in life seem to drag on, we can get weary of doing the right things… We can want to quit.

But that’s not the time to quit!  C’mon… you’re further along now than when you began.  You’re almost there! Just a little more!  You can make it! Don’t stop now!  If you won’t give up, you’re closer than you’ve ever been to seeing that dream come true… that miracle take place… that project completed… that relationship restored.

Just a little more!  You can do it!!! He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion… if you won’t give up on Him.

Take a deep breath… get your second wind… get another sip of coffee… and see this thing through!  You’ll be glad you did!

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