I had a dream last night. Many, probably, but one that I remember because something really cool happened. In it, I was struggling with temptation. I wanted to do something that felt so appealing and desirable in the moment. I was super caught up in the idea of giving in to what was in front of me, to the degree that nothing else seemed to matter; no con list added any weight to the other side of the scale. I was about to move forward but...
This is the cool part: While dreaming, right before I was going to act, I thought, “God does not want me to do this.”
That was it.
I strongly felt, “I want to do this. I find it overwhelmingly tempting.” But before the defining moment in which I chose temporary gratification, I thought, “God does not want me to do this.” And in that same moment, my desire to give in was completely squashed.
You might be thinking: “Why squashed? I’ve done a lot of things that God wouldn’t have wanted me to do…”
So have I in the past. The difference was my instant response to the thought, “God does not want me to do this.” Immediately, in the subconscious of my dreaming self, my heart posture shifted to a position of obedience.
I wanted to obey God.
God didn't want me to give in to my temptation and that was the final word on the issue. Not in a dictatorial way that forbade me and stole my free will. But in a way that my desire to be obedient to him, to serve him, to respect him, and to trust his love for me and my well-being, was way bigger than my desire to give in to a temporary pleasure.
My feeling of conviction suffocated my feelings of temptation and I stood strong.
What does this look like during the day?
When you’re awake?
Slowing down. Taking time to think. I generally practice a 24-hour “pause period” before I make any major decisions or act on any new ideas. It really bites me when I don’t, because I don’t have the space I need with God to hear his thoughts on the situation. Temptations are so often given in to when you don’t have a disciplined practice of waiting before you act. You don’t have time to hear that small voice issuing you a warning.
Seeking guidance. Read your Bible–do a key term search if you want to focus on a certain topic or theme. Pray. Fast. Talk with a friend who is solid. Tip: If you don’t want to talk with your solid friends or mentors about what you’re considering, that’s a red flag. You probably don’t want to hear what you already know is true.
Remaining open and humble. You can’t just listen for what you want to hear, or the first two steps were a waste of your time. Look for any parts of you that are closed off and consider why that’s the case. Be honest with yourself, even if the truth is unflattering. Ask God to forgive you for not wanting to hear him, and for him to help you be open to what he has to say and humble enough to truly receive his words.
Resolving to obey. You know what you should do. Now it’s time to do it. Again, ask both God and your closest people to help you if you’re struggling to stand strong. I know for sure that God won’t fail you! Hopefully your friends won’t either, but that may be a conversation for another day...