Undefeated: Winning Over Temptation Wk 2: Know Who You Are Not
As we begin our second week of Lent, I remind you and encourage you that no matter what temptations we face in life, or struggles and difficulties, we don’t have to let them defeat us. We can stay undefeated. This is only the second week of our homily series we call Undefeated: Winning Over Temptation. Lent is a great time to practice winning over temptation and difficulties along our life’s journey, to stay undefeated. We all have different seasons in our lives. Sometimes we are more tempted to give-in to temptation and difficulty than we are at other times.
Maybe Abraham was tempted to tell God, no. Abraham must have had a terrible sinking feeling when God told him, at age 75, to pack up his family, gather his flocks, and leave the only home he’d ever known. “I’m going to take you to a wonderful new place,” said the Lord, “but I’m not going to tell you where it is.” It was an intriguing promise; but not knowing where he was going was profoundly unsettling. Life is like that.
Time and again we find ourselves in circumstances we haven’t faced before – and with no map and no owner’s manual. We say to ourselves: but I haven’t been a first grader before, I’ve not been to high school before, a college freshman before. I haven’t been married, or a priest, or the pope before. I haven’t been unemployed or old or had a heart attack before. Wow, I’ve never had cancer before.
When those things happen, those times of transition and difficulty, we should ask ourselves: “Who am I in the eyes of God.” You and I are daughters and sons of God, and like Abraham we are on a journey through life.
Lent is a good opportunity to take the time to try to take a step closer to the truth. And in a particular way to try to own the truth about ourselves, because self-knowledge is always incomplete. And the truth is we are incomplete, and we need help. Ultimately we need God’s help to help us stay undefeated in life, and when we have a setback we need God’s help to get us restarted. Remember Jesus heavily relied on the help of the Holy Spirit. We discussed that a lot last week, and HE was the Son of God. It is important for us to remember, we are not the Son of God or God. We need help on the pilgrimage, the journey of life.
The Apostles in the gospels today also need help. So Jesus takes them up the mountain to reveal to them who he really is and who they are in comparison to him. The message here is: know who the Lord is, and know who we are not. Know who you are not, and follow the Lord’s direction like Abraham. No one is good at everything. None of us have all the gifts. Yet it is amazing how we continue to frustrate ourselves by trying to be people who we are not.
The truth about yourself will set you free. We have good news. There is a God, and it’s not you, or me. I find that liberating. We don’t have to try and be God. When we try to control things, it causes us tremendous, undue, unnecessary stress and drives us crazy. We simply have to be God’s faithful sons and daughters, one step at a time, on our journey. Rely on him. The Son of God has come to rescue us. Rely on him.
Reflect on this. When do we act like God, and what happens when we do? On the other hand, when do we act like a daughter or son, and what happens when we do? Sons and daughters, that is who we are. It is a relief to know that we are not God, and don’t have to try to be?
About YOUR journey, about YOUR pilgrimage we call life, at every new stage of life, a familiar door closes and a new one opens, though it often takes us a while to find that new door. When we do, will we dare to walk through it? Will we figure out how to take what we find there and make a new life? Or will we waste months and years trying to get back into rooms that are now locked to us forever? It all depends on who’s with us when a new door opens. Is it the Lord. If we’re walking alone, it will probably be more than we can handle, and we’ll just cave in upon ourselves.
But if we’ve been walking with the Lord all along, a new door may make us nervous, but it won’t break us. We’ll begin to see that this new place has something we needed to complete our journey, but hadn’t realized it yet. And with a trusting heart, we’ll step forward. Step forward with confidence when the next segment of your journey reveals itself. And don’t look back. The Lord is with you here and now. And our undefeated, Lord Jesus, will stay with you all the way home.
Last week we encouraged you to pray the simple prayer come Holy Spirit, in your mind, throughout the week. This week let’s add just a bit to that. For this week, throughout the week, in your mind, I encourage you to pray: come Holy Spirit help me to see who I am. Come Holy Spirit help me to see who I am.