The moment we looked out the window of our home in northern Wisconsin, my two brothers and I knew we had to try it. Freezing rain had coated the world in a dangerous, but beckoning, layer of ice. Trees bent under the icy weight, glistening in the bright sunlight. The steep hill beside our house was covered in a thick layer of sheer ice.
You’d think we were little kids (we were actually home from college on Christmas break) the way we scrambled to get out the door. We just HAD to slide down that hill on the ice.
We did run into one small problem, though. We couldn’t find any sleds. Growing up in the north, we’d always had plenty of them stacked in the basement or garage. But over the years the supply had dwindled, and on this day we couldn’t find a single one.
No worries! We discovered a large sheet of corrugated iron out behind the house. Yeah, this would be safe. 🙂
Digging our heels into the ice, we carefully climbed to the top of the hill, dragging our makeshift sled. At the top we gingerly sat on the freezing metal while holding ourselves in place.
On the count of three, we pulled our legs and arms in.
What happened next is one big blur. We flew down the steep incline breathtakingly fast. The hill seemed not only sheathed in ice, but coated in wax. There was absolutely NO WAY we were going to stop before reaching the bottom.
We landed in the ditch below in perfect formation—one, two, three of us in the exact order we had started in. But something was missing.
We looked back up the hill and collapsed in fits of laughter. That old piece of corrugated iron had snagged on a tuft of grass poking up through the ice about halfway down the hill. It stuck fast.
But WE continued flying down the hill. The treacherous ice, combined with the momentum of our bodies, shot us straight to the bottom.
No sled needed.
Momentum is a powerful force.
Nowhere is it more powerful than in the area of temptation. All it takes is one little decision—one step toward the temptation—for momentum to build until we are unable to stop it. Just as my brothers and I were unable to stop ourselves on the icy hill, so temptation becomes so strong that we are unable to resist.
King David’s life is an example of this. From his palace roof, he watched another man’s wife bathing. He should have immediately removed himself from his vantage point, but he didn’t. He took one step after another until the momentum of his actions became a destructive force that affected his kingdom from that point on.
He sent for Bathsheba, committed adultery with her, and ultimately plotted the murder of her husband to cover up his actions. Could he have stopped the momentum of this temptation? Yes, if he would have chosen differently at the very beginning.
Once we begin to take steps toward temptation, it is very hard to stop.
Let’s illustrate with a somewhat silly story.
Jane is trying to lose weight. She’s drinking water, taking daily walks, and eating sensibly. For a couple of weeks, all goes well.
Then one afternoon she is at the supermarket picking up the week’s groceries. Pulling a gallon of milk out of the cooler, she glances across the aisle.
And the cookie aisle beckons.
Particularly the packages of Oreos stacked neatly on the shelf.
Jane LOVES Oreos. She finds herself standing in front of the brightly-colored packages, imagining dunking one into a cold glass of milk.
She ponders a moment. Surely just one Oreo won’t do any harm? Yes, didn’t she hear something about diets being more effective when you allow yourself one treat now and then? That’s what she’d do. Just one Oreo tonight after dinner. Just one.
Jane slipped the package into the shopping cart next to the milk. No harm done.
But you know the rest of the story. One Oreo after dinner turned into the whole package while watching a Hallmark movie.
When did Jane lose the battle?
Not when she binged on the whole package, but when she bought the cookies at the store.
It’s the same way with sinful temptation. We lose the battle the moment we make it easy for ourselves to sin—the moment we take that first step.
So what are we to do? How can we fight the momentum of temptation?
First, arm yourself with God’s Word. Find verses that speak of fighting temptation, write them down, and carry them with you. Scripture is powerful. When you are tempted, pull out the weapon of God’s Word.
Second, make it hard for the sin to happen. Avoid the people, places, and things that will tempt you. Put literal roadblocks in your way. Don’t put yourself in a position where the sin is within your grasp.
Third, find an accountability partner to pray with you and hold you accountable. Give them permission to text or call (every day if need be) to check up on you. It’s amazing how much the act of accountability affects the choices we make.
In short, make decisions that will give you the victory before the battle starts. God has not left us without help in the area of temptation. He has given us everything we need to successfully fight off the attacks of the devil.
But we have to make good choices before the momentum of temptation builds.
“Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward (perverse) things;
Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness.” (Proverbs 2:11-13)
For ordering information on my devotional book, Tales from Toddlers, click HERE.