Girls in underwear, killing deer and somehow God.
A few weeks ago, I found a young woman in underwear in my living room. I had just walked in the front door after work and there she was. She screamed. I stepped back out of the house and shut the front door. After waiting for a few seconds I walked back in to find her laughing with my wife.
Apparently a mutual friend had given my wife a bunch of clothes she no longer wanted. So they were trying them on, seeing what fit best. Since there were three children under the age of four running around, they decided to just put the clothes on right there in the living room.
Now although that was a moment of comedy, not temptation, I think that’s how I like to pretend temptation works. When I fall and look back on the steps that got me there, I like to imagine that I was casually going about my day when some young, attractive woman in underwear fell from the sky. Out of nowhere, an unexpected moment took me by surprise and caught me off guard. It was beyond my control. Who knew I was headed down this path.
But I don’t think temptation works that way. The more I learn about me and the things that continue to wound me, the more I realize that temptation is a lot like an article I recently read in Field & Stream magazine. In the April 2007 issue, which I know you have as well, there’s a special section on how to build a “food plot.” A food plot is a small piece of land that a hunter cultivates to attract deer. It’s essentially a kill zone that is delicately and deliberately grown to provide the most trophy bucks possible.
That’s how I think temptation works. More specifically, using the Field & Stream instructions on how to build a food plot, this is what I think temptation does to us:
1. Pick a Spot
We all have spots, don’t we? Places in our hearts where we are weakest, and usually temptation knows exactly where they are. It’s crazy how consistent they are. I would say that since I was about 12, I’ve had the same spot and temptation rarely needs to pick a new one. The spot is rarely new and when we don’t identify them, temptation can hit them again and again and again.
2. Clear the Plot
Temptation works best in isolation. When you’re in community with other people, when you’re accountable and not keeping secrets, it’s much harder for temptation to grab hold of you. So one of the first things temptation does is clear your life of close relationships.
3. Kill and Till
With people out of the way, it’s now time to get rid of any good influences you have. Reading, journaling, silent time in general gets suffocated out of your life as temptation tries to eradicate any port you could sail to in the storm that is on its the way.
4. Prep the Soil
I’ve said a billion times that no one wakes up on a Tuesday and decides to have an affair or embezzle money. It’s a slow process that takes time, a death of a thousand cuts if you will. At this point, temptation is getting you ready, making you receptive to difficult decisions. Your support network is gone, the good things in your life have been removed and now, you’re suddenly faced with a small crossroads.
5. Plant the Seed
For me, at this point, I’m so far gone that it’s difficult to turn back. That’s something we often forget about temptation, it has tremendous momentum. What might have been stoppable at step 1 or even 2 is a freight train of emotions and frustration heading for a crash. And the seeds within my heart are growing.
6. Hunt the Plot
This is the part of the story where I get a small bullet hole right behind my ear as I casually go about my day. The part where something from the shadows crushes me and leaves me dead one more time. Field & Stream suggests, “Don’t make the mistake of creating a great plot and then sticking a big tower stand along an open edge. Deer will learn to avoid the plot after only a few hunts.” That’s so true. If temptation was obvious, if it carried a neon sign that said “I will wreck your marriage,” I would probably avoid it. But it never does, so I walk back into the food plot again and again.
Temptation is never a girl that falls from the sky, a big trash bag full of money that lands on your doorstep or a pot plant that suddenly grows in your backyard. It’s a hunter with a laser scope and a kill zone and all the time in the world. And if we’re not careful, if we don’t stay in community and keep our ground covered with good things and avoid the smallest seeds of temptation in our hearts, we’ll all end up with our heads mounted on a wall.