"Is God tempting me?"
Unknowingly, I asked that question a thousand times.
I am one of those people who overthink situations. I desire to do God’s will, but I stress about finding God’s will. I seek and search and run over situations a million times, asking myself if this is God’s will. I have often stressed myself to the point of breakdown trying to seek God’s will, particularly about boys.
For the longest time, I saw cute boys, but there was never really an opportunity to date these boys. They were just boys I noticed and thought were cute.
I think I unwittingly pictured God dangling these cute boys in front of me. And it distressed me :
God, why would you allow me to see this person all the time and not give me an opportunity to know them? Why would you dangle the thing I desire most right in front of my face but always keep it out of reach?
That was my struggle for so many years. Wondering why I was always disappointed. Why God was always keeping that blessing out of reach.
It wasn’t until I studied the book of James that God revealed to me my wrong thinking.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed.”-James 1:13-14
Seems like a fairly straightforward verse. Yeah, yeah. God doesn’t tempt me. It’s a “me” problem once again.
But there is so much more to this verse when you break it down.
Let’s think about the first part. It says that God doesn’t tempt anyone. God doesn’t tempt us because that would be the opposite of what God wants. He wants us to be pure, freed from the captivity that slavery to our fleshly desires is.
God is a gift-giver. He gives good gifts, and He’s not ambiguous about it. He doesn’t dangle things in front of you only to keep them out of reach.
It’s Satan who’s doing the dangling. It’s Satan who is trying to convince you that God is or isn’t trying to give you a gift. It’s Satan who’s trying to harness your desires to drag you away from the goodness of Jesus.
James tells us that it is our own desires that drag us away. When I picture somebody being dragged, it’s forceful. The person being dragged is struggling against the people pulling him away. And once they have a hold of him, they try to convince their victim that this is what is right. That God isn’t a good God or enough to satisfy.
It’s our desires, those shadows that lurk in our hearts, that try to drag us away from the loving embrace of Jesus.
Our desires aren’t inherently bad. The desire to have a family isn’t bad. The desire to be married isn’t bad. The desire for intimacy isn’t bad. But it’s when we allow them to grab ahold of us and drag us away from Jesus that they become wrong. Desires have their place, but when fed, they become voracious. We have to learn to bring our desires to Jesus and allow His love to satisfy what is lacking.
When I read this verse, I could finally see who was really dangling that hope of a relationship in front of me, but just out of reach. It was Satan. He was trying to confuse me, to convince me that this relationship with this boy or that one was what God wanted. He was masquerading. He knew that I desire intimacy, relationship, family. He saw that I was running my race well. And he knew that he cannot stop me. The only hope he has is slowing me down so that I get distracted, off-course. Time and time again, he fooled me. I would cry and ask God why He was doing this when all along it was Satan. I allowed him to convince me for so many years of my life.
But God exposed him.
God isn’t someone who gets pleasure out of dangling blessings just out of reach. He loves giving His children good gifts. When He gives, He gives fully. But like a good father, He knows that there is a time and place for candy. If He gives it every day, it won’t be a treat anymore.
Trust that your Father knows what is best for you. Learn to recognize Satan’s bait when it is dangled in front of you. Train yourself to pull back the veil and recognize who is behind what. Trust that your Father loves you enough to say “no” sometimes. Trust that when He says “yes” it’s because He wants to give you something beautiful.