“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted. ‘I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” James 1:12-14
When Dana and I completed seminary in 1978, we moved to beautiful Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. This city is located in the northeastern corner of the state, and situated in the gorgeous, lake-filled Green Country, east of the city of Tulsa. We loved the people there, and when our first child was born, they received her into their hearts. B.A. will always hold a special place in our hearts, and feel like home to us.
As we began our student ministry at the First Baptist Church, we discovered young people with a passion for bass fishing. In support of their pursuit of the perfect bass, a huge industry had developed, turning the sport of fishing into a serious business, and an amazing science. Our students would often gather to watch TV fishing shows. One of the local bass pros would wax eloquent with tips and pet phrases. When he hooked his latest catch, he would shout, “Whoah! Son!” He was so serious about his pursuit of fish, that he turned the swimming pool in his backyard into a bass tank. Can you say cement pond?
Dana and I would often walk over the fields outside of town, with some of our more aggressive young fishermen searching for the next best fishing hole. As housing develops began to gobble up the countryside, there were small, bass filled ponds that developers would soon pave over with houses and streets. We were racing dozers and catching bass, as fast as we could.
One of my favorite memories includes watching Dana casting into one of these ponds, and resting her fishing rod on her stomach, while Ashley was still in her tummy. She always looked so cute, and to be honest, she caught more fish than I did.
One of the topics of conversation on these walks to the fishing hole would be the choice of lures. These were intense arguments about the latest and greatest creation. They had the most exotic names, but the life expectancy of a fruit fly. As soon as one lure would be advertised on the fishing shows on TV, another one would take its place. Apparently scientists were always striving to get into the brain of a bass, and read its mind. The lure was the key to landing the perfect catch, and the best minds of the nation were always working on the next one.
James warns us that the relentless enemy has always used lures, and still drags them in front of your eyes to get inside your mind. Don’t be too proud to pray for The Father’s discernment to avoid becoming “The Catch of The Day.”
Persevering under trial is only possible with persevering prayer. It is the key to discerning the difference between the truth of God, and the lure from the enemy. When you are prayerful, you are not blessed by the trial, but you are blessed in it by the companionship of Jesus. Pray your way through each trial, and let Jesus guide you away from any temptation. Don’t bite on lures that will bite you back, and carry you away.
Lures are meant to entice you into biting on the enemy’s next best lie. The enemy doesn’t always try to scare you with the worst thing that can happen to you. Sometimes, he drags a trial in front of you, like a lure to distract you with what looks good in your eyes. In doing so he turns you away from what is best in God’s eyes.
Note to Self: Persevering prayer will remind you that the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy God’s best for your life. The evil one sometimes lures you, by presenting you with what is good. His desire is to lure you away from God’s best. Don’t settle for a good idea, when God’s idea is best for your life. The enemy presents the lure. The Father blesses you with His Presence. The blessing of His Presence is just a prayer away. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!