My desire is to become more and more healthy and strong from the inside-out, as a disciple and follower of Jesus. I want to throw off anything that hinders or entangles as I run this race (Hebrews 12:1).
This is a journey and there are many areas of my life that God has transformed. However, sometimes I still find myself desiring to escape something unpleasant to something pleasurable, even if it’s not what God has for me. Can you relate?
Whether you’re escaping a broken heart, aloneness/loneliness, boredom, financial, relational, or job-related stress, or a pandemic that is sweeping over the globe…
Whether it’s escaping to your relationships, sleep, food, entertainment, video games, social media, your phone, Netflix, porn, masturbation, reading, shopping, work, ministry, exercise, substances, some other form of self-comfort… __________…
The other day, Aya spoke to those who are inclined to escape when the going gets tough. She declared, “You are OVERCOMERS”. Not escapers. Overcomers. Not overcoming the desire to escape in your own strength, but by Christ who gives us strength (Phil 4:13).
What if we fasted from escape? A lot of those activities are good. But if the motivation to go to them is because you’re trying to escape something, it becomes an escape from the One thing that we actually CAN take refuge in. We can’t, in the same moment, both run to God and run to something else, we are choosing one or the other. The other things are temporary, and provide a false sense of escape. But God says we can run into His refuge. What would it be like to take inventory of our motivations behind a desire to do something, and if the motivation is escape, instead run to God?
Let’s not have any idols before God.
Think about the list of ‘pleasures’ above and identify which in your life you may use as escapes from time to time. What is a current unpleasant area of your life?
The next time you’re feeling drawn towards your “pleasure of choice”, pause and consider if the reason you’re feeling drawn to it is to run from something unpleasant. The next time you feel like running or retreating from that unpleasant thing, think about what you are feeling tempted to turn to. Say no, and instead go to God. Tell him how you are feeling.
Be real with God about your emotions. We can come before Him with our heart completely exposed. (He already knows our hearts, so why not tell Him! Don’t stuff your emotions down but express them to God. He can handle them!) He loves us completely and continuously. Say, “I’m so angry about ____”. “I’m so fearful/anxious about ____”. “I’m so sad about ____”.
Spend time with Him in that place of refuge/shelter, and then write down what He’s saying. Write truth. And choose to believe it. His words are always true. “This is how I feel… but THIS is what You say! I hand you my feelings, and I exchange them for your words of truth and hope and peace and joy. Amen!!!!!”
Let’s “escape” from the temptation to escape! When we run to Him instead, He promises to be there.
“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Cor 10:13
He will hide us in Him. His refuge is a place of reprieve from the pressures from which we’re trying to escape. There we will find comfort, strength, and begin to see from His perspective.
“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection.” Psalm 91:4
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” Psalm 27:5
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
My desire as a follower of Jesus is to be strong in Him.
“I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“David was greatly distressed […] but David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Sam 30:6
Being strong in the Lord and being trained for spiritual battle looks like FINDING STRENGTH IN THE LORD. Through running into His refuge/fortress/rock/wings, being clothed in His armour. And in the strength from Him, clothed in His armor, and standing firm. (Eph 6:10-18)
I don’t want to settle any more for the false sense of escape. Instead, I choose true solace, true refuge, true comfort, true strengthening, I choose to go to Him each day, in the secret place, for these things.
“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”1 Thes 3:13
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