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Posts Tagged ‘lust’

enticedWhat does it mean to be enticed to turn away? Intellectually, of course, I understand that to be enticed is to lured or beguiled by an expectation or hope for something better. But this phrase comes at the end of a long list of plentiful promises including a “land flowing with milk and honey” in which generations would experience fertility in their families and their land. They were promised a win-win. And yet, the warning came too and in the end, proved to be on target. Never enough.

 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. . . . Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. [Deuteronomy 11:8-9, 16, NIV]

Human beings are notorious for never being satisfied. Most of us who live in the West are prime examples. We have more than we need and we want more still. I am no stranger to this dis-ease. I am living within the norm of this culture and mind-set. Only until we travel to other countries where people walk to a pump for their water or eat the same staple food every day or die of an unchecked pandemic, do we have our eyes opened for a season.

We have it all and yet we are enticed away by the “other gods.” Do we really imagine that the mere facade of better, faster, or bigger will be the antidote to what ails us? I am ashamed at the number of times I have allowed myself to covet what others appear to have, to know, to enjoy.

Not today then. I choose to wrap myself in the armor of God’s contentment. If only for a little while, I will be mindful of “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man [person] who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.” [St. Patrick]

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This text caught me off guard today. I’ve always thought of “the world” as those “things” that suck me away from the heart of God. But it’s not the things at all. It’s the verbs in me. Just like we mistake money as evil when it’s the “love of money” that is the problem: so it is with everything else.

I John 2:16
For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man [or woman], the lust of his [her] eyes and the boasting of what he [she] has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
[NIV, 1984]

It’s my intentions, my desires, my personal cravings that drive me into the world. I see and then I want. I listen and then I desire. I remember and then I pine for the source of that memory. I am Edmund (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe).

Craving is an intense desire. Do I crave God or what God can do for me?

Among the definitions for lusting (beyond the obvious sexual context) is a “passionate or overmastering desire or craving, usually followed by a lust for power.” At my age, sex is not much of a driver, but power, well, who am I kidding if I say that has no enticement? In my head, I know it’s the antithesis of all things Christ, and yet I know it’s there, waiting for the cage door to open and spring out. I think it’s married to another secret desire I have had throughout the years: Fame. It has tainted every venture. It has muddied every project. And lust laughs every time.

Boasting has two elements: one is exaggeration and the other is pride. Hence, in subsequent translations of this verse, it is wrapped up in a single phrase, “the pride of life.” It’s simple really, like a two-year old who insists on “doing it alone.” In some ways, I can see the root of it in the disappointments of my early years where there didn’t seem to be anyone to truly guide. My mother was caught in her own web of pride and self-control. From her perspective, if she didn’t do the work, no one would. If she didn’t make it happen, it wouldn’t happen. And this “gift” she passed along with a vengeance.

Again, the head knows all of this intellectually. But the soul cries out to surrender, to trust, to let go, to accept, to embrace contentment, to engage the interior life and not the ephemeral cravings, lustings, and boastings of the ads in the New York Times, the promotions, the landscaped yards, the exquisite furniture, the honor roll students, the wine cellars, the brilliant geeks, the skinny models, the tech toys, the romances, the published authors, the movies, the stars, the travel guides, the vistas, the sailboats, the beach houses, the Old Spice man, and even the full breed dogs and cats. Stupid, right?

I want, I wish, I desire. I crave, I lust, I boast.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” [Luke 14:7-11]

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