I am a martial arts instructor. Because the sport I teach is physically active and involves a lot of skin-to-skin contact, injuries of varying degrees are quite common. I have to be prepared in what to do in the event that such an injury occurs; knowing where ice packs are, how to check for broken bones, how to wrap/elevate a sprain, protocol for informing parents about their child’s injury, etc. These things seem trivial- until that knowledge is needed. Then it is invaluable!
Last year, I learned how to handle a far more intense emergency: how to give someone CPR. I probably will never need to use the knowledge I gained during that training, but as with smaller injuries, preparation needs to happen before and just in case something does happen. I have to practice what to do to save someone from cardiac failure, because if I ever find myself in that situation, the stress of the moment will make it very difficult to take calculated and wise action on my own. I need it in my “muscle memory” so that I don’t have to think, and can simply act in the right way.
Our spiritual lives are much the same. We know we will go through trials and face temptations, but we can’t know exactly what to expect. In the stress of the moment, without knowing God’s Word like the back of our hand, we will probably forget what we are supposed to do. Without practicing obedience and turning to God’s Word in everyday circumstances, when the pressure is on, will we even want to do things His way?
I have experienced this moment quite a few times in recent months. Even in the moments when I knew what to do, because I had not been “practicing righteousness” and keeping in step with God’s Word in small things, I acted in the way my flesh wanted. I didn’t turn from temptation and run to God because my heart wasn’t prepared to. My “muscle memory” was weak, and instinct (which is wholly the flesh) kicked in.
1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
If we want to run to God’s Word when temptation and challenges arise, we must actively discipline our hearts. We have to spend time getting to know our “instruction manual”, the Bible, and talking and listening to our coach, our Heavenly Father. Only then will we be prepared to stand strong in a spiritual emergency.
Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. …give me life O
LORD, according to your word!”