It’s 10pm and there’s a plum streusel calling me from the kitchen. I distract myself with organizing the books on my desk, trying to pretend it isn’t there. I tell myself that I shouldn’t eat desserts this late at night. I remind myself that I already had a generous piece after dinner tonight. But my stomach isn’t listening to my brain.
“Just a small piece won’t hurt, right? Think of those tart plums with the golden crumb topping, dusted with powdered sugar…”
These next two months teaching in Germany will be a real test of my will-power. This is the land of soft pretzels, crisp waffles, and baked apple streudels. How can I resist? But there are worse temptations than plum streusel.
The two young girls who came into our Bible School’s storefront property Friday night already smelled of alcohol. They had seen some of the students playing Wii Sports through the windows and wanted to see who we were and what was going on.
“We’re going to a party!” giggled the red-head. “Yeah, and I’m not drunk, I swear!” laughed her tall friend with the jet-black hair. Over cake and apple soda in the kitchen, we chatted for a few minutes, the girls’ feet dangling as they perched on the countertops.
“It’s so hard not to do drugs when all our friends are doing it,” the tall girl said. “Yeah, we only do it sometimes, but we can stop anytime,” chimed in her red-headed friend. They were only 14.
My heart ached for these girls. What could I say to them? I don’t know what their lives are like. But I do know what it’s like to struggle with temptation. I often do things I know I shouldn’t. My eyes linger on things they shouldn’t see. My lips say things I later regret. It’s easy to beat myself up about these things, thinking I just need to “try harder” and “be stronger.”
Paul’s letter to the Romans takes on new meaning for me tonight. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. …Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15, 24-25).
There’s only one solution for those 14-year-old girls. It’s the only solution for any of us when we face temptations of any kind. Only Jesus can rescue us. You CAN be set free – through the power of Jesus Christ!