Some of my closing words in a recent post on forgiveness were that to forgive is to be born. This is a beautiful thought, full of spirit. Yet the reality remains that to be born is to need and to be vulnerable. Here, in this tenuous space, the line of the prayer Jesus (Yeshua) taught His disciples, “…lead us not into temptation…” speaks.
The reason for this is because what underlies all of our temptation is the battle to look to something, anything, other than our Source, our Creator, our King. But what does a newly born babe do?
To fight independence and autonomy, being a law unto ourselves, can sometimes seem to be to fight our nature and deny our logic. But there is another option in how we view this and that is, humility, child-likeness, joy.
The truth of it, we are ripe and easy for temptation in vulnerable places like choosing forgiveness because it is in those times in our lives when we’ve tasted rejection or chosen trust over fear, or when we have felt the pain of failure—our own or our hopes in another.
Our vulnerability in this place make me think of the rocks on the side of the river bank, “vulnerable”, exposed. When the floods come again they are likely to get pulled into the strong current at one point or another and drug for who knows how far before sinking deep and settling into what will later become the sandy shore again.
It all feels like the end at the time. We’re afraid when we’re getting yanked out of place and drug in the current, displaced lying there jagged among smoother stones. It rarely occurs to us then and if it does we could barely believe we’ve been born new—not displaced but rather placed where the waters will rush over us and make us smooth too. We feel heavy and stuck. Humility doesn’t feel like another option, it feels thrust upon us. Sometimes, it is—and that too is Mercy.
And that’s where the prayer Jesus taught invites us to not only see, but live differently. We’re invited to seek and humbly ask to be saved from temptation. This prayer can call us to awareness of our own precariousness, the opportunity as well as the danger. To sincerely pray for saving from temptation we must first know we are able to be swept away by it, but wisdom invites us to humble ourselves here, not to be afraid.
What does a newborn babe do?
“But this is the one to whom I look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
A big problem we run into in so many areas of our lives is the story we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves humility is weak, but actually it is the actions we take in fear that bring weakness and fumbling. Humility that causes us to look up to our Source, to trust, brings rest…like a weaned child, even when we’re displaced, uncomfortable, or challenged.
Oh it’s hard being born, even if there is nothing more natural. And it seems to take a lifetime of rebirths to finally be able to grasp the way it’s making us, renewing us for good, for joy. James said to take joy but we have to see it’s there for the taking first, so Jesus gave us these words, this world within these words to cling to while we wait and learn how to persevere.
“…Lead us not into temptation…”
James was pleading with us to understand something so holy, it’s almost easy to miss. He said for us to let perseverance do its work so that we may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing. There it is again—wholeness is not for some day far off. It’s for us to know right here, right now. It’s for us to be held in the tender embrace of our Creator, in His womb of words and truth over, around, and beneath us, washing us, carrying us, birthing us new.
James knew this would be hard so he tells us that if we don’t get this, if we know we are lacking wisdom to run to the fount, to ask God who generously gives wisdom to anyone who asks with trust. Trust…that thing we want to make into some kind of mental activity not a physical whole-bodied one.
But what does a new born babe do?
James not only pleads but boldly offers to belay us across the dangerous terrain of choice between looking to ourself or to our Source. He says, “Do not delude yourself …Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” The aforementioned gifts? Trials.
This is the truest story of labor that every mother is meant to learn—her own path to birth—one she will need to hear and repeat to herself again and again. Because, this is what the babes know by nature and we can remember it too. Everyday we are born to this world new. What will we do with this wonder?
This is our design, we are born with purpose and meaning—not to look to our own selves, being a law unto ourselves, but rather to recognize the freedom of God within us, above us, beneath us, around us, calling us on to continual rebirth, renewal, and rest…this is the delivery—deliverance—we long for and we are invited to reach for in one simple line, “…lead us not into temptation…”
Not deluding ourselves, not lying to ourselves, not avoiding our fears, not hiding in the dark. This is our call to look ourselves in the mirror and learn the details hard, walk away into the light trusting in such a way, that we bend low in humility. Opening our hands, not tensing in lies to ourselves, not supposing the whole of the world is against us, but rather maybe for the first time acknowledging the whole of the world is for us, literally, a gift. A gift to look to our Creator, even when it is a sacrifice on our lips, and give thanks.
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“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” —J.R.R. Tolkien
All photos copyright Raynna Myers 2018, Special thanks to my model Piper Allyn.