the way of escape

"...let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 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. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." -1 Corinthians 10:12-14

A few Saturdays ago I was lurking on Twitter and noticed a post by Mark Driscoll that said, "Paul says God always provides a way of escape from temptation. Preaching on it tomorrow. Got any real life examples I might share of how God opened a door of escape from serious temptation?"

I was sure I had, but couldn't think of anything at that moment, so I went about my day not really thinking about it.

That night (on my way to a church service, no less) I stopped by our massive library HQ in search of a movie hubby hadn't yet seen. Finding it wasn't there, I headed over to the new releases hoping to make the trip productive.

There I saw the box for a film I intentionally avoided this summer due to a high likelihood of, let's just say, inappropriate thought. But because I'm so familiar with the storyline and waited years for the release, I really want to see it and have struggled with and prayed about this since even before it hit theaters. Without completely thinking it through I picked it up, reasoning that I just wanted to see how they developed a particular character, grabbed another film I'd already seen (also ironic in title, but I'll spare you) and went to check out.

When I got to the counter I was told two things:
1) My library card expired last month, which I thought was weird as I haven't had the new card very long.
2) I also had a fine for $1.05, of which I was completely unaware.

Easy enough problems to address... if you can actually pay. Unfortunately (no, very fortunately) I hadn't carried any cash on me for a week or more, and I never carry checks. I literally had a quarter that I was planning to put into a coin collection. So I couldn't renew or borrow anything at all.

Then I asked what the fine was all about. I'd turned in a book late.

The book?

"Jesus Among Other Gods."

I briefly reeled inside at the mention of my Lord's name as the clerk began to read. It was a book I had trouble accessing and then didn't get to finish several months ago. By now I'd all but forgotten about that and didn't realize it was turned in late. (Ha, and apparently was due on my birthday last year.) I just acknowledged to the clerk that I'd have to deal with all this later and headed out with no movies. Laughing. I couldn't have scripted this.

I laughed in the car on my way up the road. I laughed as I shared this story later with friends who were aware of the situation from summer.

But in the next few days I really started thinking about what God did there. He closed doors. He provided the way of escape. He protected me from what I imagine would have required some serious repentance, and quite possibly long term problems as it may have either encouraged old, inappropriate thought patterns or created new ones. (Never think your thoughts don't matter ... Matthew 5:21-28; 15:10-20.) I don't even want to think of potential consequences from that. And He answered prayer, as I have asked His help and guidance in protecting me from such things before, since it's only by Christ's power I can and will "flee from idolatry" (anything that takes focus off God, thus becoming more important than Him).

I've said it before, I truly love the Lord's sense of humor. But eventually I stopped laughing, got on my knees, repented for my lack of judgment and thanked my Deliverer for His love and mercy in stopping me.

My life doesn't hinge on whether or not I spend 2 hours in fantasy land watching new people enact old tales I already know. My life is all about God's glory. He wasn't going to be glorified through me watching that film that day. But by sharing this story of His protection and love, I sincerely pray He is.

I'd say that brief trip to the library was more than a little productive.

Thank you, Lord.

February 1 Follow Up:
Just paid my fine and renewed my card for 2 years. Before I went, I promised I wouldn't even pick the film up. So I went over to check out the new releases. Would you believe that particular movie was nowhere to be found anyway?

I love how this story just keeps on going, and the Lord shows His goodness and glory in His protection at every turn.

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