Friday, July 10, 2009

Temptation, Guilt, and the Awesome Power of God

I've been wrestling with this nagging temptation for quite some time. By wrestling with, I don't mean the struggle of not succumbing to the temptation, the struggle not to sin, but merely the struggle of having the temptation in the first place, and of wanting it gone. Over the past few months I've felt just about every possible feeling of guilt as a result of having this temptation: I can't believe this; I thought I was passed this; this is so terrible, if people only knew, they'd think I wasn't even a Christian; I am such a horrible person; I'm obviously straying from God; try as I might to draw on his presence, I have failed. What a failure I am.

Somehow, I believed that if I kept earnestly praying for God to remove the temptation, He most assuredly would, and as long as the temptation was still there, it was an obvious sign that I didn't truly want it gone. Some part of me was failing to give this over to God. And so, in distress, I continued to pray - and felt guilty all the while. The odd thing was, the more I turned to God, the more the temptation seemed to show it's ugly face. To me, this was utterly confusing, and left me feeling frustrated and powerless.

The other day I was in the car on my way to do an errand, when a harmless bit of everyday life triggered the temptation and BAM! This huge overbearing cloud of guilt and confusion suffocated me once again. I cried out to God, and out of desperation started reciting the first verse that came to mind concerning temptation: 1Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also that you may be able to endure it. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is ... " I repeated it over and over, all the while wondering why my "memory cards" entitle this verse "Assurance of Victory," and yet, I was feeling everything but victorious.

Finally, in the midst of my frantic speech (fully out-loud, by-the-way. I'm hoping people assumed I was just one of those bad drivers talking on a speaker phone in traffic, rather than a nut-case shouting into thin air), the "still small voice" managed to reach me through my hysteria. "Is temptation a sin?" I stopped: Wait... Think about it... No, of course not. The very verse I was reciting does not even assure that God will completely remove temptation for those who ask. It assures God's power to keep us from sin as a result of temptation. After all, Jesus himself was tempted. To have temptation is NOT a sin. To act on it is - and THAT is what God promises to save us from when we draw on Him. The still small voice was suddenly louder, "Are you afraid you might act on this temptation, Bronwyn?" The question itself seemed almost ridiculous. "No way!" I confidently proclaimed. Suddenly, it seemed as though victory was mine, even in the midst of temptation. The cloud of guilt was lifted from me by the powerful hand of God. I was sure, if it weren't for my seat belt, that I would float right off my seat.

It's funny how this revelation was no big news to my intellectual self, and yet, somehow, I had allowed Satan to make me feel guilty for having temptation, as if Satan himself was the cause of my temptation, and that merely having it would keep me from God's presence. In reality, I think God allows us to have temptation in order to draw us closer to himself. The only thing Satan had the power to contribute (and the ultimate cause of my frustration and spiritual repression) was the guilt - and, at that moment, God empowered me to take that from Satan as well. Praise God!

As I thanked God for breaking me free, and as I celebrated the fact that my temptation could be used by God to draw me deeper into His presence, I was reminded of a song by one of my favourite Christian music artists, Rich Mullins. It's called Hold Me Jesus, and he wrote it after facing some pretty serious temptation when visiting the Red Light district of Amsterdam. I sang it to God, loving the fact that I could so well identify with another Christian whom I so deeply respect.

Eventually, I got to where I was going, completed my errand, and returned to my car for the drive home. I was still "floating". On the way home other thoughts of daily life started to occupy my brain, but I wasn't ready to leave the spiritual mountain top yet. Determined to stay focused, I turned my radio to Praise 106.5 - which, if you know me well, you would know is a VERY bizarre thing for me to do. Even when desiring worship music, I generally loathe that station, but anyway - I turned the volume up just in time to hear the radio announcer say, "This is Rich Mullins." I recognised the intro right away. It was Hold Me Jesus. I almost had to pull over, as I could barely see through the tears streaming down my face. It wasn't as if I needed more confirmation, but God, in His infinite love, decided to bless me with it anyway. And so, I just HAD to share this experience, as it was too overwhelming to keep to myself.

So there you have it. I am a Christian currently experiencing a great spiritual high while in the midst of nagging temptation, and I am a crazy nut-case who shouts Bible verses on repeat and sobs while driving her car.

Love to all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Only In Victoria!

Only In Victoria could no doubt be the title of a large volume of anecdotal stories, all of which would leave readers shaking their heads, laughing and/or exclaiming, "I know exactly whom you are talking about. I met him last week!" Presently, however, I desire to share but one Only in Victoria account for the sole purpose of launching into a full-fledged rant about Victorians and their insane views on "friendliness" and traffic rules. Prepare yourself.

My daughter and I were on our bike, positioned in the left turning lane of a through-street. I awaited a break in the oncoming traffic, left arm diligently extended, when, sure enough some well-meaning driver of an oncoming car stopped (in the middle of traffic - no stop sign, no light - nothing!) and started waving his arms out his open window, apparently indicating that I should go. "It's your right of way!" I shouted, to which he impatiently implored "Just go!" Meanwhile, the driver behind him had honked her horn, and was frantically trying to navigate a passage by which she could roar her SUV around the wrongly stopped vehicle, and likely plough into some cyclist less adamant about maintaining traffic laws (and my daughter's and my safety) than I. "I obey the rules of the road!" I declared, and planted both feet firmly on the pavement. Finally, the "friendly" driver ceased to be "friendly" and carried on. The SUV driver followed, and to my surprise declared "Good for you!" as she drove by. Through her open window I saw that my supporter was a fully uniformed cop. The number of times I have come across this exact situation (minus the gratifying affirmation from law enforcement) is, in my opinion, obscene.

Dear "Friendly" Drivers:
Since when have hand gestures and shouting been the proper way to determine who has the right of way at an intersection? I know we're polite Canadians who wish to be generous and all, but if we're generous at the cost of maintaining the predetermined order of proceedings, we might as well all pull over and discuss matters of how to proceed over tea and crumpets every time we encounter a potential conflict of space. I understand that there are many cyclists who do not obey the rules of the road. Drivers therefore see cyclists as unpredictable, and would sooner get them out of sight/out of mind than face the risk of sharing the road with them properly as though they were any other vehicle. I'm sure you think you are doing us a favour. You're not. Though you may think that it is obvious why you are motionless when you clearly have the right of way, it is not. Your hand gestures cannot be seen by all the cars behind you, nor the ones in other lanes, nor the ones approaching from other streets, etc. Furthermore, many of the tens of other vehicles on the road cannot see me, the cyclist. As soon as I obey your wish and do something unpredictable (i.e., stray from the governing traffic laws), I put myself in great danger. I will not do it. (But thanks anyway.) Regardless of the fact that many cyclists will probably let you down, PLEASE assume that we will all behave as regular law-abiding vehicles, and PLEASE drive accordingly. Should it happen that some reckless cyclist causes you to have an accident, I can assure you it will be to his or her loss, a price well worth it for the sake of keeping the rest of us safe on the road.

Dear "Reckless" Cyclists:
Whether you don't know the rules of road, or you simply think they don't apply to you, I'm sorry, but you deserve to be hit. What's that you say? You weren't wearing a helmet? Well, stupid is as stupid does, I guess. I know I'm being insensitive, but I'm sick and tired of people like you ruining it for the rest of us. Don't think that disobeying the rules, and riding recklessly in traffic only puts you at risk. It gives cyclists a bad name, causing cars to behave impatiently and unpredictably around us all, not to mention the extra difficulties your behaviour places on hard working lobby groups attempting to gain more rights for law abiding cyclists on the road. I see you running stop signs and red lights, swerving in and out of parked cars, and apparently suffering from a duel personality complex as you haphazardly switch between vehicle and pedestrian rights. I don't know if it's that you don't care about your safety, or, that you're ignorant, or that you're just plain stupid. Quite frankly, I don't care. Learn to ride, or get off the road (and NOT onto the sidewalk)!

Dear Road-Users-of-all-Kinds:
Whether you are in your fancy BMW, driving a semi, riding a bike, or hopping on a pogo-stick, if you are on the road, KNOW the rules of the road, OBEY the rules of the road, and if it is your right of way, shut-up and TAKE IT! If you do, we will all get to where we are going faster, not to mention in one piece!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blogging, Take 2; (Staying Committed, Take 2 000)

I have returned to blogging after a four year hiatus. I suppose one could argue that it isn't really a "hiatus" when I only succeeded in making six posts in the first place (e-hem). A lot has changed in the past four years: I now have a daughter, a business, a haircut, a bit of common sense, and *hopefully* the maturity to pace myself and stick with something for more than two weeks. (In my world, fourteen days is the "magic number," the seemingly unattainable thresh-hold beyond which lies this incredible woman who is infinitely disciplined and blissfully dedicated to all of her commitments. I hate her. Very occasionally, I meet her. She is charming, of course, but all too quickly, she disappears in the smoke of a double-ended candle that has finally burned out, leaving me to clean-up a spattering of dirty loose-ends, diapers and the dog hair off of last night's dishes.)

Should you wish to see the original six posts, they can be located at
But now, I start afresh. Wish me luck, and thank you to all those who have inspired me through their own blogs, websites, facebook notes, etc. to take up my pen (or EeePC) and start writing!