“In our journey we frequently encounter trials and temptations that threaten to delay us, hinder us, or stop us all together. It is important to realize that these tests come in two distinct waves with different intent and different outcomes.”

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New Rules

We cross the threshold from the visible world around us to the invisible world of the spirit. There are wonders that await us, new rules to learn, trials to overcome and an ancient adversary we must contend with.

To find our true self, the person God intended us to be, we have to learn new rules, we have to accept a new way of thinking. We have to stop seeing the world the way men see it and start to see the world as God sees it.

We live in an increasingly self absorbed world. More than ever, people seem to be focused on themselves, their world of social media, entitlements, and personal fulfillment.

A good example is the world of the artist. For about 150 years now, artists have been taught that art is all about them. No one can tell them what they should do because they are artists and their art is whatever they say it is.

They are taught that art is all about self expression and finding themselves, and it is up to the world to recognize their genius. If it does not, then they are rewarded with the role of the “starving artist,” whose work will someday be recognized as revolutionary and brilliant, probably long after they are dead.

But this is a relatively new concept of art. For the majority of human history the purpose of art has been to serve a community, not the artist’s own ego.

The most important lesson we must learn in our journey, the lesson that is most at odds with the secular world we left behind, is this; It is not all about us.

We are not here to indulge in our whims, build successful careers, make a lot of money, and retire to a tropical beach where we will send our days lying in the sun and drinking margaritas. That may happen, but that is not why we are here. We are here for other people. We have been carefully created, with a unique set of talents, and placed deliberately at this point in time to help other people.

In “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is confronted by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley. The spirit of Marley suffers from the burden of sin, in this case the sin of neglecting the welfare of others.

Scrooge tells him, “but you were always a good man of business, Jacob.”

“Business!” wails Marley, “Mankind was my business, the common welfare was my business.”

This is the way we begin to see as God sees. It is a different ordering of priorities. You may still achieve material success in this life and enjoy those margaritas on the beach, but it is incidental to the purpose God meant you for.

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s pizza put it this way, “my goal is to get into Heaven, and take as many people as I can with me.”

Skills

We will need new skills to face new threats. In “The Hunger Games,” Katniss Everdeen must win over sponsors and allies while she trains to take part in the games. In “Kung Fu Panda,” Po the Panda, learns Kung Fu, preparing to face the tiger Tai Lung, who threatens the peace of Po’s world.

Our new skills comes to us as we begin to perceive the world in a different way. As we travel the path, we discover powerful weapons that the secular world abandoned long ago, self-sacrifice, courage, faith, and wisdom all wielded with humility.

This is also the time to acquire the allies we will need on our journey. We will need people and things that help us strengthen us and support us.

D’artagnan had Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, the three musketeers. Frodo has the fellowship of the Ring. Dorothy has her companions, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.

We also have to assemble our team of true companions. They might be friends sharing our journey, teachers, scholars, counselors, priests, or even books that teach us the ancient wisdom of the saints that have travelled this path before us.

Tests

Unfortunately we are not left alone while we prepare, heroes never are. In our spiritual journey this is a very vulnerable time for us. While we are learning the new rules and acquiring new skills, we are at our most vulnerable to attacks from the Adversary.

In our journey we frequently encounter trials and temptations that threaten to delay us, hinder us, or stop us all together. It is important to realize that these tests come in two distinct waves with different intent and different outcomes.

The trials we meet with are obstacles on the road. When we overcome them, they bring out the best in us. Trials are designed to test us and strengthen us. We come out of them stronger than we were before and netter prepared for what ;its ahead.

Temptations on the other hand appeal to the worst in us. Temptations seek to draw us away from the path, to distract us and make us forget the path. Temptations prey on our desire for instant gratification, ease, and comfort.

The devil sends us temptations to draw us away from the path, but God sends us obstacles, to test our resolve.

Think about the difficulties you encounter in life, particularly in your faith journey. Can you see which ones were tests to strengthen your faith and which ones were temptations to disrupt your progress? To put it another way, which difficulties brought you closer to God and which ones threatened to pull you away?

This time of Temptation, learning new rules, acquiring new skills, and facing new challenges is meant to prepare us for the next stage or our journey, Revelation.

© 2018 Lawrence Klimecki

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This post appeared originally at DeaconLawrence.org