Every now and then I crave pizza. Yummy, hot, sink-my-teeth-into doughy crust pizza. I make my own dough when I have the time. The pizza is large enough that after I cut it into slices (square slices because my large tray is rectangular) I have 6-8 slices I can wrap and freeze for later.
The past three weeks I have REALLY been craving pizza. Not my own mind you, but one from a local business. Mmmm, Pizzza kept invading my thoughts. Several times I talked myself out of turning into the parking lot as I drove past the eatery, giving myself positive affirmation each time I resisted the temptation.
Then one by one ‘things’ came in. Stacking up and onto a schedule and responsibilities that I had just sorted through. Reworking my schedule, extra trips to the doctors for Mom, a paint job unfinished, more snow shoveling, sad yet expected news … tired, anxious, maybe a bit lonely, I noticed I was hungry. Or at least I thought I should be hungry and therefore I was hungry. PIZZA sounded AMAZING! and not just any pizza but – ohhhh yea… you know…
I did my best to talk myself out of ordering. It’s cold; do you really want to get in the car and drive there; you could make 3 homemade pizzas for what this will cost;… I dialed and ordered. “Okay, before I begin eating, I’ll wrap half of it and put it in the freezer,” trying to convince myself that the temptation was not going to consume me. (yes, consume).
Nope, I succumbed to temptation. I knew better. But the temptation “got the better of me.”
And that’s what temptation does and how it works. Temptation is not necessarily evil or bad. It is invasive and persuasive. Working it’s way in when we are worn-down and vulnerable. The more worn-down the more invasive. The more vulnerable the more persuasive. And it’s not like we don’t know it because, we do. When we are so tired we can’t think, temptation comes. When we are so lonely anyone’s company, anyone’s attention will do… that’s temptation whispering. When we are so angry or anxious that we say or do things we normally wouldn’t… You get the picture
A popular acronym used in recovery programs is H.A.L.T. = Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired.
Temptation seeps in when we are Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired. The message is HALT!
HALT! Stop. Step back. Breathe. Take time to recognize and claim you’re H.A.L.T. Reconsider your decision.
Luke 4:1-13, the Gospel lesson assigned to this first Sunday of Lent year C, tells the story of Jesus’ very human temptations for power, wealth, and control. Hungry, anxious (discerning more likely), lonely, tired, Jesus called upon God’s Presence and Promise to fight back each temptation placed before Him. Filling His hunger with the Presence of God. Filling is mind with the Word and Promises of God. Speaking it out loud gave Jesus the strength and courage to say, “HALT!” “NO!”
Jesus didn’t escape temptation and neither do we. Jesus showed us how to stave off temptations by keeping our minds and hearts on the promises of God. The Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:7-15) begins by placing God center in our lives. God’s ways will not wear us down or wear us out. “Lead us NOT into temptation…” God’s Promises, Will for Life, leads us away from temptations that cloud our thoughts and zap us of our energy, our passion for life. God’s mercy and presence can deliver us from the evil we may do when we are Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired.
Right now, most of the world is H.A.L.T. = Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired – open to all kinds of temptations. We are witnesses to the pain and devastation. Do not be afraid. Like Jesus, Name it. Claim it. Proclaim it. Invite God’s Presence and Promises into your weary heart and exhausted thoughts. Breathe God in as you wrestle with the choices before you.
And perhaps the best part, at least for me, is when we are too worn-out and tired, and we do give in to temptation – God’s promised Grace and unfailing Love are there to sustain us. AMEN.
Hope & Peace,