Lead me not into temptation – or a sketchy alleyway ATM

By:  Jana Greene

At the end of a long alleyway in my city’s otherwise very lovely downtown district there is a dumpster, a metal landing that leads to nowhere and an incongruous automated teller machine.  Or at least it advertises itself as such, what with the bold-font red printed “ATM” lettering.  When my husband and I passed it while strolling around,  I burst out laughing.

“Looks legit,” I said. He laughed too.  I took a picture of it, which really doesn’t represent the shady-factor, since I had to zoom in a good bit in order to see the “ATM: letters.  The machine is far, far down the alley.

Who would go down that path?  I suppose you might be tempted to use it if you  really needed cash and had no other way to get it.  But there are teller machines at nationally-known banks fifty feet away in either direction.

I don’t know if it is a legitimate machine or not,  because  it didn’t feel safe to venture down the alley, much less withdraw cash and have to venture back out.  It seemed very sketchy.

Going into dangerous places often feels “sketchy”.

When I first became sober, I acutely felt temptation everywhere.  The first time I made a run to the grocery store as a person in active recovery, I barely made it through one aisle before having a panic attack, because I knew that a mere six aisles away was the wine section.  By the time I passed the wine en route to the frozen foods, I finished my shopping while quietly sobbing, grieving.  It has been eleven years since that day and I have grocery shopped without incident for years – passing  the wine section like someone with a fatal addiction passes the peanut products – they are perfectly safe for most people, but not for me.

But I still don’t go into a liquor store.  It’s just a dangerous place for me.  Why risk temptation?

Another dangerous place can be my own mindset.  Sometimes in my anxiety,  I allow my mind to wander around, consulting my experience instead of my chaperone (and sponsor) Jesus.    Who would go down that path?  Me.  But in truth, my past mistakes have never held the key to coping with life on life’s terms.  So when those dark-alley thoughts appear, Jesus reins me back by reminding me that temptation never comes from Him.

Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up”.  God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way.  The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us.” – James 1:13-14

My mind is not always the best judge of what is dangerous, sometimes temptation doesn’t feel dangerous – just tempting.  What I need is never in the sketchy place; God never tries to trip me up.  It is in Him, and His good and perfect will.

The most legit place there is.