Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tempted beyond what you are able

Has anyone heard about the man who could resist anything except temptation?

"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, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

...but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it...

There is a small problem with that scripture. I know there was a problem for me anyhow. For a long, long time I didn’t want any way of escape. No, I wanted the temptation and what came along with it in most cases.

It was not until my eyes were truly opened as to the necessity and importance of taking the means of escape after having a born again experience before getting out of the Army in 1979 that the truth of that scripture would be revealed to me.

The problem with the scripture is that most people really don’t want a means of escape for many of the sins that might beset them. I was no exception. Yet this Tall Tale will tell the story of a time I sincerely wanted the way of escape and consistently attempted to take it while the door to my escape was consistently slammed in my face until I was about to be tempted beyond what I was able to endure.

I had two primary sins that I regularly engaged in at every convenient opportunity prior to being born again:
1) sexual promiscuity and 2) drunkenness.

The Lord would begin to seriously work with me on overcoming my sexual promiscuity shortly after being born again. He would not completely deliver me from being a drunkard until several years after my born again experience. But that too, He would eventually tackle before He allowed me to get married. Except for my heart wanting to follow Jesus for all it's worth, I did not change overnight. It has been an on going process where He continually amazes me.

This scripture:

"Drink water from your own cistern
     And fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
     Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone
   And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
     And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
     Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
     Be exhilarated always with her love.
For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress
   And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?"
Proverbs 5:15-20

helped me to commit myself to secondary virginity and tell the Lord that I did not want to sleep with another woman until she was my wife. I was laughed at by some friends back in those days who thought I was crazy since we were in the age of the sexual revolution and everyone (at least it seemed everyone) prized scoring. No one respected the marriage bed any longer it seemed.

In overcoming my proclivity to promiscuity the Lord first taught me to learn to recognize the situations that tended to get me into trouble and just not put myself into them. Second He taught me that if I found myself in a situation that tended to get me into trouble the means of escape was usually as simple as just walking out the front door and removing myself.

Whoa Lord! That babe sure looks good! Why would anyone in their right mind want to escape from this?

I have had some slips along the way, but the Lord has always been diligent to discipline me when necessary and show me why I should respect the marriage bed. Some men think it makes them more masculine to score outside the marriage bed, but God has taught me that it was my immaturity that allowed me to disrespect the marriage bed and I would not become a mature man until I had learned to respect it.

I would take up my commitment once again after each slip and He would help me to do better as He led me on the road to overcoming my weakness and becoming mature. That doesn’t mean temptations still don’t occasionally come my way, but now like Him he helps me to discern good from evil and helps me to have enough sense to choose good and refuse evil. It is not always easy, but it is always good and so much better than the promiscuity and the problems that came with it that I knew in my past.

There was a man involved in my born again experience who heard the first confession I made in many, many years (I had not gone since leaving parochial school in the eight grade when I started experimenting with drinking and building up a huge mountain of sin). This man told me that I could not expect any relationship to work out until I got things right with God first. And they never did work for some reason or another until I did finally get things right with God and finally entered a marriage with my secondary virginity fully intact. “Thank you Peter for that piece of advice so, so, many years ago. The Lord truly used you to help me obtain a very precious gift. I’ll never forget.”
My Wife

I didn't even know this girl could sing when I asked her to marry me.
If I was a Doolittle Lynn she would be famous by now. But, we're just plain ole married folks, and I think it agrees with us.
I asked her to write me a country song once to submit to a Country Music Song Writing Contest. She came up with Old Fashion Man
She has certainly kept her end of the bargain in the lyrics she wrote.
I love you Babe! Thank you from the depths of my heart!
And thank You Jesus for telling me to ask that girl to marry me...
I'm glad I had enough sense to listen.

Anyhow on to the Tall Tale...

After getting out of the Army in 1979 I went to work for PHI (Petroleum Helicopters Inc.) The job involved flying offshore for seven days followed by seven days off. I sometimes wonder if I had something more worthwhile to do on my days off if I would have stayed longer in that job. I have a friend I was in the Army with that went to work for PHI about the same time I did who is still flying for them last I knew.

I worked for PHI for only a year before I quit and hired on with Rocky Mountain Helicopters so I could fly in the mountains where my first love of flying was developed. Working for Rocky was seasonal work.

I took on the task of helping my favorite cousin avoid his miscreant drug involved friends during the off season . I got my cousin to come and spend some time with me at my mom’s house 45 minutes from his home town. We were working on a project to develop a trailer park. Half way through the week of his visit after a long days work my cousin looked at me and said, “Cuz I need to use your car tonight.”

Years after this story took place I called my cousin after my son totaled my car a few short years ago. He told me, “Cuz, I totaled 14 cars on my daddy’s insurance.”

I did not know the complete number those many, many years ago when he told me he needed to use my car, but I did know he was prone to wreck and he could have had a MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) yesterday and if he drove today he was the odds on favorite to be involved in the next MVA.

I thought about his request. I also thought that I had been keeping him corralled up pretty tight and I probably needed to allow him some recreation time. I said a quick silent prayer about his request and felt to allow him his request. After he departed I prayed even harder that he would return safely. And, he did.

We put in another good days work the next day. When our days work was complete and we had returned to my mom’s house and gotten cleaned up he once again said, “Cuz, I need to use your car again.”

This time I felt warning bells going off in my head. I silently prayed about what I should do. I felt the Lord tell me to once again allow him to use my car, but I should invite myself along as the designated driver. This was in the days before anyone ever talked about using designated drivers.

I said, “Cuz, that will be fine but I need to go with you.”

Although I had once loved running the bars and stuff, my cousin knew I had changed and no longer expressed much interest in placing myself in situations where I could get into trouble.

He looked at me with a big grin, “Cousin! I didn’t think you were interested. Come on!” he said.

I just shrugged my shoulders at the not interested comment and said, “Lets go.”

We headed to a restaurant in Baton Rouge his home town and had supper with a large crowd of his old friends consisting of males and females. In the group was a women I had once had a relationship with. After supper most of us headed to a bar way out in the woods somewhere. The woman I had previously known went too.

At the bar I ordered one beer to slowly sip through the night so I wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. I found me a comfortable spot at the bar to nurse my beer and observe the denizens of the night. The woman came beside me and struck up a conversation.

She was interested in me giving her a ride home. I explained that my cousin and I had a project we were working on and really needed to head to Hammond, my home town, when the events of the evening were over so we could work the next day. I told her there was a group that would be heading to Baton Rouge that she should ride with. She worked on me all night trying to convince me to give her a ride. I tried to convince her that I couldn’t.

With every attempt to take the way of escape, the devil would do his best to just slam the door in my face. Over and over again. My resolve and my heart were being tested. God was observing the seriousness of my commitment.

My cousin tied up with some old buddies and got into quaaludes and no telling what else. It was obvious that he would not have been in any condition to drive. If I had not invited myself along I could have been going to a funeral at worst or easily had a totaled car at best.

I fortunately still have the enjoyment of my cousin’s friendship to this day.

Finally the bar was closing at approximately 2am for the remainder of the night. I made my last argument to the woman that she really needed to ride with the car heading to Baton Rouge so that my cousin and I could head to Hammond so we could get some work in after getting a little sleep. To my amazement and gratitude she did go join up with the group heading to Baton Rouge.

I gathered up my cousin and helped him to my car and tossed him in the back totally debilitated by the drugs his so called friends had given him. Bonnie, the woman interested in me providing her a ride home climbed into the car heading to Baton Rouge.

The Baton Rouge bound car headed out the parking lot first. I cranked my car to pull out. Before the Baton Rouge bound car made it 100 feet down the road out of the parking lot, it came to a screeching halt. A door opened and Bonnie climbed out and stomped over to my car. I rolled down my window. She pronounced loudly, “I just can’t ride with them.”

God! I’d been fighting this battle all night. I had thought I had successfully crossed the finish line when she climbed into the car heading to Baton Rouge. I was wore out and tired of fighting with her, so I finally gave in and said, “Okaaay, come on and get in. I’ll give you a ride.”

When she got into the car the radio had already been set to some nice music. The ambiance was ripe for seduction. She smiled. I started to deliberate in my mind how I would handle what I now faced.

Would I take her home and just drop her off then immediately head back toward Hammond? It was already late and this extra trip out of the way would add more delay to the sleep I knew my cousin and I needed to function adequately the next day.

The thought occurred that maybe it would be better to sleep on her couch and head to Hammond after getting some sleep.

It was kind of nice having her sit next to me. My flesh started talking to me. “Wouldn’t it be nice to lay in a bed next to a nice warm body? You don’t have to do anything.” I was getting in over my head. Who was I fooling, “You don’t have to do anything.” God knew that if I got myself into that situation I would be tempted beyond what I would be able to endure.

I finally decided that I would simply cross that bridge as to what to do when I got to it, and I quit my deliberations. Though God knew I was on my way to being in over my head beyond what I was able to endure, he also saw that I had been diligent in my attempts to take the way of escape. I didn’t know it, but the outcome was now in His hands. Is He truly serious about providing the way of escape along with the temptation? Usually it is a simple solution if we would only do it. Walk out the front door, get new and better friends, don't put yourself into precarious situations, etc.

Her riding in the other car didn’t end up being my way of escape. I would know one way or the other before this story was concluded whether God was true to His word or not.

I told Bonnie, “You need to navigate. I don’t know my way around Baton Rouge.”

She said, “Okay” with a smile.

Our route took us to the “T” intersection of Siegen Lane and the Airline Hwy.

View Larger Map

Siegen Lane is or was a two lane road way back then while the Airline Highway is a large four lane thoroughfare. There was a stop sign and a no left hand turn sign. I stopped at the stop sign and asked Bonnie, “Which way do we need to go?”

She said, “Left.”

My past experiences driving in big cities were that if you turned right when you needed to go left you might have to drive for no telling how many miles before you could turn around and get headed in the right direction.

It was now between 3 and 4am in the morning. We were the only car on the road. I couldn’t see another headlight anywhere. So I reasoned that it would do no harm to make the illegal left hand turn; which I did.

Shortly after making the illegal left hand turn onto the Airline Highway off of Siegen Lane I passed a sign saying, “Louisiana State Trooper Station ‘A’”. When I saw that sign I felt those warning bells going off in my head again. I looked in my rearview mirror, and sure enough the blue lights were flashing and heading my way.

I pulled to the side of the road. A Louisiana State Police car pulled up and parked just in front of me. The State Trooper got me out of my car after taking a good look at its occupants. My cousin was still passed out and Bonnie was riding shotgun. In that day and age designated drivers where unheard of. I have no doubt now that the cop thought he had a bonafide DUI stop. He got me out of my car and led me to just in front of his car where he gave me a field sobriety test.

I wasn’t drunk and I knew it. I figured we would be out of this situation in short order. As he administered my field sobriety test he also worked on filling out my ticket for the illegal left hand turn. I might have been a little punch drunk having been up so long which made me a little talkative but not excessively. I had been stopped before and even taken to police headquarters where they gave me time to sober up in the old days. I believe law enforcement is much tougher on DUI these days than when I was a kid and justifiably so after seeing the carnage from my EMS pilot days. Getting behind the wheel while under the influence is one of the most stupidest things a person can do next to texting while driving. My how times change. I am guilty of being extremely stupid in my past. I’m also amazed that I managed to dodge so many bullets I probably justly deserved, but on this night I knew I was good to go. I just had to run through the hoops and get out of there.

When I completed my field sobriety test the cop said, “I’m going to have to take you to the station and give you a breathalyzer.” That didn’t bother me. I knew I was going to pass.

This seems a little strange, but there is a scripture that says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 I had ridden in the back of cop cars before, but I had never been handcuffed and a small strange desire of my heart was to know what that was like.

When the cop told me he was going to take me to the station I asked him, “Are you going to put the handcuffs on me?”

He said, “Yeah, turn around.”

As I turned around he placed his ticket book on the hood of his car and removed his handcuffs. He soon had me cuffed and escorted me to the back door of his car and secured me inside. So there I was, handcuffed and locked in the back of a Louisiana State Police car.

In the meantime my cousin had aroused from his drug induced stupor and had exited my automobile. He was now arguing with the cop at the front of his car, “Come on officer... Why don’t you just let us go?” I was locked up in the back of the cop car witnessing this. Then I see Bonnie start hoofing it down the side of the highway away from the scene. My discernment is telling me the cop is not dealing with these two too well and that I needed to help him so we could go get this over with, but I’m handcuffed and secured in the back of a State Police car. What’s a man to do?

I told myself I needed to get out of the car and help this man get Bonnie and my cousin under control so we could get this over with and be on our way. But how was I going to do that?

I looked for the door handle. To my surprise it was still installed. On my previous rides they had been removed. I said to myself, “That’s not supposed to be there.” As I continued to tell myself they must be disabled someway. But, I needed to find out. So, I turned so my handcuffed hands could grab the door handle and pull. Off course the door didn’t open.

I then told myself, “Must be locked” as I looked for the door locking pin. To my continued surprise the door locking pin was still there. I said, “That has got to be disconnected” as I leaned forward and twisted around so that I could get my handcuffed hands on the pin and pull.

The pin popped up. I then grabbed the door handle again and pulled. The door opened!

I climbed out to the shock and surprise of one already overwhelmed police officer attempting to deal with my cousin and Bonnie.

He pointed at me and with all the authority he could muster he commanded, “You! Get back in that car now!”

I said, “I am. I just came out here to help you with these two so we can get this over with.” I then said, “Cuz, Bonnie! Y’all come on and get in this car so we can go get this over with.” They both listened to me like they were good little children.

It was a short ride to the police station. The four of us climbed out of the police car and headed to the entry door of the station together. As we walked I looked at Bonnie. The anger at her plans and expectations being shattered by this turn of events started to manifest on her face as she drew back her hand to strike. The cop noticed also and attempted to stop her with out success. She slapped me hard across the face while I was still handcuffed.

The cop with concern said, “Don’t do that!”

I could feel the Holy Spirit on me that whole evening. It was a peace that is indescribable to those that have never experienced it. I said to the cop, “It’s alright.” Then I said to Bonnie, “If you need to hit the other side, there it is; help yourself”.
Her anger had been relieved some with the first slap, so she did not administer another.

As we entered the station the arresting officer made some comments to the officer behind the desk and then told my cousin and Bonnie to remain up front while he escorted me to the back where the breathalyzer machine was.

It didn’t take long to get the results and the cop started scratching his head with confusion. With a puzzled look he asked me, “Have you been doing any drugs?”

When he asked that question I then told him what I did for a living (flying helicopters)and that if he thought I was doing any drugs that I wanted to have a blood test done to get this resolved now. He let the issue go as he led me back up front. I was expecting to get my car back along with my ticket for the illegal left hand turn.

As we were approaching the front I saw Bonnie heading out the front door. I told the cop, “That girl is fixing to run off again.”

He said, “We’re not holding her for anything. She is free to do what she wants.”

I then muttered under my breath, but loud enough for him to hear, “Well I told you.”

At the front desk they asked me if there was anyone I could call to come and get us. Evidently I wasn’t going to get my car back. My speculation is the cop thought he had a sure thing and called the tow truck driver before knowing for sure. Who could I call? The first person that came to mind was my dad, but before saying anything I thought about the six years I had already spent on active duty in the Army and told myself that I would rather spend the night in jail than bother my dad at that time of the morning for something like this. So I initially told them nobody. Then I thought of Willie. He was the husband of one of my high school english teachers whom I was close enough friends with that I knew their number off the top of my head.

I said, “Call this number: (###)###-####. Willie will come and get me. The officer behind the desk dialed the number then said, “Busy. Must be off the hook”.

I said, “Well, call the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office. They will contact Willie on the radio and he will come and get me.”

The cop hung his head like he didn’t hear a word I said. I didn’t push the point. These men simply had a job to do and even if I didn’t understand why they were doing it the way they were, it wasn’t my place to give them any added grief. My speculation is that it is one thing for a lay person to come and pick someone up and another for one of their peers to make the trip. I could see Willie asking, “How’d he do on his breathalyzer? Now why did you make me come get him?”

After it was decided that there was no one immediately available to come and get us, the cop that initially brought us in walked out side and looked for Bonnie who was no where to be found. He then spent maybe 45 minutes driving around looking for her without success spending our tax payer money which wouldn’t amount to even a drop in the bucket compared to what is wasted in this day and age. Maybe a drop in the ocean.

The cop returned and told the cop behind the desk that he still needed to go and search my car. I had brought my bible with me that night and if I was going to spend time in jail, it would be nice to have something to read, so I told the cop it was on my front seat and if I was going to have to stay in jail it would be nice to have something to read if he would be kind enough to bring it to me.

The cop left for awhile and returned without my bible. The cop behind the desk asked him if he found anything. He said, “Nope nothing there. Just that bible he asked me to get.”

My cousin was pretty messed up. He was zonked out on a bench in the station, and slowly started to arouse. He dropped 15 cents on the floor consisting of a dime and a nickel. One of the cops told him to pick it up. He got down on his hands and knees to comply and froze with one hand floating inches above the money. I left him like that for about 10 minutes as I joked and visited with the two officers. Finally I decided to show my cousin a little mercy and I helped him off the floor and back to a sitting position on the bench. He slowly stirred more. Finally he made it to his feet. One of the cops asked him if there was anyone he could call to come and get us.

It took him twenty minutes to get his daddy’s phone number out of his head. The cop made the call and my uncle was soon on his way. When he walked through the door he was surprised to see me. He said, “David, what are you doing here?”

I said, “I’ll tell you about it.” We were free to go.

My uncle told me that when the phone rings at that time of the morning it is usually one of two things, either a black man with the wrong number or his miscreant son who is my favorite cousin needing to be gotten out of jail. My uncle retired as president of City National Bank in Baton Rouge. My cousin came from a good family. Seeing children safely through takes a lot of prayer from someone. I know my cousin and I have both had our share for which I am grateful.

Once at my uncle’s house we slept until about mid morning. Then my uncle took us to get my car. My cousin felt guilty since it was his need to get out that put us in the predicament even though I made the illegal left hand turn, so he paid the towing fee.

We returned to the State Police Station to retrieve my keys. The two officers were still on duty. I asked the officer who took me in if I could ask him a couple of questions. he said, “okay”.

I first asked, “If that girl would have gone off and gotten hurt or worse killed, who’s fault would it have been?”

He said, “Nobody”.

I said, “Well if you go out drinking with some of your buddies and one of them starts to overdo it, are you going to stick close to him and try to keep him out of trouble or will you let him go off on his own where it is easier for him to get into trouble?”

He didn’t have a response.

We left with my keys and my ticket with a court date for the illegal left hand turn.

At the towing yard after paying and being directed to my car I was the first one inside. There on the center pedestal in plain view was a joint. The cop had searched my car. I can only suppose one of two things:

1). He placed it there on purpose as a calling card, “See there boy! We could have had you if we really wanted you.” I can only imagine the consequences if I had been more of a smart aleck. Flight school taught me to “aviate, navigate, cooperate, and graduate.” I see no reason to hassle cops trying to do a difficult job, and I support good honest law enforcement. If someone is involved in wrong doing, I think eventually it will catchup to them and they will reap what they have sown.

2). He actually found it on the floor or something where my cousin could have lost it and placed it on the center pedestal as if to say, “Oops boy! You better be careful who you hang with. We could have had you and maybe should have had you after finding this, but maybe you were trying to do something new, different, and novel with this designated driving stuff. So you’ve been given a break, and I just want you to know it.”

Wow! Who knows. I’m just grateful for all the mercy I’ve been shown in my life, and I’m grateful I didn’t lose my cousin for good that night which could have been a real possibility if I had sent him off by himself.

If I would not have gotten stopped, if I would have quickly gotten my car back immediately and we would have been released I would have still been in over my head beyond what I might possibly could have endured. God knew it. I’m confident He had that evening orchestrated with my ultimate way of escape planned and a Tall Tale in the making. He proved to me that night that if I really, really, really want a way of escape that He is true to his word and will provide it if it is not easily and readily accessible to me. One thing He won’t do though is force me to go through it if my heart is not willing.

There is still a little more to this tall tale...

I had a ticket and a court date for an illegal left hand turn offense. I also had a job in Alaska that needed me there before the court date. Kinda hard being in two places at one time. I needed the job in Alaska a lot worse than a court date.

An interesting thing happened with this traffic stop that had never happened to me previously. The officer did not have me sign the ticket stating that I agreed to show up in court on the designated date. I believe the reason he failed to have me sign the ticket was because of that little strange desire of my heart I mentioned previously. When I asked him if he was going to handcuff me he placed his ticket book down and cuffed me right away. That question and subsequent handcuffing of me distracted him just enough to break his focus on completing the ticket and having me sign it.

I headed to Alaska for the job I needed more than a court date, but when I got into Alaska one of the first things I did was write this cop a letter.

I told him I did not feel bad about not showing up in court since he didn’t make me sign the ticket. But I wrote that I was guilty of the illegal left hand turn and wanted to do whatever I needed to take care of the ticket. I asked him to write me back and tell me what that would be. I told him if he wasn’t able to handle this to please pass this letter on up the ladder to someone who could.

I received an official letter back from someone obviously higher up on the ladder that told me to sign an enclosed statement acknowledging my guilt and to send the signed statement along with a money order for a designated amount of money back to the return address. I did all that.

About two months later I received the money order back with a letter that said, “All charges dropped!”

How awesome is that!

I know from this experience and others that if I sin it is because I want to and don’t have enough sense not to, or I am too ignorant in a particular situation to know that I need to take the way of escape. One other thing before I go for today, just because you are tempted does not mean that you have sinned. It is what you do with that temptation. “To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” James 4:17. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” I believe this scripture is referring to Jesus and if we seek Him with our whole heart, mind, and soul He is able to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I find life way more enjoyable on this side than the old side before Jesus got ahold of me.

Well, there you have it... my Tall Tale for today.
I hope you enjoy it... ciao!

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