Temptations habitually catch us unprepared and wrong footed. Weeks may pass without a ripple, then suddenly a thought will come to mind that quickly propels us towards acts that hitherto seemed unlikely. We will often notice, for example, that temptation seems to have easier access when we are tired, disgruntled, or otherwise in bad form.
This is why off-the-spot training is so vital. You don’t practice your jump shot during the game. By then it’s too late. You’ve either got it or you don’t at that point.
Same with temptation. If unprepared, the moment of testing is usually too late. It doesn’t do us much good to use techniques geared toward the moment of impact. This is where we make our mistake in our methods much of the time. It may help a little to have an escape plan, but it is much more effective to do the heart work ahead of time. (If the tree is good, then the fruit is good.)
In other words, a plan like, “When the temptation comes I will quote this Bible verse, then walk away.” Great plan. But without doing the deep digging into your soul to uproot what is happening in your heart, this approach will only go so far. Probably only as far as your will power.
If you’ve done the diligent work of habit formation, then those good habits will take over in the moments you are tired, disgruntled, or in bad form. Here we’re speaking of the habits of closeness to God that possesses a true to the core belief in His goodness, care, and provision for you in any circumstance. We must always work from the inside out.
So hopefully, when I’m at the end of my rope, my habits will remind me, “Don’t punch your daughter in the face, even though that’s what you feel like doing right now. Talk to God candidly about it because He’s right here with you in this moment, loving you and desiring to help you.”
Or something like that.
The point being, you probably won’t be able to go there (to the good place) in the difficult moment if you haven’t done your off-the-spot training.