When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. -James 1:13-14 (NIV)
As a child, I remember picking up a Hans Christian Andersen storybook in the school library, and in it was a short story called The Garden of Eden.
The story revolves around a prince who had all the books anyone could ever want at his disposal, but none of them told him how he could find the Garden of Eden, the place he wanted to go to the most. One night he got caught up in a terrible rainstorm while wandering in the forest, and happened upon a cave, where a deer was roasting on a spit.
An old woman in the cave turned out to be the mother of the four winds. Each came in from their flights around the world, talking about where they’d been and what they’d done. The naughty winds had to go into their mother’s bag. The last wind who came in, however, was the east wind…and he mentioned that he would be making his once-in-a-century visit to the Garden of Eden.
The next day, the prince rode on the back of the east wind, who took him to a subterranean area in the Himalayas, where the Garden of Eden was hidden. (As this story says, the Garden sunk into the earth once Adam and Eve fell to temptation.) Once there, he saw the most beautiful fairy maiden, who gave the prince a tour of the Garden…including the Tree of Knowledge.
She warned him that the east wind would not return for another 100 years, but that time would only seem like 100 days in the Garden. She let him know that he could stay forever…unless he let himself be “tempted to do the forbidden thing,” as did Adam. The prince said he would not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
She said that, each night, she would beckon him to follow her as she made her way to the Tree to sleep under its boughs. She warned that he should not follow, because with each step the tempation would grow stronger. She said that if he followed, he would bend over her, and she must smile…but if he planted a kiss on her lips, the Garden would sink into the earth once more, lost to him…and suffering would be his lot.
She also told him that the longer he resisted, the stronger he would become, until he would not heed her call any more.
On the first night, he danced with the maiden fairy, and life in the Garden was like a beautiful dream. Then, at sundown, the fairy beckoned him to follow her. You’ll have to find out for yourself to see how it ends. 🙂
In our lives, too, the longer we resist temptation, the stronger we become…but never underestimate the power we can give to temptation, and the pride we can develop in thinking we are above falling or stumbling.
Keep your eyes on the prize: eternal life in the presence of the Father. Don’t take one more step away from His designated path for you. Focus on Him and His promises, and you’ll find the siren songs get fainter as you see and hear more and more of Him.