We all have hooks, or traps, in our lives. Usually we come face to face with these during some of the hardest times we in our lives. Some people deal with alcoholism or drug addictions. Some people are more subtle and seek comfort food.
No matter what your hook is in your life, I think we have all faced one of the other in some trying times. For me, I love some comfort food. I know it’s hard to imagine given my finely tuned athletic physique but its not my biggest hook by far. The biggest trap for my life has always been gambling.
At the age of 13, I was introduced to gambling with a $3,300 win in a local poker game. For a 13 year old, that was equivalent to hitting the Powerball Lottery. Ever since the day, the taste and pursuit of easy money has set a hook in my life. When times get tough financially for me, I have that hook tugging and saying lets wager! At the age of 21, I sat in Tunica, Mississippi and turned $500 to over $10,000. I have had some similar successes in sports betting and in Las Vegas with blackjack. It is a huge trap for me when times get tough or I feel backed into a corner. When the pressure mounts or I become fearful financially, gambling has always been the initial route that my mind wanders and a few weeks ago, it wasn’t much different.
A little over a year ago my wife and I started our own business, Knoxville Auto Brokers, Inc. Our first quarter was decent this year but then sales slowed in April, May, and currently in June are still sputtering and there still is a hook that says lets make a run at a table and wager.
I’m not real sure what trap or hook is in your life. Lets just be candid for a minute. For many men, it’s porn. In fact, one of the fastest growing demographics, in any industry is women and pornography. Currently it’s a multi billion dollar industry. We seek this out because we want to escape our reality in whatever situation is pressuring us. Whether its financially or career pressure. Whether its our marriage is struggling or our kids going bonkers. We turn to comfort food, drugs, alcohol, or some sort if addiction that completely grips our lives at all costs.
But what if we could shift our mindset? What if we could change the course of our default reactions? What if, together, we could beat an addiction? What if we can take our mind hostage and our thoughts captive?
Not only do I think it’s possible, I think we are able to do it by looking at definitive stories and examples in the bible. Allow me to chase a rabbit trail for a moment. I believe the bible is the living, breathing, infallible Word of God. I also believe it is a collective encyclopedia of stories of people who spent time with God, made mistakes, had successes, fought battles, and experienced victories. From that, I believe that we, as followers of Christ can dig into the bible and learn from what others have done. We can learn from mistakes that others have made and follow paths of success by looking at paths that others had taken which all brings me to the story of Jehosophat.
The story picks up in 2 Chronicles 20:1-2. There were several armies that declared war on King Jehoshaphat. Messengers came and told the king of this and, look at verse 3. I love how the New Living Translation describes it. “Jehoshaphat was terrified…” Your version may read, Jehoshaphat was alarmed or Jehoshaphat was afraid. The Bradley James Version would read, Jehoshaphat was scared out of his mind (with thirteen exclamation points)!
Have you ever received some news and became afraid. Have you became terrified or alarmed? Have you ever taken a step back, looked at your circumstances and was scared out of your mind? I think there is a point in all our lives that each and every one of us have. But what’s our next step? For many of us, it’s a trap. It’s a hook in our life. Whether its cutting ourself. Whether its bellying up to a local bar or scoring some drugs, opening a website that you shouldn’t be opening… Whatever it is, it’s something that gives a temporary satisfaction so we can escape our current reality and circumstances. But, but, big but what if there was another reaction we could create? And what if that created reaction just became habitual? Well, I believe we can and that is my hope. Lets look at the rest of verse 3.
I’m switching versions here so don’t freak out “type A” people. It’s not a big deal. Settle down. Verse 3, ESV: “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and he set his face to seek The Lord…” If we don’t take anything else away from this we must learn one thing. I think this is the most crucial step in creating good habits in our lives and cutting the line attached to the various hooks in our lives. Throughout the bible it talks about many people, including Jesus, doing this and it’s what Jehoshaphat did. We must learn to set our face to seek The Lord. ESPECIALLY in our toughest times.
Have you ever tried to do something that you haven’t “set your face” on? I know it’s an old saying and somewhat outdated but try it. When you get home try cooking without ‘setting your face’ to the stove. Better than that, try grilling! Let me know how that works. You going to the lake this weekend? Try jumping in without setting your face to where you are landing. Just let me know. Email me at ImAMoron@bradhensley.com.
Jehoshaphat set his face to seek The Lord. The imagery of this that comes to mind, for me, is when trainers are working with horses. Whether they are training for parades, big events, and even racing, they begin with blinders one. With horses, trainers have to apply blinders on either side of the horses head. The single, only job of the blinders is to keep the horse’s focus straight ahead. The blinders eliminate two things. One, the blinders eliminate things that scare the horse. Two, they eliminate things that distract the horse. I think this imagery is very symbolic of what this is talking about with Jehoshaphat.
We must get to a point in our lives, like King Jehoshaphat, where we strap on our blinders, eliminate the distractions, block out the fears, and set our face to seek The Lord.
What about you? In the next few weeks I’ll blog more about setting healthy boundaries and surrounding yourself with people that will keep you accountable, support you, and push your relationship with God to the next level but for now, how are you doing? I wholeheartedly think that we have three stages our life for each and every one of us. We are either: just getting out of the trap, coming up on a trap or completely trapped.
Maybe you are reading this blog and you are completely trapped right now. Or maybe you are in a good spot in your life where everything is smooth sailing. Either way I want propose a question no matter where your life is in that process. Can you identify the traps in your life? Can you see when your life begins to be overwhelming, what your temptations are? I can guarantee you one thing, the enemy knows what they are… These traps will be set your entire life while on earth. You can be like me, for the majority of my life, and choose to take the path that is laced with traps and desperately try to navigate your way through the danger or we can admit that we are exhausted and, like King Jehoshaphat, we can choose to set our face to seek The Lord.
Throughout my life I have risked everything gambling only to gain mounds of debt and, as the bible states, years of slavery to that debt. While gambling, I have lied to my family, stole, cheated, misled, amongst other things I am sure that I have forgotten over the years but none of them gave me any hope of getting out of the trap. Looking back, I now realize it only set the hook deeper as the trap became more dangerous and more costly.
But now I am on the forefront of this process. I’m still staring down this trap-laced path with the thought, “Should I Wager or Worship?” Today, for me, it’s not a choice any longer. Like King Jehoshaphat, I choose to worship and I want to encourage you to do the same. I want to encourage you to join me and just worship a God that created you and I for a greater purpose than the trivial, mundane, temporary trials that we go through. He created us to be ambassadors for Him. To share His good news and face these trials with a full steam ahead knowing that he has already fought the battle and its not ours to worry about.
Where are you with your traps? Do you have any? Do you have people to lean on when you are tempted with them? Let’s chat about it.