Several years ago my dad and I went woodcutting together. It was incredible! He taught me how to use a chain saw at a time when I desperately needed a boost in self-confidence. It was empowering to wield the noisy machine and slice through the felled tree on my Aunt’s property.
We worked from opposite ends to cut the tree into eighteen-inch chunks. Then he showed me how to look for a crack in the core to place the wedge and hit it with a sledgehammer to split each round. After I split each one, he chopped the rest into firewood with his axe and we stacked the wood in the truck.
“Shouldn’t I split it more than once for you?” I asked.
“No, once you’ve compromised the integrity of the wood, it’s not hard to break the rest of it down.”
Wow! I knew what he meant by integrity: unimpaired, sound, whole. But my mind immediately jumped to the common definition of integrity: upright, honest, trustworthy, and faithful.
That’s exactly what the enemy does. He looks for our weak spots where he can set his wedge and hammers away until we break. If we give in, and our integrity is compromised, it will be much easier to succumb to temptation the next time, and the next, until we’re completely broken. Once we give in it can become the road to a tragic end. I’ve found that the best way to protect my integrity is to be aware of my weaknesses and constantly rely on God to be my strength.
Whenever I become so sure of myself that I think I’m invincible, that’s when I’m sure to blow it! God promises we’ll never be tempted more than we can bear, and when we are He will show us an escape route. All we have to do is ask.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Co. 10:12-13
Chopping firewood that day with Dad not only warmed me twice, when we did the work and when I enjoyed toasty fires that winter. It also warned me twice, by reminding me how easy it is to compromise integrity and by giving me an illustration I’ll always remember.
~ (c) Beth Vice, August 2009