There is a difference between real pleasures and the pleasures that come from temptation. Real ones lead to life where as the ones that are provided by temptation lead to death. Real pleasures leave you fulfilled. Ones we experience because we gave into temptation leave us with wanting more. It’s almost as if we can’t exist without the sinful ones, at least that’s the place they take us too.
Real pleasures come not because you do something to get them. They come because your eyes are open to God’s work around you. Real pleasures are the simple things in life. Like our letter today points out, it’s the reading of a book just for the pleasure of it or a walk to a familiar place, alone. It’s found in the enjoyment of having tea at an “old mill”. It’s the real experiences of a pure life, that leave you feeling good, instead of unsatisfied.
This letter reminds me of a story I heard onetime about a town where a “witch” of sorts gained a position of power in the city. She would offer people anything they wanted if they would just give her a small, tiny piece of their souls. It didn’t seem like to much of a price so the people did it. They would come to her, ask for something and she would give it to them and they would give her a tiny piece of their souls.
Time and time again, once the pleasure ran out of the thing they asked for they would go back and ask for something else. Each time she would grant their request and they would give them one more tiny piece of their soul. Before long she had conquered them and left them in the darkness of their own desires.
(This is exactly how temptation pleasures are.
You give in to them…
sin in the process…
and give a piece of your soul away until you are conquered and left in your own darkness.)
One day the witch was out for a walk in the woods and she heard laughter. But not laughter of her making but a pure innocent laughter that burned her soul. So she followed the sound to a field where a young girl was playing. The girl was chasing butterflies but never catching any.
After a while of watching her the witch approached the child and said. “Hello, you are a very lovely girl”.
“Thank you”, the girl replied.
“I have noticed you have not been able to catch a butterfly yet.”
“No I haven’t “, the girl giggled as she ran after another butterfly in the field.
The witch approached her again and said, “wouldn’t you like a butterfly to just come and sit in your hand so you can touch it?”
“That would be great but I haven’t been able to catch one yet” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Well, I have the power to make one land in your hand.”
“You do?!” the girl said “thats pretty neat!” then she ran after another butterfly that had just passed in front of her face, giggling as she went.
The witch watched as the child ran, giggled and ran, becoming more sick to her stomach with each sound of joy. When the girl set down to rest a moment the witch sat down beside her and asked in a sweet tone “would you like me to tell one to land in your hand? It’s really awesome to hold one I tell you.”
The little girl looked at her and said, “I don’t think so, it would take the pleasure out of chasing them” and with that the little girl got up and ran after another butterfly.
But the witch began to wince in pain. The purity of the little girl’s choice of a pure un-tempted pleasure was too much for her to bear, and she had already been in the field listening to the purity of the child’s sounds of joy way too long. She got up and tried to return to her kingdom but she never made it out of the field because the little girl’s resistance to her temptation had did her in. After taking about thirteen steps to leave the field she fell, and died. Then in a matter of moments her body disappeared to the point there was no trace of her left.
there were still butterflies, and a little girl’s laughter as she chased them through the meadow.
To me there isn’t a better story that shows the difference between the power of real pleasure and the sickness that falls on those who follow temptation’s path. Real pleasures come from just enjoying life and God’s creation. Pleasures that temptation offers are manufactured because sin can’t produce Joy it can only produce a perversion of it.