At 7:15 Ernie and I stood in my driveway waiting for our carpool partner Ivy. It was day 39 of the Tucson bus strike. While we were waiting for Ivy, I did some morning stretches. I reached high. I twisted to the left, then to the right. I bent over and tried to touch my toes (I couldn’t) … that’s when Ernie said, “Are you ever tempted?’
“Well, help me work this out … Do you think temptation could ever be an opportunity?”
I completed a set of seven goblet squats to loosen my knee joints. “I’m not tracking you, tell me more.”
“Okay.” Ernie squinched up his eyebrows in concentration. “There are two types of temptation, right?”
“Two types of temptation?” I reached high to touch the sky.
“Yes, bad temptation and good temptation.”
“Got it, bad and good temptation.
“Hear me out, both bad and good temptation have something to do with opportunity.”
As I looked down the street I saw Ivy turn the corner. In five seconds, she would pull up to my driveway. “Define good and bad temptation opportunity.”
Ivy stopped her car so we could get in.
Ivy is a smoker who abstains from smoking in her vehicle.
Ernie and I grabbed our work stuff from the ground, opened the car door, and slid into our seats.
After we mumbled our good morning’s and how are you’s, Ernie said from his shotgun seat, “Bad temptations prevent opportunity. Good temptation allows opportunity.”
From the back seat, I filled Ivy in. “Ernie’s talking about how temptation’s an opportunity.”
Ivy grunted, turned down the NPR newscast, and we listened to Ernie.
“I’m thinking when temptation comes along we have a choice,” Ernie explained. “We can choose to surrender to temptation … this is bad, or we can choose to resist the temptation, this is good.”
Ivy caught up with the conversation. We both said at the same time, “Bad and good temptation.” I saw Ivy glance at me in the rear-view mirror. I said, “I always thought temptation was bad.”
“No, no, I’m thinking it isn’t. The temptation, in a good sense, is an opportunity.” Ernie gestured with his right hand and arm, punctuating his point.
Ivy said, “Well wait, how is temptation a good opportunity?”
Ernie said, “Okay let me say more.” Ivy peeked at me in the rear-view mirror, again. “When temptation comes, it seems to me that I have a choice to cooperate with a temptation and do whatever the temptation suggests … or I am able to choose to reject the temptation, thus not do what it suggests.”
“All right, I follow that,” Ivy said.
I agreed with Ivy and thought about the choice conflict. I noticed the traffic seemed heavier this morning.
“With the bad temptation, I’m thinking, I can give up control to a temptation or I can keep control when the temptation comes.”
From my seat I asked, “Are you proposing will-power … positive thinking … positive action?” Ivy listened.
Ernie said, “I think to make bad temptation good, a person has to start with making a decision to not give in to the temptation. Perhaps the process of moving toward good temptation requires positive action or positive choice.”
“You’re saying a person has to actively resist the bad temptation,” Ivy said.
I wondered how rejecting temptation looked in real-time. “So the conflict is making the right choice … doing the right thing?” I noted we were almost at work.
Ernie swung his arms wide. “Yes, we control our choice. First, a good choice creates a chance to watch God work. Consequently, second, as we allow God to use the temptation for good, and third, we live inside victory. Therefore temptation becomes an opportunity to get closer to God. Temptation can be good for us.”
Ivy parked in a numbered slot in a downtown garage, a block and a half from our workplace.
Our eyes touched in the mirror and we connected. We both said to Ernie, “That’s interesting … I’ll have to think more about that.”
We got out of the car. Ernie and I grabbed our stuff. Ivy lit a cigarette as we headed to the job.
Ernie said, “Please do. It’s a new thought for me, too.”
Big Daddy Weave: My Story