Sometimes, I get a kick out of the town names in Texas. Ones like Ding Dong, Nameless, Gun Barrel City, Paradise, Loco, Cut and Shoot, Jot ‘Em Down, Woman Hollering Creek, Whitehouse, and Telephone, Texas. There is one name I particularly like, and that’s Paris, Texas.
Located not too far from where we live, I asked the Mrs one time if she would like me to take her to Paris. She said ‘YES!’. So, I did. It was about a 40-minute drive. She wasn’t too terribly disappointed about not going to the real Paris (we may one day) because we did do some antique shopping.
For anyone who hears the town name of Paris, they immediately think of romance; the French cuisine, the Eifel Tower, floating down the Seine River on a gondola smelling flowers and tasting wine, and enjoying beautiful architecture. Yes, and even one of the Mrs’s favorite movies, ‘French Kiss’. The allure is hypnotizing to the point that one can begin to see French design even in those old Texas buildings.
The truth is, however, it’s not France. It’s a small Texas town outside of the mainstream cities with a few good stores and a great name. But, for fun, it’s a great trip to take (even if it’s just so you can say you’ve been to ‘Paris’).
On a more serious note, the analogy reminds me of temptation. When we’re tempted, we’re promised something we think will bring us pleasure. The allure, the smell, the fantasy, and that potential pleasure leads us to a place we thought we would never go, only to find an empty shell of what we thought it would be. In the same way, we could call those temptations Paris. Only, we know they won’t be what they promise.
We all face temptation. Even Jesus did. What will help us from falling into it is the awareness that what we’re being promised isn’t a romantic boat ride down the river with the smell of flowers and the taste of fresh wine. No, it’s a long drive down a rocky, country road that will lead us to an abandoned, empty place alone and far away from others.
Just knowing how to recognize that enticement is most of the battle in defeating temptation. If we can gain the wisdom to know that something is too good to be true, along with the dangers it’s hiding, we will keep ourselves, and many of those around us, from much pain.
So, the next time the enemy of your soul comes knocking offering you the world (or a trip to Paris, France), tell him to take a hike because you know what’s found at the end of that journey is nothing but pain and emptiness…