It was December in the Chicago suburbs, and the excitement about a sunny, sandy, vacation getaway to The Bahamas Island had been slowly building up in our house. Our little boys were understandably excited and couldn’t wait. My husband and I had planned a family vacation for us and our 3 young sons to Paradise Island in The Bahamas. Eventually, it was “ready, set, go” time. My husband and I had our plates full and overflowing with many work tasks to complete before our vacation. So we struck a deal. Rather than packing our bags the night before the day of our departure, my husband promised to pack on the day of our departure as soon as he completed a few errands early in the day since our flight was in the evening. Well…yep, that’s what he said. He returned home later than expected. We scrambled to pack, flipping, and tossing all kinds of items into our traveling bag for our family of five.
We had grossly underestimated how long it would take to pack up. To further complicate matters, we had to drive for roughly one hour to the Chicago O’Hare airport, and we ran into rush hour traffic. Unfortunately, but not shockingly, we missed our flight. In the past, I’ve had a little bit of a reputation of cutting it close with my flights on some occasions 😉. But I somehow manage to make those flights by a thin razor margin and those were solo trips. Pulling the same feat proved impossible when traveling with a family of five with three young kids in tow. Yes, we missed our flight and the ensuing drama was not the least bit funny. I still have flashbacks of my two oldest sons weeping uncontrollably at the ticket counter with my 4-year old son seating on the floor right in front of the airline agent screaming “Mom, dad, it’s all your fault!”. Oh the drama, it was a pitiful sight. My husband and I quickly moved to console them and promised to undo the damage. We were re-booked on another flight for the next day. Praise God, we made it to The Bahamas and had a wonderful and blessed time on Paradise Island.
Upon returning home, my husband led a short prayer of thanksgiving for our safe return home, and he thanked God that we made it to The Bahamas despite everything the devil did to stop us. “The devil?” My ears pricked when he uttered that line about the devil in his prayer. Really?!? I thought to myself. Given that I had a front row seat and was also a main actor in the events that led to missing our original flight, I raised my eyebrows at any suggestion that the devil had anything to do with it. When my husband wrapped up his prayer, I gently asked him if he really thought the devil had anything to do with it. In my humble opinion, the blame lied squarely on our shoulders for not packing up and leaving for the airport on time. My husband looked at me and said “It’s all your fault!”. How funny, I bet many wives can empathize with me 🤷♀️🤗
After my conversation with my husband, I began thinking about how we as Christ followers are sometimes quick to blame any and all unfavorable experiences in our lives on the big bad D, THE DEVIL. Don’t get me wrong. I am neither naïve nor ignorant to think the devil sits on the sidelines or lies leisurely with a straw hat, a cold tropical drink, and an intriguing suspense novel under a cabana in a beach resort in Cancun, not caring about a single thing going on in the world. The bible clearly warns us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), he is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelations 12:10), and the father of lies (John 8:44). Peter cautioned us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). My intentions are not to alleviate the devil of all responsibilities in the challenges and sorrows that plague humanity, especially in the life of Christians. Rather, I would like to address cases of self-inflicted troubles for which we so easily want to ascribe the blame to Satan. I jokingly say that on judgement day, many will be confronted with the reality that some unfortunate life events that we confidently claimed to be Satanic attacks were actually entirely self-made and should be self-owned. Indeed, the scriptures state that in this world we will have tribulations (John 16:33). Life is no cakewalk, however, we must be careful to know when to take responsibility and repent for our wrongful actions versus challenges in our lives that God permits in an attempt to build up our faith on our road map to spiritual maturity.
Friends, here are a few takeaways that dawned on me after my family’s self-induced-missed-flight-to-The-Bahamas fiasco:
- As the popular saying goes “to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail”. The scriptures state that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:17). If you’ve got a test coming up, you’ve gotta study. If you have an iota of desire to learn how to play the saxophone, you’ve got to enroll for lessons or at the minimum closely observe a skilled player doing their thing. If you’ve got a flight to catch, pack up in advance and get to the airport on time (Why are you looking at me? Lesson learned! 😂). God’s grace and divine providence will intercede for us when all our humanly options and resources have been exhausted, but we still come up short as seen when Jesus supernaturally fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes in Matthew 14:19-21. God is a miracle worker, but beware that our faith is undermined and even sabotaged when we fail to take the necessary steps that will allow our faith to materialize into tangible results.
- All of our problems in life are not always the devil’s fault. There is a natural realm in life influenced by human decision making as seen in the disobedient actions of Jonah, King Saul, and Samson in the bible. In parallel, there is a spiritual realm where the forces of good (Kingdom of Light) and forces of darkness (Satanic kingdom) dictate outcomes that are experienced on earth (Daniel 10:12-13 and 2 Kings 6:16-17). Our indecisiveness or wrong decisions in the natural realm can be costly and consequences can be long-lasting.
- Do not abuse the grace of God. Hmnnn…sweet, sweet grace, how we need you every hour (check out this good ol’ hymn). Friends, the grace of God is rich, lavish, undeserved, and nondiscriminatory (Ephesians 2:7, Titus 2:11), but it cannot and must not be abused, otherwise we will suffer the consequences. We are cautioned by Paul in Romans 6:1 not to use the gift of God’s grace as a cover for perpetually sinning.
- Don’t be slothful (i.e., procrastinating, lazy, indecisive, wasteful). In Matthew 25:24-30, the unprofitable servant had a few noteworthy character traits. 1) Making baseless accusations against his employer. 2) Falsifying facts to cover up his deficiencies and lack of productivity. 3) He was pretty skilled at playing the blame game. His master wisely noted in Matthew 25:27 that he did not even bother to put in the barest minimum effort by investing his talent with bankers to return an interest to his master. Guess who else had a badge of honor for blame gaming? Adam blamed Eve, after he ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:12). Similarly, the unprofitable servant seamlessly made one excuse after the other to justify his lack of productivity. An impartial judge of his predicament would describe him as lazy, unprofitable, and wasteful as his master wisely did (Matthew 25:26). The bible warns us against laziness and unfruitfulness (Proverbs 6:6-8).
- We as human beings are free will agents on earth. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God makes it clear that he will make a way of escape for us when faced with temptations, but we have free will to take the exit ASAP or continue through the wide gate and broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Deuteronomy 30:19 states that the choice menu we face are life versus death, and blessing versus cursing. So what’s it gonna be Bubba? The choice is yours.
- BONUS: C’mon pack your bags and go on a vacation or start planning one even if it’s a staycation at the local lake, beach, mountains, or hotel. Enter into your rest (Hebrews 4:3). Hey, researchers agree too.
Yup, that devil is big, bad and ugly, and he is always up to no good. However, there is a natural realm in our life journey that is spurred and precipitated by our choices as free will agents. In such situations, I would have to say the same thing I said to my husband to you, “Nope, the devil did not make you do it”. Put your best foot forward, make an effort, and let the Holy Spirit divinely blow wind in your sails to take you to your supernatural next level (Zechariah 4:6).
Thanks for indulging me with your time today by reading my faith blog. Until we meet here again, WORK IT OUT*.
*Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling.Philippians 2:12 [NKJV]