Do you have a favorite snack or treat? I do. I LOVE popcorn. I recently went on a twelve-day streak (albeit unintentionally) of eating popcorn every. single. day. In December I even strung my Christmas tree with popcorn and cranberries! For the fun occasion I had my little neighbor friends over to help me pop and string them. (And eat ‘em too, of course!)
I got the air popper set up and going and briefly stepped out of the kitchen, leaving the kids to watch the production begin, intending to be back long before the batch was done. Well, as you may guess, disaster struck. It was less than a minute before I heard high-pitched squeals and clattering and clanging coming from the kitchen. I darted in to find two frantic kids scurrying about catching the flying popcorn that filled the air!
After unsuccessfully trying to put the hot lid back in place, I finally had the brains to simply pull the plug. Two sets of eyes looked up at me as if they expected a severe scolding. And I thought about giving it. But instead, I calmly explained how the popper works when used correctly, and then mechanically began picking up the dozens of popped kernels that were all over my kitchen.
The little girl, not knowing how an air popper works, watched the canister fill up and had panicked. She took the lid off thinking that would help, but instead set off an explosion of popcorn like a match to a firecracker! After the mess was cleaned up and a new batch on the way, I found the humor in the situation and had a good laugh. It was just too stinkin’ funny! How two little munchkins could bomb something as simple as making popcorn was beyond me!
Despite the minor catastrophe, my tree was strung perfectly with popcorn, and the last of the mess has long been swept up. But as I was making popcorn again last night (ok, I seriously have a problem!) and chuckling at the memory of that fiasco, I realized how often I make similar mistakes—but with consequences that far outweigh a messy kitchen.
When Life Heats Up
We often find ourselves in heated situations with the pressure mounting, and we panic. We do what my little friend did when she thought disaster was brewing—we make things worse. We take things into our own hands rather than following the course of action laid out for us in God’s Word.
Rather than taking my burdens to the Lord, I take over.
Rather than trusting God with my future, I let fear control me.
Rather than seeking counsel from Scripture, I lean on my own understanding.
This is how most of us handle adversity. When life throws us a curveball, we throw our bat and shake our fist and demand a better pitch. That is, we accuse God of being unfair or giving us more than we can handle, and refuse to take that step of obedience because it’s too painful or costly or hard.
When we do this, what we’re saying to God is that He is not strong enough, powerful enough, good enough, or (you fill in the blank) enough for us to trust Him. We think we’d be better off left to steer our own boat.
A Pattern Throughout History
This is the lie the serpent used to deceive Eve in Genesis 3. He planted doubt in her mind, pitting her against her own Creator. “Did God actually say…?” (v 1). Then he seduced her with a craving for wisdom and power. “The woman saw . . . that the tree was to be desired to make one wise” (v 6). Finally, he secured her downfall with the desire to be like (or greater than) God. “When you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (v 5).
All throughout history, men and women have fallen prey to this same temptation:
- Sarai (later called Sarah) didn’t believe God could possibly give her a son in her old age, so she took matters into her own hands and gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband Abram instead of waiting on God’s promise.
- Jonah the Prophet didn’t think the people of Nineveh deserved God’s mercy, so he made his own plans and took off in the opposite direction.
- Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took credit for the vast kingdom over which he ruled and gloried in his own wealth and might.
- King Herod’s vanity and pride got the better of him when he decided he agreed with the people and believed himself to be a god.
Because these individuals refused to acknowledge or trust in God, they dealt with some dire consequences. Some of these were graphic (King Neb became insane like a wild animal, and Jonah lived three days inside a giant fish); some were fatal (Herod was struck dead and eaten by worms); and others are still in effect to this day (the descendants of Hagar’s son are still at war with the descendants of Sarai’s son).
A Pattern Worth Breaking
These accounts should make us pause and consider. Thankfully, God doesn’t usually use fish or worms to get our attention. (Although He may use popcorn!) But there is still much we can learn from these examples. Maybe God hasn’t called you to preach to your enemies or give birth to a child at age 90, but He does ask you to acknowledge Him in all your ways, and to trust in Him with all your heart (Prov. 3:5-6) no matter what you’re going through.
So what are you going to do the next time you’re between a rock and a hard place? How will you respond when encountered with someone difficult to love?
Rather than taking over, take your burdens to the Lord.
Rather than letting fear control you, place your trust in God.
Rather than leaning on your own understand, seek counsel from God’s Word.
. . .
And enjoy some fresh popcorn.