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Bible Devotional: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR (Darrin Stephens)

Not comic-related, but pop culture-y.  I have long been enchanted with Bewitched.  I can't tell you how many times as a child I tried twitching my nose--hoping beyond hope that magic would happen.  My blond cousin, Marcy, and I would make believe we were Samantha and Serena.  I excitedly anticipate cosplaying as Endora when I get a bit older.   The following devotional incorporates situations from the classic sitcom.  May God bless you through it.

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One of many memorable episodes of the classic sitcom Bewitched shows the Stephens on the road in a storm.  Outside, the sky is spouting rain at the car.  Inside, Darrin is spouting a scolding at Samantha.  Before the opening credits, Samantha used her powers to speedily get dress for a business dinner.  On the way, Darrin is lecturing her on how she should never, ever use witchcraft under any circumstance. 

As they continue their drive, lo and behold, the car gets a flat tire.  Darrin suddenly not-so-subtly mentions how dreadful the weather is and how this is an extraordinary circumstance; however, he doesn't directly ask Samantha for magical help, and Sam doesn't dare volunteer it.  They end up getting to the dinner late--with Darrin drenched, and they make a horrible impression on the prospective client. 

All the way home, who gets the blame?  Predictably, Samantha.  Samantha initially was just trying to help Darrin, but pounds it in her not to help him, and then, when Sam honors his request, he gets mad at her.

That situation (not so much comedic, in my opinion) is oh-so typical of the relationship between we humans and God.  Like rebellious children, we often ignore His advice and boldly etch our own paths--for better or worse.  When "better" prevails, we take credit; when "worse" happens, we blame God.

Many (not all, but many) problems in life are caused by human error: accidental mistakes, poor decisions that create harm over time, selfishness, and conscious sin.  When someone is injured by equipment at work because of inattentiveness, when "spreading the fun" leads to a spreading infection, when a tipsy driver kills someone else, even when pollution creates a hole in the ozone layer—problems such as these can all be attributed to human error.

Yet when such things go wrong in the world and in our lives, we often feel doubly hurt.  We are hurt by the situation AND we can be hurt that God would "let" such a thing to happen. 

...Does He really just apathetically let it happen?  Let's see:

-God tells us to treat our bodies like temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); we overeat and overwork and under-exercise.  Then we complain about the obesity "epidemic."

-God tells us to take care of our animals (Proverbs 12:10); we let our pets outside unattended or breed puppies for money.  Then we ask how God could let thousands of shelter animals suffer.

-God warns us to be good stewards of our money (Proverbs 21:5); we rack up cell phone, internet, cable, Netflix, and Starbucks bills.  Then we criticize churches for not doing more to help the poor.

-God tells us to seek wisdom (the whole book of Proverbs and beyond); we belittle scripture and clutter our minds with internet memes, beauty routines, celebrity gossip, neighborhood gossip, number crunching, and porn.  Then we wonder why God doesn't do something instead of letting the world get so bad.

God is doing something.  He is honoring our request.  Noted evangelist Billy Graham's daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, sums it up keenly:

For years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?

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When Darrin and Samantha finally get home from the business party, Sam finally has enough.  After Darrin ignores and even scorns her help time after time, Sam has no other choice than to give him what he asked for: she leaves him alone (and visits Endora on Cloud 8). 

Like Darrin, we insist on doing things our own way.  We fight for independence from "harmful religious brainwashing," and then depend on our own wisdom.  Like Sam, God gives us what we ask for: free will.  Then, WE:

-Tax sugar and make healthy foods unaffordable. 

-Work hard to get our kids the latest video gaming console, but don't have time to memorize their teachers' names (much less ask what they teach).

-Make political stands--knocking down any evil idiot who disagrees with us.

-Mock people who passively say they'll pray for others while we actively sit by our computers and mock people.

-Love those sexy (and now cute) beer commercials, put phones in cares, vote to legalize drugs, and argue that there can be no God because we have loved ones who have died from car crashes, liver disease, and lung cancer.

In short, we get what we ask for--not necessarily in the form of some mysterious, supernatural karma-like punishment, but in the form of the consequences of our own actions.

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On the Bewitched episode, Sam does not really leave Darrin totally alone.  From up on her cloud, she continues to love him and watch over him, ready to jump back in at any time--even before Darrin comes to his senses and apologizes. 

Fortunately for us, God does not abandon us or simply sit and watch from a cloud, either.  There might be times when we don't readily see His work or don't understand what He is doing (because we are blinded by that damage that WE have done), but He is always ready to extend o us His forgiveness and grace.  Sometimes He simply allows us time to realize that we need Him and to choose to come to Him:

"The Lord isn't slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn't want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act"  2 Peter 3:9 (God's Word Translation).

The whole world may sometimes feel out of control, but God gives each of us awareness, minds, resources, and many things that ARE within our power to control.  The consequences of how we choose to use or abuse or refuse such power are on us. 

Life isn't always a comedy, but do what you can to avoid tragedies caused by human error.  You may not be an actor, but do take God's direction seriously and try your best to follow His cues.   And God isn't a fictional warlock, but He is powerful and He is vital; so be careful what you ask for.

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