Bad Thinking, The Lottery, and Why Christians Fail At Life
No one wakes up intending to ruin his or her life. People do not start affairs, embezzle money, or chug a bottle of vodka, hoping to destroy their marriages, their families, and their careers. Yet, Christians regularly invited disaster into their lives, seemingly torpedoing the very ship of joy they are sailing upon.
Why do they do this? We do Christians self-destruct some days?
They stop meditating on the promises and character of the God.
In 1 Samuel 27:1, David fills his head with unsanctified thoughts. The man who had vanquished Goliath, who had lead God’s armies, and who had repeatedly escaped the murderous plans of Saul, believes God can no longer protect him. The Bible reports, “Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines.” David sets in motion of series of lies, murders, and rebellion because he doubted God. He concluded that Saul could not be stopped by God. He took matters into his own hands, lost his wives, and was almost stoned to death (1 Sam 30:5-6). David made a wreck of his life because he entertained thoughts of doubt about the character and power of God.
And what caused David to despair? What events informed his thinking?
David derived his thoughts from the circumstances surrounding his family. 1 Samuel 27:3 reports that David went to Philistia to protect the households of his men and his wives. David who cut off the heads of giants was conquered by a honey-do-list.
Christians often fall into grave sins because they over value normal domesticated concerns. They fix college admissions programs to ensure their children excel at life. They engage in an affair because they feel like their spouse is too busy to watch a movie with them. They become enraged because someone left the lights on, pushing the electric bill past the limits of their checking account. Concerns about education, entertainment, bills, chores, and bedtimes possess the ability to steal our eyes away from Jesus. Once we begin to look at earthly needs, we tend to forget that God is good, loving, and all powerful. We forget that God can care for kids even if they never graduate from college. We forget that God is our comfort and that God can change our spouse’s heart. We forget that God promises to provide for all our needs, loving us deeply. In short, we forget the goodness of our God; we fear that our fears about failure, loneliness, and bankruptcy will come true and so we run to the Philistines looking for help.
But as David before us, we do not find salvation. We find more fear. Where once we feared one bad letter, a few bad nights, and a bad bill, now we fear tens if not hundreds of people who can expose our lies, our evil deeds, and our lack of character. We scheme even harder to protect ourselves, teaching more lies, embracing more sin, and experiencing more corruption.
In 1997, Billy Bob Harrel believed he had found the answer to his greatest problem in the form of a little piece of paper. After being laid off from two jobs, Billy Bob found himself stocking shelves at Home Depot, working for a disagreeable boss. His wife also started back to work to makes ends meet. Billy Bob loved his wife and kids and happily attended church. But the lack of income loomed over his mind. Instead finding consolation in the promises of God, he dreamed about winning the lottery, telling all who would listen about his plans to save his family. Then on a hot, Texas summer day, his insurance policy came true. His lottery numbers were called. Billy Bob who had struggled to pay his bills now owned the rights to 31 million dollars.
At first, the money empowered Billy Bob. He helped his church; he bought multiple cars; and, he purchased homes for all of his close family members.
But the large bank account did not become the salvation Billy Bob envisioned. People badgered him and his immediate family for money, even stopping his wife in Walmart. He lost many friends. His blood pressure rose; his health declined; and, he became a regular at his local pharmacy. The girl that checked him out developed into his girlfriend. His wife left him; he entered into tangled agreements with loan sharks and found himself battling depression. His Philistia proved no better than David’s hope.
Two years after winning the lottery, Billy Bob said “It was the worse thing that ever happened to me.” A few days later, he took his own life, leaving behind a note for his wife and family that said, “I didn’t want this. I just wanted you.”
He arrived at death’s door because his thoughts had drifted. Instead of looking to God for help with his unspectacular troubles he dreamed of being a millionaire. He lost hold of his thoughts and found the ultimate destruction, death.
Readers should not fault Billy Bob for his mistakes. He possessed no special propensity for sin or evil. He had served as a pastor and appeared to walk faithfully with God before his life crumbled. As David before him, he let his thoughts wander and placed his hope in a false salvation.
If we our honest, we must admit that we too are “prone to wonder, Lord if feel it/ Prone to leave the God I love.” Friends, we must guard our hearts. We must guard our thoughts from unbiblical thinking that doubts God and elevates our powers. We must remember the teaching of Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
What are you thinking about?