This summer I grew impatiens in the raised flower bed in front of the parsonage. Since I don’t necessarily have a green thumb I have been thrilled that these flowers grew and flourished throughout the summer. I was also thankful that the deer left them alone. That is until the other morning when I went out and discovered that all the flowers had been nipped off leaving only a leafy stalk behind.
Not ready to give in to the season of no flowers, I researched what flowers deer do not like. While there are some they do not necessarily prefer, no flowers are completely fool-proof when it comes to the dining pleasure of the deer population. Except perhaps fake flowers! So, a trip to the dollar store and I am ready to “plant” some flowers to fool the deer! At least I hope so.
As I’ve contemplated fooling the deer in my yard, I got to thinking about how easily we, as human beings, are fooled. We are fooled by advertisements promising products that will make our lives easier, healthier, more pleasurable. We are fooled by promises of weight loss by taking this pill or following that plan. We are even fooled by Bible verses misquoted or taken out of context. One such verse is Philippians 4:1
It sounds good, doesn’t it? It revs us up to believe that we can do anything we set our mind to as long as we believe in Jesus. But the Apostle Paul was talking about being content no matter what his circumstances were because he draws his strength from Christ. Another one is not necessarily a verse, but a wrong application of a verse:
This one more often than not refers to 1 Corinthians 10:13 which talks about temptation to sin, not difficulties in life. Again, it sounds good, but it fools us into thinking we can handle anything that comes our way. So we steel ourselves against the onslaught of difficult circumstances, sometimes tragic circumstances, and we often find that we simply cannot handle them on our own. We cannot do “all things” in those circumstances.
We are not meant to handle life on our own. That is the whole point of the Bible. There is a God who loves us and wants to provide for us, strengthen us, comfort us, and help us live in the best way possible, even when circumstances are not ideal, or life is difficult. God’s story is written in the Bible so that we can know Him, trust Him, and find refuge in Him. When we read and study the Bible in context we can know God and the actual promises He has made.
Don’t be fooled by fake promises, they will only let you down. Relying on, trusting in God, finding your strength in Him, will always get you through no matter what life throws at you.
Grace and peace,
NOTE: Pastor Pam Sutherland’s charges include Fort Gibson United Methodist Church, Castlewood, VA and St. Paul United Methodist Church, St. Paul, VA.