All we wanted was some vitamin water.
My family took a brief trip to Omaha with some family friends late last winter for a fun weekend. After a day of shopping, eating, and NCAA tournament watching on TV, we headed back to the hotel through the snow. And our friends suggested that we stop at a grocery store for some munchies to share while we played games at the hotel, including their favorite brand of zero-calorie vitamin water. Walking down the specialty soft drink aisle at one of the many Omaha Hy-Vee stores, we were confident we would find it. After all, they had everything else. But after several minutes of looking with no success, our hopes began to fade.
And then, we saw it.
Three layers high and probably a foot across, a dark chocolate devil’s food cake sat on the front of the vitamin water shelf. It was enormous, covered in shiny dark chocolate icing with even thicker chocolate edging. This was no plain-Jane cake. It had to be one of the most expensive cakes the Hy-Vee bakery made. It certainly was one of the biggest. And, you guessed it, someone had placed this big, beautiful cake directly in front of the the very brand of vitamin water our friends were looking for, making the case of water almost impossible to see.
For me, a cake like that is just too much. All that sugar would blow me away. But thinking about the strategic placement of that cake, and aside from its dubious name, it occurred to me that Satan has been using this type of tactic since the Garden of Eden. Throughout the Bible, Satan often placed something beautiful and enticing between God’s people and the thing God desired for them, blocking the better thing from their view. For Adam and Eve, it was the apple, sitting there between the first human family and a loving God. For King David, it was Bathsheba. For Jonah, it was a vacation at sea to anywhere instead of proclaiming God’s judgment on Ninevah, which Jonah knew would lead to repentance by the hated Ninevites. And Satan himself offered to Jesus all the world’s kingdoms if Jesus would just walk away from being the Savior. Praise God that Jesus chose what God wanted for him, and for us.
Now, I’m not saying we can’t ever eat chocolate cake. In fact, the desirable item Satan puts in front of you might even be a good thing, and in God’s time it may even be something that God wants for you. But in the wrong time and for the wrong reasons, it’s unhealthy, and it’s sin. You and I should prayerfully consider what’s in front of us, determine whether God or Satan put it there, and make sure it’s not blocking our view of something better that God wants for us.
Chocolate cake is a good thing, but in the long run, vitamin water is better. And the living water from Christ is the best.