I pulled my silver Honda Civic to a stop in a long line of traffic leading off the Interstate and checked my watch. Still plenty of time to get to the Bible study I would be leading.
Behind me, a silver VW bug pulled up and stopped. And behind him I could see a blur of motion that didn't look right.
I realized it was a car barreling into our stopped line of traffic from behind. It dawned on me that the VW was going to be hit, that it was likely to hit me, I looked ahead to see whether I could avoid passing the collision forward to another car.
Too late to do much but pray.
The VW driver tried to veer away from me and clipped my bumper before bouncing onto the grassy shoulder. The runaway Mercury somehow missed me and ended up ahead on the side of the road.
I thanked God that nobody was hurt. And I wondered to myself, what does this event mean spiritually? Perhaps God doesn't want me to lead the Bible study tonight and will raise someone else up. Perhaps He needs me to minister to someone here at the accident scene. Or maybe by having my car here, it somehow averted a greater catastrophe.
I conferred with the other drivers, exchanging insurance information and prayers. The VW driver had been on his way to church as well, bringing bags of clothing for GoodWill.
His wife came. Tow trucks came. My car was the only one still driveable, so I continued toward my appointment.
I arrived late enough to miss the potluck supper, but in plenty of time for the Bible study.
Tonight's topic was evil.
We discussed Satan, whether he was a real entity, or maybe a psychological presence. We discussed whether there is really a constant battle between good and evil and how to determine whether we are responsible for our own evil actions or whether "the Devil made us do it."
Someone said she found that Satan attacked people when they were trying to do God's will. Someone else gave an example of a friend who suffered several bouts of illness shortly after accepting Christ as his Savior.
I thought back on my traffic accident and mused,"Why didn't I think of that?"
Here I was on the way to lead a Bible study -- on the nature of evil of all things! -- and I'd been waylaid by a freak accident. And I'd never once considered it Satan's action.
But as I started to share my experience with the rest of the group, I thought: "What is the point of attributing this to Satan?"
After all, I'd gotten here, hadn't I? Maybe the point of my mishap was to provide this very topic of discussion.
So I described to the group how I'd chosen to see the accident in light of God's great power rather than in light of Satan's possible manipulations.
And it dawned on me that, yes, there is a huge battle between good and evil. But it is being waged on this tiny battlefield called "choice."
Every time we are faced with a choice that has moral implications, we can choose God's way or our own way. We can choose to see Satan's hand in everything or believe what the Bible tells us: that Jesus has already defeated Satan and we, living through Him, need not fear evil.
The rest of our discussion centered on Ephesians 6:13-17, where Paul discussed the "armor of God" that we may put on to protect us from evil.
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Someone wisely pointed out that none of the armor covers our backs.
Someone else noted that means we must keep pressing forward in our battle, studying the Bible, doing good works, proclaiming the Gospel.
And I thought back one more time to my accident and, again, saw God's teaching hand.
There I had been, stalled in traffic, when calamity stalked me from behind and pounced.
I pray that none of us, feeling secure in our salvation, ever find ourselves sitting in that long line of traffic going nowhere -- only to see in the rearview mirror "Your enemy the devil (who)prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Al Boyce is a former writer and reporter for The Associated Press. He lives in Raleigh, NC, where he now writes for God.
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