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The Worst-Case Scenario

By William L. Self
Ecclesiastes 5:1-3; Ecclesiastes 5:8-17

I was in a book store recently and saw a book that caught my eye. I tried to walk out without buying it but I turned around, went back, and picked it up. It is called The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook. It is a little book of about 100 pages, easy to read, and has a lot of cartoons in it. I thought at first it was a joke, but it is a very serious book. The author is in the business of helping people in dangerous situations, and he has assembled a handbook for us to use when we are in a bad situation. I looked at some of his examples of worst-case scenarios. I decided I needed to keep the book with me all the time. Then if I'm ever attacked by a mugger, I can tell him to stop until I've had a chance to refer to the book to find out what I'm supposed to do.

As I read these, my comic mind took over. The author wrote a serious book but it didn't come across as serious to me. For example, what do you do if you are chased by a swarm of African killer bees? The first thing he suggests is to run for cover. (I would have thought that without having the book!) What would you do if you were chased by a charging bull? The first thing you should do is don't antagonize the bull. What if you are chased by a stampede of cattle? The first thing you should do is get out of the way. How do you fend off a shark? You should hit back. What do you do if you find yourself in the line of gunfire? You should get as far away as possible.

In the Peace Corps Handbook given to all Peace Corps volunteers before they go overseas, there is the suggestion of what to do if you are attacked by a python. First of all, you take your knife firmly in your hand and lie down. The python will start to swallow you from the ankles up. You just lie still and quiet, let him come on up until he gets to your waist. He is then immobile, so take your knife and slit his throat. The next time you are chased by a python, remember that.

The Bible has some worst-case scenarios. Have you ever thought about Moses standing before Pharaoh? Moses has been out in the dessert with a bunch of sheep. He smells like them because he didn't get a chance to clean up and change his clothes. God said, "Go down and talk to Pharaoh." He walks into Pharaoh's gilded throne room and Pharaoh has all his flunkies around him. Moses starts pleading his case, "Let my people go." That's a very bad case. All he had was a rod and an invisible God.

Another worst-case scenario — have you ever thought of what Jesus must have felt like when he was preaching to 5,000 people, and just as He was giving the invitation, someone came forward and said, "Master, they are hungry, and you have to feed them." All He had was a boy with five loaves and two fishes. I think the ultimate in worst-case scenarios is in Jesus' story about the man who had more money than he thought he would ever have. He was a farmer, and he hit the lottery with his crop — the wind was right, the rain was right, the soil was right, and he had an abundance of crops. No one else did, so he was hot on the market. He was in the worst-case scenario. He did what a lot of us would have done. He built bigger barns. He opened a new bank account. He found a new stock market account. He had bigger everything to take care of his abundance. Jesus said, "Thou fool, this night your soul will be required of me."

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