Growing up the son of an electrical engineer meant an early introduction to circuit breakers. Most of my relatives would call my father for help with an electrical issue. He could determine a short in a circuit, install a new plug or switch and tackle even more demanding electrical tasks. Recently he was telling us how my grandfather would check a fuse. He would take out the fuse, lick his finger and place it where the fuse should go. Everything about that description frightened me. My grandfather did not die from electric shock.
Sitting with our students at camp recently brought these experiences rushing back. The band set the tone. Not long after the first song the lead singer’s guitar went silent as did his mic. Immediately I suspected a circuit breaker had been tripped – too many amps being drawn on a given circuit. After a few moments this was confirmed when the house lights were turned off and sound was restored. These things happen. How many times have you overloaded a circuit breaker?
The confusing thing to me came in the explanation of the events. Quickly the lead singer, and the speaker who followed, noted Satan was working to create a distraction. Now I am willing to acknowledge the tripped breaker may be used by Satan to distract others but to suggest Satan caused the incident forces interesting propositions.
Are we to assume God should suspend the principles that govern the regulated flow of electricity when the demand exceeds the supply when the singing or preaching of the Gospel is in view? Or, is there a battle between good and evil resident in the spiritual dimension and somehow evil won the momentary battle at the breaker box?
You see, my concern rests in the signal sent to students. While I would not suggest it sin to overload a circuit breaker, I wonder if it is not somewhat dishonest to suggest Satan take the blame for human error. Visions of Flip Wilson come to mind shouting, “The devil made me do it.” Too many amps called for by too many amplifiers and instruments and microphones, not to mention the lights, combined to trip the breaker. Satan did not do it. People did.
The way forward after the interruption may have been to acknowledge the possible distraction and note how the Spirit of God would win the day. One could argue the conversations we had with students after the evening service demonstrated just such a reality. Sending the message that what we do may be pawned off on another is the kind of signal too many receive and/or give when it comes to personal responsbility.
To intensify my discomfort singer and speaker pointed to the reality that God is in control – he is sovereign. So, for an instance God lost control? Again, there is little doubt God may work in ways to reconcile an otherwise terribly planned an executed goal of humans. But, to fail to acknowledge human responsibility gives the impression that whatever we do God will clean it up for us.
We enjoyed a great week at camp. We found some great teaching moments. We deepened some already good relationships with students. We found the camp to our liking.
We also were reminded to take great care in our descriptions of events as our language may not accurately describe reality.