A couple of weeks ago Cathy was out cleaning one of the front flower beds when she inadvertently discovered an angry nest full of yellow jackets. Thankfully, only three of the little black and yellow striped monsters stung her. Yellow jackets build nests in the ground very similar to the nests wasps build under the eaves of barns and houses, with one exception; you can’t see the yellow jacket nest until its too late. Only after you’ve stumbled across the entrance tunnel and been stung repeatedly do you discover the hole that leads to their underground liar.
That’s where I enter this story. I hate yellow jackets because I hate being stung. I would almost rather do anything else than take the chance of being stung. But my job was to locate the entry hole and fill it with gasoline. Gasoline is deadly to yellow jackets and has been the sole choice for their quick and efficient extermination for generations in my family. A Coke bottle full of gas stuck in the entrance to their nest is like a Tomahawk missile hitting a target—there is no resistance and there are certainly no survivors.
The only problem was the hole was situated at the base of a thirty-year old yaupon and there was a 99.9% chance that my weapon of choice would kill this beloved ornamental plant as well. Therefore, I had to go to plan B. I would have to use a pesticide. If a little dab will do you, then a gallon would do it even better. So, I prepared my weapon and waited for darkness to fall (all yellow jackets return to the nest before night fall).
Later than evening I slipped out the front door to retrieve my little jug of death, picking it up, and turning to find that dread little nest with my flashlight. That’s when things fell apart. I must admit I was a bit nervous because I hate being stung by venomous insects. My anxiety, my Crocs, my bad foot, the monkey grass, and the flashlight all combined, and I tripped, falling headlong across the sidewalk and into the very same bushes where hundreds of those little black and yellow kamikazes lay sleeping unaware of their impending fate.
My head and right knee hit first. My glasses fell off and my forehead smashed them as my body weight drove my face into the ground. The concrete effectively ground the first two layers of my knee’s precious epidermis right off. My flashlight burst into pieces. To say I was a bit disheveled and confused is an understatement as I lay headfirst in the bushes in pitch blackness. All of a sudden my lightning fast reflexes kicked in and I crawled back across the same monkey grass that had tripped me and sat in the yard to get my bearings. Just inches away from where my face had impacted the ground was the opening to the nest. Everything was still quiet—the bees were none the wiser.
I decided to go for broke—I had nothing to lose. Wounded and bleeding I limped in like a soldier with a death wish and stuck the gallon jug with the white concoction into the hole and watched as it drained every last drop. I felt good—mission accomplished. I felt bad—not without casualties.
I limped back inside with dirt on my forehead, blood dripping down my shin and out of scratches on the back of my arms, with my hands cradling the shattered remains of that big yellow flashlight. I returned victorious, but not with the cockiness or confidence I’d left with. To add insult to injury, Cathy found the story side-splitting and could not (or would not) stop laughing.
The point of this story—things don’t always go the way we planned. Life is a battlefield and you must be prepared for anything even when you think you’ve planned for everything. At the very moment when victory stands only inches away defeat is still a possibility if we don’t finish the job. Plans must change because the battlefield on which we fight changes moment by moment. Satan only has one purpose: to kill, steal, and destroy. Unlike the yellow jackets, he never sleeps. Therefore, we must never become cocky with the confidence that comes from our position in Christ. I am reminded of a passage found in 1 Corinthians—“Take heed when you stand lest you fall.” In other words, watch out for the monkey grass lurking in the darkness, the devil will use it to trip you up.