TONY ELDER: Be grateful to God for the path He's chosen for you

Talk about a rude awakening. I guess you heard about the poor guy in Florida who was asleep in bed when a sinkhole opened up, swallowing him, his bed and practically the whole room.

The nightmarish facts make it sound like a scene from some Hollywood disaster movie. I understand that the man was screaming for help as he plunged 20 or 30 feet and as the ground closed back in over him. His family certainly needs our prayers.

It's hard to imagine such a horrible fate. If I lived in one of those areas of Florida where such sinkholes are prevalent, after hearing this story I might be tempted to sleep with a rope tied around my leg with the other end anchored to the ceiling fan.

This incident reminds me of a time when God used similar means to bring judgment on a group of Israelites.

Let me make it clear, I have no reason to believe this tragic event in Florida had anything to do with God's wrath being poured out on this particular man who died in such an awful manner. Some such events are simply natural disasters that adversely affect the godly and the ungodly alike.

The biblical incident to which I referred took place during the time of Moses. A group of men from the tribe of Levi rose up in rebellion against Moses and Aaron. They had become envious of the two top leaders of the Israelites and dissatisfied with the position and sacred responsibilities God had entrusted to them -- the care of the tabernacle.

They wanted to be priests too, even though God had not chosen them for that high office.

This account ends up with God's judgment falling on that group in a unique way. The earth opened and swallowed them up, along with their families and possessions. The Bible says, "They and all those with them went alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly" (Numbers 16:33).

This incident should serve as a reminder to all of us not to take lightly the position God has put us in and the responsibilities for which He has equipped us.

It's tempting to enviously look at others who are gifted differently from us and wish we could be like them. We may even go so far as to turn away from what God has called us to be in order to seek to be like someone else.

Don't get me wrong. We need to be open to new avenues God may open up for us as we go through life. Some of those will stretch us and get us out of our comfort zones.

But let's not seek greener pastures simply because we're discontented with who we are, how God has made us, and with the gifts He's given us. Let's not try to become something we're not and that God doesn't intend for us to be.

For example, I enjoy music and admire those who inspire others with their singing. But anyone who has ever heard me sing will agree that it would be ridiculous for me to try to become a soloist.

Moses reminded those men that what God had called them to do in serving in the tabernacle was not a small thing. Wherever God puts us and whatever role He wants us to play in life, it's not a small thing either.

Be grateful for how God has created you and for the position He has put you in to serve Him. Rest assured that it is no small thing.

But if you insist on thinking otherwise, you might want to consider sleeping with a rope tied to your leg.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.