Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A way that seems right to a man

I'm in St. Croix this week--the island where we worked and lived for 8 years. Toward the end of that time (around 1996) legislation was passed to permit up to 4 casinos to be built on St. Croix. The casino or casinos were to be the economic salvation of the island--it would bring more tourism, which would support the restaurants, bars, shops, etc. on the island. At least that was the argument the majority believed in approving this legislation.

It took several years for the casino to be built, but rather than bringing an economic boom to the island the reverse has been true. We were here in 2004 and noticed the number of restaurants, shops, gas stations, etc. that had closed and wondered why. Several people assured us that it was just the "shuffle"--restaurants move from here to there, change their name, a shop closes on one street but another opens a block away. St. Croix is an expensive place to live and an even more expensive place to own a business, so more new businesses than in the States don't make it. And there has always been a lot of shuffling. But one man revealed the real problem--the casino. He had just finished his house and as is customary here, he paid the workers every Friday. When they came back on Mon. morning they needed to borrow money for gas and lunch--after receiving anywhere from $500-800 on Friday. When he asked them about that money, you guessed it, it had all been spent at the casino, which sent it all to Mobile, AL, to headquarters.

Instead of those paychecks being spent on gasoline, food (groceries, restaurants, convenience stores) and K-mart it left the island completely. The number of vacant buildings is double or triple what it was before the casino came to "save" the islands economy. Do we always know what will be best? Often we don't--we think we do, but we turn out to be wrong.

Is it any different when we try to "outguess" or "be smarter" than God? If He is the Creator (and He is) and sustainer of the universe, can we ever be smarter than He is? If not, then why don't we follow His instructions? His commandments are not burdensome--they're for our benefit. Remember, there is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the ways of death (Prov. 14:22)


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